Decision : 32 COM 8B.26
Examination of nomination of Natural, mixed and cultural proprerties to the World Heritage List - Kuk Early Agricultural Site (Papua New Guinea)
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1,
2. Inscribes the Kuk Early Agricultural Site, Papua New Guinea, on the World Heritage List as a relict cultural landscape on the basis of criteria (iii) and (iv);
3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
The Kuk Early Agricultural Site, a well-preserved buried archaeological testimony, demonstrates an independent technological leap which transformed plant exploitation to agriculture around 7,000-6,400 years ago, based on vegetative propagation of bananas, taro and yam. It is an excellent example of transformation of agricultural practices over time from mounds on wetland margins around 7,000-6,400 years ago to drainage of the wetlands through digging of ditches with wooden tools from 4,000 BP to the present. The archaeological evidence reveals remarkably persistent but episodic traditional land-use and practices where the genesis of that land-use can be established and changes in practice over time demonstrated from possibly as early as 10,000 BP to the present day.
Criterion (iii): The extent of the evidence of early agriculture on the Kuk site can be seen as an exceptional testimony to a type of exploitation of the land which reflects the culture of early man in the region.
Criterion (iv): Kuk is one of the few places in the world where archaeological evidence suggests independent agricultural development and changes in agricultural practice over a 7,000 and possibly a 10,000 year time span.
Archaeological investigations have been intensive rather than extensive and excavations have affected only a minor proportion of the core area of the site. Modern farming activities at Kuk remain relatively low-key and do not intrude upon the archaeological features of the site. The integrity of the site is thus maintained. The excavations and scientific work that have been done at the site are of the highest international professional standard and thus the excavated remains retain their authenticity. Contemporary land-use has been restricted to modern versions of traditional activities and is supportive to the authenticity of the core evidence on the site.
The legal protection in place is adequate, but customary protection needs confirmation as soon as possible through the designation of the property as a Conservation Area and through the associated formal land management agreement with the local community for aspects of site management. The Management Plan should be completed as soon as possible and formally resourced and implemented, and a formal memoranda of understanding established among relevant national, provincial and local government authorities and other stakeholders concerning management responsibilities on the ground and reporting lines.
4. Recommends that the State Party submits by 1 February 2009:
- a) the completed Management Plan and confirmation of its approval by the Kawelka landowners, and of its implementation;
- b) progress with the establishment of Organic Law;
- c) progress with designation of the property as a Conservation Area, and of the associated formal land management agreement with the local community for aspects of site management;
- d) progress with the establishment of a formal memorandum of understanding between relevant national, provincial and local government authorities and other stakeholders concerning management responsibilities on the ground and reporting lines;
5. Requests the State Party to provide a commitment to:
- a) resource heritage management training for local people and appropriate local, provincial and national government officers;
- b) putting in place planning policies to protect the wider setting and to extending the buffer zone as land tenure issues are resolved.