Cairns - On the third day of its 24th session, the World Heritage Committee added three sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The three sites, the Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen), the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Senegal) and the Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Pakistan), were the subject of extensive discussion during the previous day's deliberations on the state of conservation of World Heritage sites.
Historic Town of Zabid (Yemen). A former capital of Yemen, from the 13th to the 15th century, Zabid was a city of great importance in the Arab and Muslim world for many centuries because of its Islamic university. Today the city is in decline and in a very poor state of conservation. A mission of experts has observed serious deterioration in the city's heritage: around 40% of the city's houses have been replaced by concrete buildings, and other houses and the ancient souk are in a deteriorating state. The Yemeni government had asked for Zabid to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger to facilitate its preservation.
Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Senegal). Situated in the Senegal River delta, the Djoudj Sanctuary is a wetland of 16,000 hectares, which form a vital but fragile sanctuary for 1.5 million birds, such as the white pelican, the purple heron, the African spoonbill, the great egret and the cormorant. The sanctuary is now threatened by the invasion of a water plant, Salvinia molesta, which has crossed over the Senegal River and invaded the Diawling National Park of Mauritania. An attempt was made in June this year to use biological control methods by releasing plant-eating beetles provided by South Africa, but this has proved to be inadequate. Here too, the national authorities are in agreement to the inscription on the List so as to facilitate their task and help them appeal for financial support from donors.
Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Pakistan). Testimonies of the brilliant Mogul civilisation, the fort contains palaces and marble mosques decorated with mosaics and gilt. The gardens, built on three terraces with lodges, waterfalls and large ornamental ponds, are an example of a rarely equalled sophistication. Tanks built 375 years ago to supply water to the Garden's fountains were destroyed in June 1999 to widen the road which borders the gardens on their south side. The perimeter walls of the Garden are also deteriorating. In view of the damage observed and the threat facing the site, the Committee decided to inscribe it on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in response to a request from the Pakistani government that the international community take action to safeguard the site.
In its letter requesting the action, the Government of Pakistan expressed its appreciation for continued assistance from the World Heritage Committee and the World Heritage Centre for the conservation and development of the Shalamar Gardens. By nominating the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the State Party expressed its hope to increase public awareness both nationally and internationally on the importance of preserving this Moghul exemplary site of World Heritage of value, which continues to be a living cultural heritage site.