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Committee Decisions

31 COM 8B.18

Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.2,

2. Approves the extension of the Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn, Switzerland, on the basis of criteria (vii), (viii) and (ix):

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

The Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn region is the most glaciated part of the European Alps, containing Europe's largest glacier and a range of classic glacial features, and provides an outstanding record of the geological processes that formed the High Alps. A diverse flora and fauna is represented in a range of habitats, and plant colonization in the wake of retreating glaciers provides an outstanding example of plant succession.

Criterion (vii): The impressive landscape within the property has played an important role in European art, literature, mountaineering and alpine tourism.  The area is globally recognised as one of the most spectacular mountain regions to visit and its aesthetics have attracted an international following.  The impressive north wall of the High Alps, centred on the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks, is a superlative scenic feature, complemented on the southern side of the Alpine divide by spectacular peaks and a valley system which supports the two longest glaciers in western Eurasia.

Criterion (viii): The property provides an outstanding example of the formation of the High Alps resulting from uplift and compression which began 20-40 million years ago.  Within an altitude range from 809 m to 4,274 m, the region displays 400 million-year-old crystalline rocks thrust over younger carbonate rocks due to the northward drift of the African tectonic plate.  Added to the dramatic record of the processes of mountain building is a great abundance and diversity of geomorphological features such as U-shaped glacial valleys, cirques, horn peaks, valley glaciers and moraines.  This most glaciated part of the Alps contains the Aletsch glacier, the largest and longest in Europe, which is of significant scientific interest in the context of glacial history and ongoing processes, particularly related to climate change.

Criterion (ix): Within its altitudinal range and its dry southern/wet northern exposures, the property provides a wide range of alpine and sub-alpine habitats.  On the two main substrates of crystalline and carbonate rocks, a variety of ecosystems have evolved without significant human intervention.  Superb examples of plant succession exist, including the distinctive upper and lower tree-line of the Aletsch forest.  The global phenomenon of climatic change is particularly well-illustrated in the region, as reflected in the varying rates of retreat of the different glaciers, providing new substrates for plant colonization.

The property is well managed, with a management strategy and plan in place which have been developed through an exemplary participatory process.  Almost all of the property is under some form of legal protection.  Key management issues include the potential impact from climate change, the management of tourism, and the need to ensure effective coordination of management responsibility between federal, cantonal and communal levels of government.

4.Commends the State Party for preparing a comprehensive management plan and strategy to ensure the effective conservation and management of the property;

5.Recommends the State Party to consider changing the name of the property to better reflect its extended area and notes that the State Party has already initiated a process to identify a suitable name.

Documents
PDF Original Decision Document
Context of Decision
PDF WHC-07/31.COM/8B
Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Switzerland
Session: 31COM