By letter dated 31 January 2007, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. With regard to the points raised by the Committee in its Decision 30 COM 7B.65, the report provides the following information.
The commercial street development along the road to the northern edge of zone 2 of the World Heritage property (i.e. the buffer zone) has been stopped and will not be implemented in the form originally proposed.
An impact assessment for the (non operational) asphalt mixing plant constructed in the vicinity of the Temple had been carried out already in 2004. This has highlighted the significant risk of adverse impact on the stone of the monument which would have resulted from the chemical agents used in the mixing plant. For this reason, the latter has been stopped by judicial Decree of the Mageland Regency, which also requested the owner of the plant to move the structure to an alternative, appropriate location.
As for the requested revision of the legal and institutional framework for the protection and management of the property, the State Party has engaged in an inter-institutional consultation process. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been tasked to conduct an evaluation of the existing legal framework. While emphasising the difficulty of such an exercise, the State Party has expressed its readiness to revise the current Presidential Decree (N.1/1992) with a view to strengthening its effectiveness. The report of the State Party, however, does not provide any indication of the expected timeframe for the elaboration and possible adoption of the revised Presidential Decree.
The report of the State Party contains as well an architectural plan for the improvement of the entry area, as requested by the Committee in 2006. This appears to concentrate mainly on the execution of newly designed main gate and ticket gates, as well as on new signage posts. The plan seems to leave unchanged the layout of the parking and vendor areas, and does not include the redesign of the retail markets in pavilion style architecture, as recommended in the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission report of 2006.
The interpretation at the property, moreover, has been improved by re-arranging the collections of the so-called Ship Museum and rationalising the tourism flow. New explanatory brochures are being developed in various languages.
In cooperation with an international expert dispatched by the World Heritage Centre, and funded by the Italian Government, a comprehensive review of the current policies for the conservation of the stone of the Borobudur temple has been carried out. This review has helped clarifying the processes of the deterioration of the stone, and has led to the design of a new monitoring protocol aimed at validating the hypotheses formulated and controlling the state of conservation of the monument. The review also resulted in a series of recommendations concerning the conservation policies currently in place at Borobudur, some of which, according to the international expert, must be changed as a matter of urgency.
The practices that appear to have a negative impact on the state of conservation of the property include steam cleaning of the stone; injections of epoxy resin in cracks and alveoli; the application of layers of epoxy resin araldite on the stone; and the coating of the stone with silicon-based water repellent. All these activities seem to cause the faster deterioration of the stone and should be stopped, pending the results of further analyses and monitoring currently underway.
The State Party should be commended for the strong commitment shown in addressing the issues raised by the Committee, and the results achieved in preventing the adverse impact of development projects; improving interpretation and presentation of the property and developing strengthened conservation policies for the stone of the Temple.
On the other hand, one of the key issues for the conservation of the property, i.e. the need for a revision of the legal and institutional framework, remains a priority. As stated in the report presented by the World Heritage Centre in 2006 (see Document WHC-06/30.COM/7B) “The division of the responsibility for zones 1, 2 and 3 among three separate institutions with different mandates and objectives is at the root of most of the problems at Borobudur”. The improvements proposed for the entry area, in this context, are welcome but not sufficient unless accompanied by a clear policy aimed at disseminating to the communities living in the area of Borobudur the benefits derived from the tourism business, while reducing pressure on the area adjacent to the Temple from vendors and cars and maintaining the visual integrity of the surrounding rural landscape. The recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission report of 2006, in this respect, are still valid.