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Committee Decisions

34 COM 8B.6

Natural Properties- Monte San Giorgio (Italy)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8B and WHC-10/34.COM/INF 8B2,

2. Approves the extension of Monte San Giorgio, Switzerland, to include the portion of Monte San Giorgio, Italy, on the basis of natural criterion (viii);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The pyramid-shaped, wooded mountain of Monte San Giorgio beside Lake Lugano is regarded as the best fossil record of marine life from the Triassic Period (245 - 230 million years ago). The sequence records life in a tropical lagoon environment, sheltered and partially separated from the open sea by an offshore reef. Diverse marine life flourished within this lagoon, including reptiles, fish, bivalves, ammonites, echinoderms and crustaceans. Because the lagoon was near to land, the fossil remains also include some land-based fossils including reptiles, insects and plants. The result is a fossil resource of great richness.

Criterion (viii): Monte San Giorgio is the single best known record of marine life in the Triassic period, and records important remains of life on land as well. The property has produced diverse and numerous fossils, many of which show exceptional completeness and detailed preservation. The long history of study of the property and the disciplined management of the resource have created a well documented and catalogued body of specimens of exceptional quality, and are the basis for a rich associated geological literature. As a result, Monte San Giorgio provides the principal point of reference, relevant to future discoveries of marine Triassic remains throughout the world.

Integrity

The property encompasses the complete Middle Triassic outcrop of Monte San Giorgio including all of the main fossil bearing areas. The Italian portion of the property included is an extension in 2010 of the originally inscribed area in Switzerland, which was added to the World Heritage List in 2003. The resulting extended property fully meets the integrity requirements for a fossil site. The main attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property are the accessible fossiliferous rock exposures, with intact strata which occur in many parts of the property. 

Protection and Management Requirements

The property benefits from legal protection in both Italy and Switzerland that provides an effective basis for the protection of its geological resources. Site protection also focuses on landscape protection and has resulted in appropriate legislative controls and existing management procedures that are effectively enforced at the local level and which are underwritten by National, Regional and Provincial government support.

Strong transboundary collaboration between the States Parties of Italy and Switzerland is in place, including mechanisms that are agreed by all of the local municipalities in both countries, through common signed accords and declarations. A joint management plan is also in place for the property, and the States Parties and local authorities are committed to providing adequate ongoing staffing and management resources to the property. Maintenance of the effectiveness of the transboundary cooperation and the related management plan is a key ongoing requirement for the protection of the property. Staff with a specific responsibility for site management are in place in both countries, and collaborate effectively to ensure a fully coordinated management of the property, including in relation to its presentation.

The main management requirement in relation to the values of Monte San Giorgio is the in situ protection of fossil bearing areas. Although these areas are generally difficult to access, it is important to ensure their accessibility for managed legal scientific excavation. Continued scientific excavation is a key requirement to maintaining the values of this property as a world reference area for paleontological research. 

Maintenance of the relationships between the property and leading research institutes is also essential to both its scientific value and its presentation. Because the in situ fossil resources both require excavation and preparation to be of scientific value, and are not publicly accessible or visible, the completeness, presentation and safety of the fossil collections held in a limited number of universities and museums is key to the protection of the values of the property. These collections are maintained through strict adherence to appropriate legislative controls on excavation within the property. The housing of resultant fossil finds, and the standards of curation, specimen preparation and research, and museum display are of the highest quality in the main research collections related to the property. This presentation of the fossil finds from the property in major international museums also needs to be complemented by the appropriate provision of visitor centres and services within or near to the property, and a programme to establish and maintain these services is in place. An active ongoing programme of communication and interpretation for visitors to the property is required to ensure the fullest appreciation of the Outstanding Universal Value of Monte San Giorgio.

4. Welcomes the commitment by the State Party of Italy to complete the establishment of a national foundation for the Italian portion of the property, to ensure the appointment of the agreed position of World Heritage Site manager, and to provide sufficient funding for the management of the Italian portion of the property, and requests the State Party to implement and sustain these commitments as soon as possible;

5. Also welcomes the collaboration between the States Parties of Italy and Switzerland to ensure effective transboundary management of the property, including the establishment of a 'Strategic Transnational Board', and also requests the States Parties to ensure that the Board functions effectively and is provided with adequate resources for its work;

6. Further requests the States Parties to ensure a single, coherent identity and consistent management approach for the transboundary property created by the extension, and to enhance programmes of presentation, interpretation and monitoring, maintenance of important rock exposures, and enhanced coordination of science and research;

7. Takes note of the anticipated minor changes to the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone in Switzerland, in order to ensure the best possible overall configuration of the property, and encourages the State Party of Switzerland to bring forward a boundary modification proposal;

8. Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2013 a joint report on the State of Conservation of the property, including the establishment and operation of the Transnational Board, the provision of ongoing site manager positions, and the implementation of effective and adequately resourced management and presentation of the property, for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th Session in 2013.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Italy Switzerland
Properties: Monte San Giorgio
Session: 34COM