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Decision : 32 COM 8B.20
Examination of nomination of Natural, mixed and cultural proprerties to the World Heritage List - Fujian Tulou (CHINA)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1,

2. Inscribes Fujian Tulou, China, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (iii), (iv) and (v);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

The Fujian Tulou are the most representative and best preserved examples of the tulou of the mountainous regions of south-eastern China. The large, technically sophisticated and dramatic earthen defensive buildings, built between the 13th and 20th centuries, in their highly sensitive setting in fertile mountain valleys, are an extraordinary reflection of a communal response to settlement which has persisted over time. The tulou, and their extensive associated documentary archives, reflect the emergence, innovation, and development of an outstanding art of earthen building over seven centuries. The elaborate compartmentalised interiors, some with highly decorated surfaces, met both their communities' physical and spiritual needs and reflect in an extraordinary way the development of a sophisticated society in a remote and potentially hostile environment. The relationship of the massive buildings to their landscape embodies both Feng Shui principles and ideas of landscape beauty and harmony.

Criterion (iii): The tulou bear an exceptional testimony to a long-standing cultural tradition of defensive buildings for communal living that reflect sophisticated building traditions and ideas of harmony and collaboration, well documented over time.

Criterion (iv): The tulou are exceptional in terms of size, building traditions and function, and reflect society's response to various stages in economic and social history within the wider region.

Criterion (v): The tulou as a whole and the nominated Fujian tulou in particular, in terms of their form are a unique reflection of communal living and defensive needs, and in terms of their harmonious relationship with their environment, an outstanding example of human settlement.

The authenticity of the tulou is related to sustaining the tulou themselves and their building traditions as well as the structures and processes associated with their farmed and forested landscape setting. The integrity of the tulou is related to their intactness as buildings but also to the intactness of the surrounding farmed and forested landscape - into which they were so carefully sited in accordance with Feng Shui principles.

The legal protection of the nominated areas and their buffer zones are adequate. The overall management system for the property is adequate, involving both government administrative bodies and local communities, although plans for the sustainability of the landscape that respect local farming and forestry traditions need to be better developed.

4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:

  • a) as one of the main potential risks to the property is increased visitor numbers, there is a need to ensure that tourism protection plans are adhered to;
  • b) care needs to be exercised to avoid maintenance and conservation activities that may have an adverse impact on the authenticity and integrity of tulou by means of policy and "best practice" guidelines
  • c) improved plan for the sustainability of the farming landscape which respect local farming traditions should be developed;
  • d) given the importance of the landscape setting of the tulou, consideration should be given to the protection of the wider setting of the property as well as the property and buffer zones;
  • e) there should be a one-year re-evaluation of the monitoring system in detail;
  • f) a coordinated overall interpretation and presentation plan at the provincial level is needed to ensure consistency in site interpretation and presentation. This should ensure consistency in quality and style from county to county, so as to create a recognizable visual identity in the eyes of visitors and local inhabitants.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: China
Properties: Fujian Tulou
Year: 2008
Decision Code: 32 COM 8B.20