Tipasa (Algeria) Added to List of World Heritage in Danger
Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1982, Tipasa on the shores of the Mediterranean, comprises Phoenician, Roman, palaeochristian and Byzantine ruins alongside indigenous monuments such as the Kbor er Roumia, the great royal mausoleum of Mauritania. An ancient Punic trading-post conquered by Rome, Tipasa turned into a strategic base for the conquest of the kingdoms of Mauritania.
However, as early as 2000, during the Periodic Reporting Exercise for States in the Arab region, the Algerian authorities had called attention to significant problems at the site. These problems, recalled again during the Committee's 26th session, included the serious deterioration of the archaeological remains due to poor maintenance, vandalism and especially growing encroachment of adjacent communities on the site. Like many World Heritage properties inscribed in the Convention's early years, the actual boundaries of the site and its buffer zone were not clearly defined. As a result, much of recent urban construction is taking place within the site's buffer zone, with inevitable spillover effects on the site itself, including the construction of new inappropriate structures, and open sewage drainage ditches through the site. The absence of an effective management plan and the failure to implement a 1992 "Permanent Safeguarding and Presentation Plan" have compounded the problems facing the site.
Although the Committee had provided US$35,500 of emergency assistance for the site in 2001, an expert mission to the site early in 2002 reaffirmed the seriousness of the problems facing this important archaeological site. The mission report stressed the immediate need to establish a new buffer zone to protect the site, as well as the longer- term importance of new legislation and a comprehensive urban management plan. Short term goals would also include staff training and improvements to visitor management.