On 1 February 2005, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre a document entitled “Long Term Management and Strategy of Borobudur Temple”.
The document contains a brief summary of the provisions that apply to the five existing zones established around the World Heritage property. No reference is made to the three issues raised by the Committee in its Decision of 2004, namely the ban on major road developments, the halting of any construction of major commercial centres, and the erection of a new tourist entrance and retail precinct (Jagad Jawa).
An overview is also provided of the various factors affecting the state of conservation of the property, including pressure from visitors. The document indicates as well some of the actions which are being taken, or are envisaged, to address the conservation problems at the property, in the short, mid and long-term. These concern mostly the physical deterioration of the structure of the monuments. With the support of the Borobudur Study and Conservation Centre, training sessions were organized by the UNESCO Office in Jakarta between October 2004 and January 2005 for the local population, including tour guides and craftsmen, to promote the development of local activities for income-generation and community participation in heritage conservation. Furthermore, a project for the establishment of a Geographic Information System (GIS) survey, including training for staff members of the site management authority, which had been initiated in September 2003, continued at the property level. On the specific issue of pressure from tourists, for which the Committee had requested that a Visitor Management Plan be prepared, the only measure proposed concerns the provisions of special sandals that the tourists could wear to reduce the impact on the site. This proposal could also bring benefits to the local community involved in the production of the sandals that could be sold to the tourists as a souvenir. A full list of actions to be undertaken is also provided, including monitoring, maintenance, documentation etc. However, no information is included on the actual progress made in their implementation.
Concerning a strategy for the sustainable development of the property, which had been requested by the Committee, the State Party refers to the Buddhist concept of the Mandala, as an appropriate philosophical approach that could be adopted at Borobudur. No further elaboration is provided in the document on the actual implications of this approach for the activities to be carried out at the site. Mention is made however of a programme to develop cultural tourism in the area, with the full participation of the local communities. A Steering Committee, chaired by the Minister of Culture, and an Executive Team, led by the Governors of each concerned district, have been set up to guide the process. Again, no information is provided on the specific activities to be undertaken and on the progress made in their implementation so far. With respect to the overall management of the World Heritage property, no information is also made available on existing or proposed coordination mechanisms between the different responsible local authorities, and between them and the national authorities.
The report submitted by the State Party, while providing a good general coverage of the issues related to both the management of the archaeological property and of tourism, does not address sufficiently the points raised by the Committee in its Decision of 2004. The State Party should be commended on the efforts made to counter the various challenges for the conservation of the site, including by involving the local community. ICOMOS, however, noted that the recommendations for future action included in the document were too general and did not indicate whether the responsible management authorities have access to sufficient resources to implement the planning objectives.
The major issue regarding closer coordination of the management agencies responsible for the various components or zoning system of the property has yet to be addressed. This is a complex issue, particularly as various agencies are under the jurisdiction of different ministries and have quite different bureaucratic and policy objectives. It is not clear whether the proposed two-layer system of management (Steering Committee and Executive Team) is conceived as a permanent arrangement related to the overall management of the World Heritage property, or if its scope is limited to the specific initiative for the sustainable development of the region surrounding the monuments. In this particular respect, ICOMOS noted that more information should have been provided on the “Mandala” approach which the State Party envisages to adopt, and its operational implications.
On specific tourism management issues, the proposal to issue visitors with special sandals is practical, especially as it has the potential to engage local suppliers and achieve environmental improvements in Rawapening Lake. Thought should be given to accompanying the sandals with a well designed souvenir bag to allow visitors carry their own shoes along with them and reduce congestion at the sandal distribution location.
ICOMOS further stresses that, while visitor education to reduce littering and vandalism is a challenge with over two million visitors per annum, such programmes should be developed as much as possible. There are several recommendations contained in the recently published World Tourism Organization (WTO) Guidebook on Tourism Congestion Management for Natural and Cultural Sites that have direct relevance to Borobudur. In particular, the introduction of timed entry tickets; the introduction of visitor movement paths on and around the monuments; the introduction of interpretation signage located away from the monument, where guides can give explanations without disrupting other visitors; and continuing guide training and/or accreditation.