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

11-18 January 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission  

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Inappropriate tourism and other development projects;

b) No clearly defined boundary;

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

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 30 January 2008, providing information on the actions taken to address the issues raised by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 31 COM 7B.69, as well as “preliminary responses” to some of the recommendations of the January 2008 mission.

The State Party report notes that the Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning and Design Institute and its National Research Centre of Historic Cities are preparing a draft Conservation Master Plan for the property, and an updated management plan for the Old Town of Lijiang, and that these will soon be entering legal review and approval processes.

Concerning the provision of support to “local homeowners in their efforts to maintain their houses in accordance with traditional building practices”, the State Party notes the publication in 2002 of a Manual on Conservation and Maintenance of Local-style Dwelling Houses of the Old Town of Lijiang which provides guidelines for “maintenance, repair, renovation and re-building” of traditional houses, and as may be required, their adaptive re-use. Since 2003, the Global Heritage Fund, in agreement with the Administration of Conservation of the Old Town of Lijiang, has funded work on 299 traditional dwelling houses and 236 courtyards, in accordance with the above mentioned manual. The excellence of this project has been recognized by the UNESCO Bangkok Office Asia-Pacific Cultural Heritage Conservation awards programme of August 2007.

The report also documents a series of current major planning and infrastructure projects in the buffer zone and surrounding areas, focussed on “environmental improvement, scientific research and tourism”.

Finally, the State Party report comments on measures undertaken to address the stresses coming with a three fold increase in tourism since inscription in 1997. These measures have included accurate monitoring of tourism characteristics, behaviour and numbers, efforts through an “assessment system for business operations” to limit and control numbers, types and image of commercial outlets in the Old Town of Lijiang. In the context of a scientific research initiative, a “Special Plan on the Management of Traditional Business Culture Conservation in the Old Town of Lijiang” has been prepared which focuses on the location and presentation of Old Town businesses and formulates standards for their operations.

However the State Party report does not make clear the links between these planning efforts and the overall conservation master plan and management plan mentioned above.

The January 2008 joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission focused particular attention on the impact of tourism-related activities and other proposed development projects on the authenticity and integrity of both tangible and intangible heritage attributes of the site, and assessed the adequacy of current management mechanisms to protect the outstanding universal value of the property.

The mission report while noting the “great efforts and commitment” of concerned stakeholders and authorities at local and national levels and the significant improvements made, also suggested that “the scale of the threats to the townscape of Lijiang and its surrounding landscape from conservation/new development projects, other new buildings and services requires urgent action for the development of a Site management plan for Lijiang to be integrated into the Comprehensive Conservation Master Plan for the property”, and that these “need to address tourism services, infrastructural development, housing etc. in a holistic way and respect the authenticity and integrity of all three components of the World Heritage site”.

The mission’s recommendations were based on the recognition of “the persisting lack of institutional coordination, accompanied by clear conservation policies/strategies and procedures guided by a single agreed vision for the property.

The mission’s recommendations focus on the following points: