Sangiran is one of the largest fossil sites in the world and contains potentially important data for understanding the general process of human evolution.
At the request of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia, the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee approved in March 2005 an amount of USD 15,000 as international assistance to support a National Consultation Workshop for the safeguarding of Sangiran World Heritage property. The Workshop was held from 20 to 25 September 2006 in conjunction with a UNESCO expert mission to the property. The aim of the meeting was to conduct consultations with local stakeholders on the conservation and management of the property, review the progress achieved in the implementation of the recommendations of a previous workshop (held in April 2002) and develop technical guidelines on the site’s infrastructural development in relation to scientific research and tourism development. The proceedings of the workshop were transmitted by the State Party to the World Heritage Centre in February 2007.
Since 2002, the Indonesian Government has been making significant efforts in order to preserve and conserve this property, improve education and empowerment of local communities, promote scientific research at the site as well as develop tourism facilities in and around the site. The participants in the 2006 workshop, indeed, noted some positive changes at the site, including:
a) an increase of police officers at the site;
b) the development, in 2005, of a Master Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sangiran Site;
c) the reinforcement of the law against illegal trafficking of fossils;
d) the training of museum staff; and
e) the improvement of the Sangiran Site Museum.
Despite these positive developments, however, a number of problems persist. it appeared that the Coordinating Board for the Protection and Management of Sangiran World Heritage Site, which had been established in 2002, has not been effective in implementing the recommendations of the 2002 workshop, and has remained mostly non operational. A site management authority with trained staff, therefore, is not yet in place, as personnel responsible for the management of the site currently comes from the Archaeological Office of Central Java Province.
The participants in the 2006 workshop noted as well the threats affecting the property (which extends over 56 square kilometers) from inappropriate land-use within the boundary of the listed site, in the absence of clear regulations based on the heritage significance of the property. These included an extension to the Site Museum building, where laboratories and storage facilities will be located, and the construction of a three storey observation tower; the proposed establishment of a recreational Pleistocene Park within the property; the construction of a bridge across the Cemara River, connecting Sragen and Karanganyar Regents; the digging of artesian wells and the proposal to create a waste dump within the boundaries of the World Heritage site (the latter withdrawn in 2004). These developments may have an adverse impact on the values of the property, in light of the presence of precious archaeological layers very close to the surface, and of the need to ensure the integrity of the landscape. Moreover, recent important archaeological discoveries have been made outside the current boundary of the core area of the World Heritage property.
The participants noted as well the need to improve the presentation and interpretation at the site museum, by emphasizing the values that justified the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List, and to raise the awareness of the local population, which lives within the property, of its heritage significance and the need to protect it.
With respect to the above issues, the participants in the workshop recommended that:
f) The Coordination Board for the Protection and Management of Sangiran Early Man Site, initiated in May 2002, be reactivated and restructured by the national and local authorities to ensure a functioning site management authority;
g) Training activities for local authorities and staff from the archaeological office should be organized to build local capacity in the long-term conservation and management of the site, if necessary by requesting assistance to UNESCO;
h) The 2005 Master Plan for the site be implemented and strengthened in coordination with UNESCO, including by reviewing the boundaries of the core zone, possibly establishing a buffer zone, and the establishment of provisions to assess the impact of infrastructure or tourism development projects within the property, so as to ensure that they do not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of Sangiran;
i) The Sangiran Site Museum should be further improved in its presentation and interpretation, in close consultation with the Coordination Board, to ensure that it conveys the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and to reinforce the involvement of local communities, including young people, in the conservation of the site.