1.         Old Town of Lijiang (China) (C 811bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1997

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(v)

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/811/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1996-1996)
Total amount approved: USD 40,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/811/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; November 2008, UNESCO advisory mission. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Progressive loss of integrity and authenticity due to major tourism and commercial developments in and around the property

b) No clearly defined boundary or buffer zones;

c) Lack of a comprehensive Conservation Master Plan for the property and its sourroundings

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/811/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

The World Heritage Committee in its Decision 32 COM 7B.67 focussed on three main conservation issues: the drafting of a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value; the completion of an appropriate conservation master plan; and the capacity of the local implementation agency, the World Cultural Heritage Management Bureau. In its Decision 32 COM 8B.53,on a proposal for minor boundary modifications, the World Heritage Committee recommended deferral so that the State Party could consider enlarging the buffer zones, provide full details of their protective arrangements as part of the overall conservation master and management plans, and propose ways to protect the area between the three sites within the property to ensure key elements of the rural landscape that supported the settlements are sustained as well as key views of the mountains.

In order to assist the State Party to respond to these requests, a UNESCO advisory mission visited Lijiang in November 2008 and met with Chinese officials from national, provincial, municipal and county levels.The advisory mission confirmed the findings of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of January 2008 that the Old Town of Lijiang is currently witnessing the progressive loss of integrity and authenticity due to new tourism and other commercial developments in and around the inscribed sites of Dayan, Shuhe and, to a lesser extent, Baisha.

a) Draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

The advisory mission provided guidance to the national and local authorities in the preparation of a clear Statement of Outstanding Universal Value which would be the essential reference point for all future conservation and management planning of the property.

 

b) Boundaries of the property and Buffer Zones

As a follow up to the World Heritage Committee’s decision, the advisory mission highlighted on the need for a clear delimitation of the boundaries of Baisha and Shuhe, and on ways to protect the area between the three components of the inscribed property, particularly in the light of tourism and other development pressures already evident or being proposed.

The advisory mission recommended that a revised submission be made for minor boundary modification in order to extend the boundaries of the currently inscribed buffer zone in the case of Dayan and to establish buffer zones in the case of Baisha and Shuhe, larger than submitted in 2008. Protection for these buffer zones should be reflected in the conservation master plan and site management plan that are being developed and should be demarcated on the property in order to allow better interpretation of the property and appreciation of its Outstanding Universal Value by visitors.

c) Comprehensive Conservation Master Plan

The advisory mission was impressed with the work being carried out by Tongji University and collaborating agencies in the preparation of the conservation master plan but noted that work was not yet complete and that new threats to the property’s integrity seemed to be emerging, such as to the east between the existing built-up area of Dayan and the proposed railway station.

A further issue raised by the advisory mission concerned the institutional arrangements for the development, implementation and monitoring of management plans for the inscribed property. Previous reports have commented on the need for articulation of plans and coordination of regulations and interventions at Lijiang. The advantages of bringing the two plans together into a single conservation management plan (CMP) should be investigated but if it was decided to retain the division into two plans, the specific role of each plan should be clarified to remove inefficient and confusing overlaps.

 

d) Capacity of the World Cultural Heritage Management Bureau

The World Heritage Committee requested in its Decision 32 COM 7B.67 that the State Party strengthen the capacity of the World Cultural Heritage Management Bureau to implement and coordinate more effectively the planning initiatives needed to safeguard the property’s heritage values. The Bureau had been created in October 2005 to take local responsibility for the implementation of existing conservation rules and regulations as well as the development and implementation of the conservation master plan and site management plan. The advisory mission recommended that a review of the mandate and the capacity of the Bureau to perform its key role should be undertaken, possibly within 2009.

 

e) Public Participation

The advisory mission recommended that ways be found to strengthen public participation as a regular part of the process of developing Lijiang’s Conservation Master Plan and its subsequent implementation.

The State Party submitted a report on 30 January 2009 in response to Decisions 31 COM 7B.69 and 32 COM 7B. 67. This report included a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and a state of conservation report.

f) Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

The Statement largely adheres to the approved format for retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value but does not include the management and protection requirements necessary to maintain the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. This Statement will be evaluated by ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre and will be presented to the World Heritage Committee for examination.

g) Boundaries

The State Party’s response to the World Heritage Committee’s decision to defer the proposed modification of the boundaries, is that the World Cultural Heritage Management Bureau consider that the boundaries submitted as a minor modification in 2008 were “sufficient enough to ensure the security of the property and that it would not extend the scope of the buffer zones”.

h) Conservation Master Plan

The State Party’s response indicates that the comprehensive Conservation Master Plan, which it refers to as the “Conservation plan of World Heritage Site Old Town of Lijiang”, or simply the “Conservation plan”, has been under development by Tongji University since 2002 and has been approved by experts organized by the Yunnan provincial authorities and revised according to proposals from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the national Ministry of Construction. It remains unclear whether this plan now has been completed, has legislative force and is being implemented.

The State Party’s response also summarises the wide-ranging efforts made to build up the capacity of the Bureau personnel and indicates an intention to increase investment in professional training and to strengthen communication and cooperation with the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and other training institutions and networks in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

 

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS note that the conservation master plan and the management plan are being developed and that the former is nearing completion. Both are needed as a matter or urgency as tools to address the threats to the property. They are concerned that the State Party does not consider that it is possible to address the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee in respect of putting in place buffer zones to ensure the adequate protection of the property.

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.66

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.67, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Notes the continued efforts made by the State Party to improve management of the property, and its timely response to the requests made by the World Heritage Committee;

4. Requests the State Party to:

a) Complete as a matter of urgency the comprehensive Conservation Master Plan,

b) Consider a re-submission of a request for minor modification to the buffer zones and the possibility of an extension to the boundaries of the property in order to protect the property and the area between its three components,

c) Continue to strengthen the capacity of the World Cultural Heritage Management Bureau to implement and coordinate more effectively these planning initiatives;

5. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including information on the progress made in implementing the actions mentioned above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.