via Myanmar Times, 15 August 2018: Garden construction in Bagan temples may potentially affect the bid to nominate them into the World Heritage register. This adds to the number of issues previously highlighted in the nomination of Bagan with modern constructions (such as here and here).
Bagan authorities are planning to build 17 gardens inside the compounds of well-known pagodas, but a local UNESCO official expressed concern the move could affect Bagan’s bid to be declared a world heritage site.
Source: Gardens might affect Bagan UNESCO bid
via Free Malaysia Today, 22 July 2018: Jerejak Island in Penang, Malaysia is a former leper colony that was planned for nomination in Unesco World Heritage. This plan is now in question as the state government has okayed plans for a large luxury resort to be developed on the island.
Deputy tourism minister to write to Penang chief minister about plans for luxury development on former leper colony island.
Source: Resort plans put Jerejak heritage status in doubt
via The Star, 18 July 2018: The Portuguese community is one of the oldest communities living in the Melaka World Heritage Site.
MELAKA: Coffins placed by the Portuguese community during the protest at the Melaka Gateway site office on Tuesday (July 17) are considered “sui (bad luck)” for locals, but this indicates a desperate call for survival, says state exco member Norhizam Hassan Baktee.
Source: Coffin protest by Melaka Portuguese community was a desperate survival call
via Jakarta Post, 09 July 2018:
UNESCO’s advisory board has deemed Jakarta’s Kota Tua to be unqualified to join its World Heritage list, arguing that the area is, among other reasons, not “unique”.
Source: Lacking ‘authenticity’, Kota Tua fails to make UNESCO heritage list
via The Conversation, 11 July 2018: a piece by Josephine Caust
With colleague Dr Mariana Vecco, I recently published a research article about these issues. Some of our recommendations for vulnerable sites include:
- introducing control of visitor numbers as a matter of urgency
- tighter planning controls on adjacent development
- querying the use of sites for any tourist activities
- auditing sites for damage already incurred.
All of this should occur if UNESCO status is to be continued. However, there is also a bigger conversation we need to have – should tourists visit vulnerable sites and practices?
Hoi An is still a beautiful town but the presence of “wall to wall” tourists mars it. Sadly, as long as UNESCO status is used more as a marketing device than a route to preservation, the situation will continue to deteriorate.
Source: Is UNESCO World Heritage recognition a blessing or burden? Evidence from developing Asian countries
via Bangkok Post, 10 July 2018:
Big old trees usually have a trove of stories behind them and the many 130-year-old Jujube trees in Ayutthaya Historical Park are no different.
Source: Ayutthaya shows love to big trees
via Viet Nam News, 11 May 2018:
The central province, in co-operation with the Institute for Conservation of Monuments under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, will begin an urgent project to protect B3 tower in the UNESCO-recognised Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary from collapse before rainy season.
Source: Chăm tower to be reinforced
via VN Express, 06 May 2018:
A Vietnamese expert says Indian archeologists entrusted with restoring a Cham temple complex have been careless.
Source: Vietnamese, Indian experts at odds over restoration of UNESCO relic – VnExpress International
via Bangkok Post, 30 April 2018:
Ruins and ancient sites are always under threat from time and disaster. The great flood of 2011, for instance, damaged 128 archeological sites on and around the city island of Ayutthaya. After the incident, the government provided a budget of 600 million baht for the clean-up and restoration work, and there was also financial and technical aid from Unesco, as well as certain foreign countries.
Source: Preserving history
Today (April 18) is World Heritage Day, and technology company CyArk in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture have just launched the website Open Heritage. The site contains 3D scans of ancient monuments from 27 sites from around the world, including Bagan in Myanmar and Ayutthaya in Thailand!
CyArk’s data has already been used for various research purposes. For example, the data collected at Ayutthaya, Thailand—one of the sites featured in Open Heritage—was used by conservators to study the sinking of a temple after flooding in 2011. CyArk’s work at Bagan, the ancient city in Myanmar, Bagan, which was hit with a devastating 6.8-magnitude earthquake in 2016 that caused damage to several of its Buddhist temples, was incorporated into an Unesco pilot project to study how to best conserve monuments. That data is also plugged into Open Heritage in a virtual tour of Bagan, which shows how the area looked before and after the earthquake hit.