New cultural and natural Unesco World heritage sites were added to the “endangered” list, while others were removed, as the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh convened for its second day Tuesday.
One of the major decisions was to list the Solomon Islands’ East Rennell site, home to the world’s largest raised ring-shaped coral reef, as “World Heritage in Danger” due to severe logging that has affected the dense forest and surrounding ecosystem, Unesco spokesperson Roni Amelan said.
“There is concern that logging outside the site, but very close to it, is affecting the site,” Mr. Amelan said on the sidelines of Tuesday’s meeting.
While East Rennell was put on the “Danger” list, the more than 2,000-year-old mud city of Bam in Iran was removed. In 2003, Bam, built around a desert citadel, was destroyed by an earthquake that killed more than 25,000 citizens, which resulted in its being added to the list.
“We welcome the improvement of conservation in Bam, which was removed from the ‘in danger’ list…. The committee took note of the fact that the safety of the site was ensured and no longer needed to be on the list,” Mr. Amelan said.
A decision on whether the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the world’s largest coral reef system, should be classified as “in danger” due to the impact of coastal development on the water quality and coral, was deferred until next year.
Tuesday’s meeting also illustrated the thin line between protecting cultural and natural heritage sites and, at the same time, further developing them.
While discussing the development of a road as well as the consequences of illegal logging, illegal mining and poaching in New Guinea’s Lorentz National Park, Indian representative M. Vinay Sheel Oberoi noted that the vast area had to be developed for local residents.
“You have to provide communication, access [through roads] and a better standard of living between the two sides of the island,” Mr. Oberoi said.
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