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Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

China
Factors affecting the property in 2007*
  • Housing
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management activities
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Uncontrolled urban development and expansion of tourism-related facilities in and adjacent to the boundary of the property;

b) Negative impact of the rehabilitation projects on the protection of the traditional urban tissue of the historic centre. 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2007
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2007**

March 2001, ICOMOS ; 20-25 April 2003, UNESCO Expert / ICOMOS ; 4-7 May 2005, World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

The State of Conservation report submitted by the State Party (29 January 2007) provides a detailed account of the progress made on the follow-up of the Decision of the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee (Durban, 2005) (29 COM 7B. 50) carried out by the Bureau of Cultural Relics of the Tibet Autonomous Region since 2005.

In response to the recommendations made by the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of May 2005, and reflected in Decision 29 COM 7B.50, the State Party has carried out the following activities:

a) Institutional Co-ordination on heritage protection and management

On 15 February 2006, a Steering Committee was established by the Government of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to improve the co-ordination of activities for the protection and management of the property. The Committee is chaired by the Vice Chairman of TAR, and its members are composed of the Mayor of Lhasa City, heads of the Construction and Culture Departments as well as of the Bureau of Cultural Heritage and Committee of Ethnic and Religious Affairs. The Secretariat to the Steering Committee is ensured by the Director-General of Cultural Relics Bureau with staff coming from relevant departments of Lhasa Municipality. The main function of the Steering Committee is to review the overall management of the whole Lhasa city and the day-to-day management of each of the World Heritage sites in Lhasa.

b) Redefinition of the World Heritage boundaries of the property:

As requested by the Committee, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre detailed maps indicating the revised boundaries of the World Heritage buffer zones pertaining to Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka. In the three cases, the buffer zones have been substantially enlarged. The redefined buffer zones have been formally approved and announced by the Government of Tibet Autonomous Region.

c) Reappraisal and revision of the Urban Development Plan of Lhasa and of the Conservation Plans for the World Heritage property

The Department of Construction of TAR and Lhasa Municipality are revising the Urban Development Plan of Lhasa. Moreover, as required by the existing laws and procedures, the Bureau of Cultural Relics of TAR has asked the China Institute of Cultural Property and the Henan Institute of Ancient Architecture to elaborate a master plan for the protection of Potala Palace and Norbulingka. Having completed field survey of the two places, the experts are preparing and finalizing the plan. The Bureau is also discussing the formulation of the plan for the protection of Jokhang Temple with the China Institute of Cultural Property. The revised Urban Development and Conservation Plan of Lhasa and the new plan for the protection of Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka will be enacted after the examination and approval by the competent authorities.

d) Activities relating to public awareness-raising

The TAR authorities have organized activities to publicise the value of the property and the work conducted for its protection, on the occasion of the China Cultural Heritage Day. Furthermore, information meetings on the restoration and renovation projects of Potala Palace and Norbulingka were organized for the media.

The State Party’s report includes also information on a renovation project being carried out at Banrao Courtyard in northwest of Jokhang Temple, as well as on the progress made on the implementation of the conservation projects which were carried out the Potala Palace (approximately USD 21.3 million) and Norbulingka (USD 8.75 million) from 2002 to 2007. Activities for the protection and maintenance project for Jokhang Temple have been scheduled to take place in 2008.

The area facing the Potala Palace has been cleared of recent buildings dating from 1970 onward, while a re-vegetation program was carried out in their place. The buildings removed included the Working People’s Cultural Palace, the farmer’s market, the Chief Labour Union of Lhasa and the Activity Centre for Women and Children. Similar projects (USD 7.5 million) for Norbulingka and Jokhang Temple have been planned for 2007 and 2008.

Efforts are being made also to improve site presentation and interpretation. The opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, starting from 1 July 2006, has caused a significant increase in the number of visitors to the property, particularly to the Potala Palace. The TAR Government introduced some management measures to reduce the negative impact of mass tourism on the heritage values of the property.

On 7 March 2007, China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) submitted to the World Heritage Centre a Protection Plan of the Shöl Area (Snow City), prepared by the Cultural Relics Bureau of TAR. This document has been transmitted to ICOMOS for its review and comments.

The World Heritage Centre considers that the report submitted by the State Party has addressed all the points raised by the Committee in 2005. The efforts made by the Chinese authorities in this respect should be commended.

It will be important, however, that drafts of the Lhasa City Urban Development Plan, and of the new plan for the protection of Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka, which are currently being revised, be transmitted to the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS for comments before final approval and enactment by the Chinese authorities. These Plans should be coherent and complementary and include conservation policies for the traditional buildings within the historic areas of the City, as well as specific provisions for land-use within the extended buffer zones. They should also be accompanied by an assessment of the foreseeable socio-economic impacts of the conservation policies adopted by the State Party for the World Heritage property on the local communities, as well as proposed mitigation measures.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2007
31 COM 7B.77
Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa (China)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.       Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2.       Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.50, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3.       Notes the efforts made by the State Party in improving the state of conservation of the property, particularly on the progress made in extending the boundaries of the property’s buffer zones and the conservation activities for Potala Palace, Johkang Temple and Norbulingka;

4.       Requests the State Party to continue the revision of the Urban Development Plan and the elaboration of conservation plans for the three areas of the property ensuring that they are coherent and complementary and include conservation policies for the traditional buildings within the historic areas of the City. The Plans should be prepared based on an assessment of the foreseeable socio-economic impacts of the conservation policies adopted by the State Party for the property on the local communities, as well as proposed mitigation measures;

5.       Also requests the State Party to share drafts of the above-mentioned Plans with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, before their finalisation and enactment by the competent authorities;

6.       Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

31 COM 8B.58
Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B.Add and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Refers the minor modification to the boundaries of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, China, back to the State Party to allow it to supplement the information provided on the proposed buffer zones for the three properties by providing:

a) areas and coordinates of the three buffer zones;

b) details of the protective policies in place;

c) rationale for the suggested buffer zones and whether consideration was given to enlarging the area protected.

Draft Decision: 31 COM 7B.77

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.50, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Notes the efforts made by the State Party in improving the state of conservation of the property, particularly on the progress made in extending the boundaries of the property’s buffer zones and the conservation activities for Potala Palace, Johkang Temple and Norbulingka;

4. Requests the State Party to continue the revision of the Urban Development Plan and the elaboration of conservation plans for the three areas of the World Heritage property ensuring that they are coherent and complementary and include conservation policies for the traditional buildings within the historic areas of the City. The Plans should be prepared based on an assessment of the foreseeable socio-economic impacts of the conservation policies adopted by the State Party for the World Heritage property on the local communities, as well as proposed mitigation measures;

5. Also requests the State Party to share drafts of the above-mentioned Plans with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, before their finalisation and enactment by the competent authorities;

6. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the Committee at its 33rd session in 2009. 

Report year: 2007
China
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 31COM (2007)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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