World heritage in danger

August 2003 -

Unesco has placed three World Heritage Sites on the endangered sites list - the Walled City of Bakoo in Azerbaijan, the Comoé National Park in Ivory Coast and the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal.

According to the World Heritage Commission, which met for the 27th time last month in Paris, the site in Azerbaijan has suffered considerable damage because of the earthquake in 2000. Uncontrolled expansion of the city and dubious attempts at restoration have further endangered the city. The Commission wants to see the Azerbaijan authorities develop a policy for the protection of monuments.

Population increase in Nepal has meant that the royal heart of the Kathmandu Valley has been overtaken by municipal construction. In Ivory Coast poachers have caused considerable damage to the nature preserve. In addition the earth has been depleted due to intensive grazing. The current unrest in the country prevents the government from adequately protecting the site. According to Unesco 35 important sites are in jeopardy worldwide.

During the last meeting other sites were placed on the endangered list: the Srebarne Nature Preserve in Bulgaria, Yellowstone Park in the US and the Kotor region in Servia and Montenegro. According to Unesco, the national governments in these countries have taken effective measures to restrict harmful influences.

Twenty-four new locations have been added to the World Heritage list. For the first time the list includes sites in Gambia, Mongolia, Kazachstan and the Sudan. The list now includes 754 monuments and sites: 149 nature preserves, 582 cultural monuments and 23 sites with 'remarkable universal value'. With the addition of Gambia and the Sudan, Africa still has only four 'culturally significant' areas.