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Honoring the Heritage Heroes


iucnOn September 4, 2016, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress on honored Heritage Heroes in Hawaii, USA in a ceremony. The Director of World Heritage Centre,  Dr. Mechtild Rössler congratulated all three World Heritage Hero nominees from Virunga National Park (DRC), Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India). Mr. Bibhuti Lakhar was the people’s choice Heritage Hero, for his dedication to the conservation of India’s Manas Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Heritage Heroes Awards also recognize Bantu Lukambo and Josué Kambasu Mukura jointly for their work in protecting Virunga National Park in DRC, as well as Yulia Naberezhnaya and Andrey Rudomakha for their joint actions in the Western Caucasus in Russia.

The result of the online voting was announced at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress. Dr. Rössler welcomed the immense commitment and dedication of young people around the globe for World Heritage conservation.
Supported by the MAVA Foundation and Star Alliance’s Biosphere Connection, the Heritage Heroes project was implemented by IUCN’s World Heritage Programme in collaboration with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.


World Heritage Sites in Canada threatened by oil, gas and mining


parkOne of the recent reports outlines the impact of oil and gas extraction and mining in various areas of Canada which accounts for 31% of threats against natural and cultural sites since 1985. It is very alarming that Mining and oil and gas extraction account for nearly a third of threats to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada over the last 30 years, according to the international organization.  In fact,  it has been reported that a total of 75 threats against nine designated natural and cultural sites have been documented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s State of Conservation database since 1985.  The next most common threat types are management and institutional factors (13), service infrastructure (10), transportation infrastructure (8) and buildings and development (7). It has been reported that most of the threats occurred between 2000 and 2013.  The threats against Canadian heritage sites were identified in a series of 41 UNESCO reports since 1985.
Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta was the subject of the greatest number those reports, with nine in total, followed by the Historic District of Old Québec and Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, which each had eight.
Number of threat reports:
Wood Buffalo National Park: 9
Historic District of Old Québec: 8
Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks: 8
Gros Morne National Park: 5
Nahanni National Park: 5
Waterton Glacier International Peace Park: 2
Dinosaur Provincial Park: 2
Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek: 1
Miguasha National Park: 1

In 2015, UNESCO reported on the Wood Buffalo and expressed concern for the environmental impacts on the Peace-Athabasca Delta from hydro-electric dams, oil sands development, and proposed open-pit mining in the vicinity of the property, which could negatively impact its outstanding universal value.

Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage


pyramidandsphinx2In 1992, a serious earthquake damaged historic buildings around Egypt. In response, the United States for International Development (USAID) provided funding for the first-of-its-kind historic program for preservation and conservation to address the needs of damaged antiquities. The American Research Center in Egypt was chosen to administer the program and began work on the first projects in 1995 under the leadership of the late Robert “Chip” Vincent, Project Director for the ARCE Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP). Over the next ten years, ARCE in collaboration with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, oversaw more than 50 projects that helped to preserve Egypt’s rich and world renowned legacy of cultural heritage. Both Egyptian and foreign experts worked side by side on projects from pre-history to the Ottoman period.

In 2010, ARCE announced the publication of a new book, “Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage: Conservation Work by the American Research Center in Egypt 1995-2005,” edited by Randi Danforth.

In the last five years, forty five fellows and Research Associates have been hosted and supported by ARCE. These American pre and post-doctoral scholars and professionals are affiliated with universities, museum and research institutions worldwide. These scholars return to their home institutions and meet again in April 2017, at the ARCE’s annual meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.

Registration of Afghanistan’s National Heritage


afghanestanIn August 2016 the registration process of preserved artifacts of National museum of Afghanistan in the central bank vaults of Presidential palace started.

According to the news, a Team of professional members of National Museum with the cooperation of Oriental Institute of Chicago University has been appointed to register and repack some of the artifacts of National museum, which are preserved in the central bank vaults of presidential palace.

According to the Acting Director of National museum of Afghanistan Muhammad Fahim Rahimi, the main purpose of this registration is to document artifacts of national museum of Afghanistan based on recognized professional standards and better preservation of these artifacts as they will be conserved and repacked with accepted packing materials and processes to ensure long term preservation.

World Tourism Day


world-tourism-dayWorld Tourism Day (WTD) is commemorated each year on 27 September.

Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and to highlight the contribution the tourism industry can make in reaching these goals.

Every year, UNWTO invites all interested parties to take part on 27 September each year in the special celebrations taking place in their respective country or holiday destination.

World Tourism Day theme and official celebrations

World Tourism Day is celebrated with appropriate events on themes selected by the UNWTO General Assembly, on the recommendation of the UNWTO Executive Council.

The UNWTO Secretary-General issues a message each year to mark the occasion and chairs the official celebrations.

44406Establishment of World Tourism Day

It was at its third session (Torremolinos, Spain, September 1979), that the UNWTO General Assembly decided to institute World Tourism Day, commencing in the year 1980. This date was chosen to coincide with an important milestone in world tourism: the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes on 27 September 1970.

The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate in that it comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is of topical interest to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Saving Venice from the Tourists


veniceIf you have ever visited Venice, Italy, you have come back home with stunning images and memories of that beautiful city. Most people simply fall in love with that beautiful city. However, it has been the impact of tourism and drastic increase in the number of people visiting the city which has worried the heritage officials and the UNESCO.

In a very interesting recent New York Times article by Salvatore Settis who is the chairman of the Louvre Museum’s scientific advisory council and the author of the forthcoming book “If Venice Dies”, Mr. Settis talks about the threat of tourism “decimating the historic city and turning the Queen of the Adriatic into a Disneyfied shopping mall”.

According to Mr. Settis, the millions of tourists pouring into Venice’s streets and canals are profoundly altering the population and the economy. Tourism is tearing apart Venice’s social fabric, cohesion and civic culture, and is growing ever more predatory according to the article.

It is not surprising that Venice and many other tourists’ sites are reporting higher number of visitors. This in part is due to the fact that the international travelers are avoiding destinations like Turkey, North Africa and some parts of Asia, because of fears of terrorism and unrest.

It has been widely reported that the population of the city has dramatically changed as many native citizens are banished from the island city and those who remain have no choice but to serve in hotels, restaurants and shops selling glass souvenirs and carnival masks. In fact, according to the article, there is an increasing imbalance between the number of the city’s inhabitants (which plummeted from 174,808 in 1951 to 56,311 in 2014, the most recent year for which numbers are available) and the tourists. In addition, proposed large-scale development, including new deepwater navigation channels and a subway running under the lagoon, could further increase erosion and create more strain on the fragile ecological-urban system that surrounds Venice.

According to Mr. Settis, the city is now facing shortage of hotel rooms and overnight accommodations. The damage to the life and structure of the city could be seen in the closure of state institutions, judicial offices, banks, the German Consulate, medical practices which have happened in the last 15 years.

All of this is what has made UNESCO worried and why Venice has now been placed on its World Heritage in Danger list requiring Italian government to establish measures in order to halt the degradation of the city and its ecosystem.

In its July report, Unesco’s committee on heritage sites expressed “extreme concern” about “the combination of ongoing transformations and proposed projects threatening irreversible changes to the overall relationship between the City and its Lagoon,” which would, in its thinking, erode the integrity of Venice, as reported by the New York Times.

And of course, for all of us who are proclaimed Venice lovers, we continue to advocate measures for preservation and conservation of this beautiful city so that tourists and visitors could enjoy it for centuries to come.

To read Mr. Settis’ full article, visit:


Ancient Temples Damaged in Myanmar Earthquake


earthquakeA 6.8-magnitude earthquake last week in Myanmar Killed 3 people and damaged over 170 Temples. One of the major sites of destruction was the historic city of Bagan as reported by a number of news outlets. The epicenter was however almost 400 miles north of Yangon according to the United States Geological Survey. Yangon is the country’s largest city.

Bagan is at the heart of Central Myanmar’s growing tourism industry, which has been growing rapidly since 2011. Bangan’s rich history goes back to between the 11th and 13th centuries, when the city was the capital and over 2,000 structures demonstrate the rich history of the city.

Earthquakes have also been part of the history of Bagan. Bagan has survived a number of earthquake just this past century, like one in 1975, which was just as powerful as last week’s earthquake. In that that earthquake a number of structures including the Sulamani Temple were damaged. The Sulamani Temple was rebuilt in the 1990s, along with many other structures.

According to the New York Times, last month, Myanmar’s tourism officials had announced plans to welcome more than five million tourists this year.

While loss of life and helping survivors are of utmost importance after earthquakes, the officials are beginning to assess the damage to the country’s heritage sites in Bagan and surrounding cities.