Improved conservation allowed the World Heritage Committee to remove Cologne Cathedral (Germany), Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Senegal), the Group of Monuments at Hampi (India) and Ichkeul National Park (Tunisia), from the List of World Heritage in Danger
on Monday. The debate on the List of World Heritage in Danger will continue tomorrow. The decision by the authorities of Cologne to scale down plans for the construction of new high rise buildings and improved management of the site's surroundings, have led to the removal of the masterpiece of German Gothic architecture from the Danger List, on which it was inscribed in 2004. Started in 1248 and completed in 1880, the Cathedral's position as a landmark dominating the cityscape had been threatened by plans to build high buildings.
Biocontrol measures have enabled the managers of Djoudj to eradicate the threat of invasive plant species to the wetland site, which is situated in the Senegal River delta. A sanctuary for some 1.5 million birds, including the white pelican, the purple heron, the African spoonbill, the great egret and the cormorant, Djoudj was put on the Danger List in 2000 because of the threat posed by the rapid spread of the Salvina molesta plant, also known as "water lettuce." The Committee also heard a report on improvements in the overall management of the site inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981.
Reductions in motor traffic and the decision to change the location of a planned shopping centre enabled the Committee to determine that the Group of Monuments at Hampi, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986 and on the Danger List in 1999, was no longer under threat. The 25km2 site includes rich temples and palaces built in the 14th to 16th centuries, when it was the capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar.
Ichkeul National Park was inscribed on the Danger List 1996 because of the increased salinity of its water. This threatened the disappearance of its characteristics as the last fresh water lake in a chain that once extended across North Africa, and as a sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds such as such as ducks, geese, storks and pink flamingos. The Tunisian authorities have since ceased using the lake's water for agriculture, allowing for a reduction of salinity and for the return of numerous bird species to the Park, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1980.
The List of World Heritage in Danger includes both natural and cultural sites whose outstanding universal value, the reason for their inscription on the World Heritage List, is endangered. Inscription on the Danger List is intended to encourage support for the sites so as to avert the threat to their integrity.
The World Heritage Committee, in charge of implementing UNESCO's 1972 World Heritage Convention is currently holding its 30th session in Vilnius under the chair of Ina Marčiulionytė, the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Lithuania to UNESCO. The session will end on the evening of 16 July.