Decision : 38 COM 8B.4
Nominations to be processed on an emergency basis: Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC-14/38.COM/8B.Add and WHC-14/38.COM/INF.8B1.Add,
- Considers that Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir, Palestine is unquestionably of Outstanding Universal Value;
- Also considers that the site faces an emergency for which an immediate decision by the World Heritage Committee could ensure its safeguarding;
- Inscribes Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir, Palestine, on the World Heritage List on an emergency basis, on the basis of criteria (iv) and (v);
- Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Battir is a major Palestinian cultural landscape, the adaptation of a deep valley system for agricultural purposes as a result of a good supply of water. The complex and unique irrigation system of this water supply has led to the creation of dry walls terraces which have been exploited since at least 4000 years onwards, as confirmed by strong archaeological evidence. The agricultural terraces, exploiting this irrigation system, were the basis for a strong presence of agriculture through the cultivation of olives and vegetables. The area still today has the same use.
The unique water distribution system used by the families of Battir is a testament to an ancient egalitarian distribution system that delivers water to the terraced agricultural land based on a simple mathematical calculation and a clear time-managed rotation scheme. This outstanding cultural landscape has been awarded the UNESCO-Melina Mercouri prize in 2010.
Criterion (iv): The dry-stone architecture represents outstanding example of a landscape that illustrates the development of human settlements near water sources and the adaptation of the land for agriculture.
The village of Battir, which developed on the outskirts of this cultural landscape, and was inhabited by farmers who worked and still work the land, attests to the sustainability of this system and to its continuation for the past 4,000 years.
The traditional system of irrigated terraces is an outstanding example of technological expertise, which constitutes an integral part of the cultural landscape.
Criterion (v): The strategic location of Battir and the availability of springs were two major factors that attracted people to settle in the area and adapt its steep landscape into arable land.
The property is an outstanding example of traditional land-use, which is representative of thousands of years of culture and human interaction with the environment.
The agricultural practices that were used to create this living landscape embody one of the oldest farming methods known to humankind and are an important source of livelihood for local communities.
The Battir cultural landscape encompasses ancient terraces, archaeological sites, rock-cut tombs, agricultural towers, and most importantly an intact water system, represented by a collection pool, channels, etc. The integrity of this traditional water system is guaranteed by the families of Battir, who depend on it.
The irrigation system and the cultivation have hardly changed in time. There is a high level of authenticity in cultural landscape. This will be destroyed severely by the construction of the separation barrier, as it will destroy a large part of landscape and the terrace system, visually as well as physically, due to the service road on both sides of the barrier.
Protection and management requirements
The cultural landscape is well protected by the Palestinian laws, among which the National charter for the Conservation of cultural heritage in Palestine, which was drafted with the contribution of UNESCO and ICCROM. A management plan is currently being finalized by the village council and actions are being taken to preserve the terraces, the pathways and the irrigation system. An Eco museum was created to ensure a sustainable system of management and protection. These efforts were carried out in full partnership with the main stakeholders and the local community.
- Also inscribes Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir, Palestine, on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
- Encourages the international community to facilitate the conservation of the property and requests that the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS provide support to the State Party as may be appropriate;
- Also requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and a set of corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
- Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.