1.         Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra (Albania) (C 569bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2005

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2002-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 44,964
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 1,367,014 is provided by the Albanian Government within the framework of the project 933 ALB 4000 “Safeguard and restoration of selected monuments within the World Heritage site of the Old City of Gjirokaster – Albania

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Illegal construction dating from the late 1990s

b) Lack of specific monitoring indicators

c) Lack of programme of archaeological excavations

d) Lack of adequate fire fighting arrangements in the historic urban zone

e) Lack of detailed tourism development plan

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 1 February 2011, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report addressing the issues identified by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). The report provides detailed information on the issue of illegal constructions and the development of a sustainable tourism strategy yet indicates very little progress on the other measures requested by the World Heritage Committee, such as monitoring and fire response.

a) Illegal constructions

The report informs that as a result of improved control, illegal constructions have been minimised in both Berat and Gjirokastra, and that no violations have been noted within either Historic Centre during 2010. Efforts have been made to curb the situation of uncontrolled constructions by compiling an inventory that categorises the constructions. In addition, projects have been prepared to integrate any modern facades with the traditional homes of the Historic Centre of Berat. In response to the issue of ongoing constructions in the area opposite the castle gate in Berat, the State Party points out that permissions for these constructions had been issued prior to 2009 in accordance with the existing law, yet due to various technical reasons they are being carried out at present. However, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies express their concern that constructions are being carried out when during the evaluation at the time of extension in 2008 the legal framework was considered adequate and therefore no permissions issued after the inscription of the property can be considered as complying with the legal requirements. 

b) Monitoring indicators

The current monitoring indicators for the Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra include the number of restorations on individual monuments and the annual funds allotted for these restorations. The State Party proposes as an additional indicator the number of restoration interventions that include a part of either Historic Centre.

c) Fire fighting measures

Berat still lacks safeguarding measures against the risk of fire within the Historic Centre. However, a project prepared in 2010 and financed by the European Union to improve infrastructure in the inhabited area within the fortress walls of the Kala quarter is expected to be implemented in 2011. Gjirokastra is still lacking a long-term plan for the installation of new hydrants as well as smaller fire fighting vehicles for entrance into narrower paths of the city.

d) Archaeological excavations

The report indicates that the Institute of Archaeology did not undertake any archaeological excavations in Berat or Gjirokastra between February 2009 and February 2011 and that rescue archaeological excavations are soon to take place as part of a massive restoration project on a large part of the castle.

e) Tourism

A Tourism Action Plan has been prepared for Berat with a main aim of developing tourism at a sustainable level in order to protect the unique values of the Historic Centre and respect the needs of the local community. While tourism is the driving force for the development of the local economy of Gjirokastra, no medium-term development plan for tourism is in place. Still a matter of urgency is the preparation of an overall tourism development plan for the protection of the entirety of the property. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

While the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the slow down of illegal constructions in Berat and Gjirokastra as stated in the State Party report, they are still extremely concerned about the lack of control regarding illegal constructions and regret that a long term plan has not been established to rectify the violations that have already occurred in order to improve the value and integrity of the property. Also still necessary is a more detailed set of monitoring indicators, which directly relate to the attributes that carry the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and are based on detailed inventories of the sites within the property. Additionally, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are of the opinion that little to no progress has been made to increase fire fighting measures since February 2009.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recognise the State Party’s efforts in restoration and intervention and encourage the State Party to continue such efforts, while at the same time regret the lack of a programme of archaeological excavations related to development projects.They additionally note the intention to carry out a ‘massive’ restoration project at Berat Castle and consider that it is essential that details of the scheme are submitted to the Advisory Bodies for assessment before any work is started.

They consider that there is a need to continue efforts in developing sustainable tourism in Berat and strongly recommend that the State Party carry forth these same efforts in Gjirokastra. In general, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies express concern that less attention is given to safeguarding of the values of Gjirokastra than to those of Berat. 

Overall, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are deeply concerned with the state of conservation of the property and therefore recommend that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission take place to assess the overall state of conservation of the property, progress in its management and whether the criteria for the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger are met. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.82

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.87, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Expresses its great concern regarding the lack of control for illegal constructions and regrets that a long-term plan has not been established to rectify the violations that have already occurred in order to improve the value and integrity of the property;

4. Also expresses its concern that no progress is being made to introduce a programme for archaeological interventions in case of implementation of major restoration, as well as for the lack of an agreed overall fire response plan for the entirety of the property;

5. Recognises the efforts made to develop a tourism plan in Berat which aims to support the needs of the local community within the framework of the management plan and also expresses its great concern that no such plan has been developed for Gjirokastra;

6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to urgently put in place an agreed action plan and timescale to address the current ones and prevent any further violations;

7. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to develop and implement detailed and appropriate monitoring indicators related to the attributes which carry the Outstanding Universal Value of the property based on detailed inventories;

8. Notes the intentions of the State Party to carry out a major restoration project at Berat Castle and requests the State Party to provide details to the World Heritage Centre, for assessment by the Advisory Bodies, before any work commences;

9. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to assess the overall state of conservation of the property, progress in its management and whether the criteria for the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger are met;

10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a progress report on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.