1.         Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) (Lebanon) (C 850)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

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

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1993-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 65,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

June 2003: World Heritage Centre reactive monitoring mission; April 2012: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Absence of legislative framework and comprehensive management plan;

b) Absence of coordination mechanisms;

c) Illegal constructions and encroachments;

d) Degradation of the mural paintings and buildings;

e) Uncontrolled tourist development and absence of visitor management

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

The State Party, as requested by the World Heritage Committee (35 COM 7B.52), invited a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to visit the property and submitted a state of conservation report on 31 January 2012. The mission report is being finalised and will be available at the following internet address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/36COM

The State Party’s report reiterates many of the issues raised in the state of conservation report presented to the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2011 (document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add), the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) and the Report on the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting in the Arab States presented at the same meeting in Brasilia. It explains that the legislative and management systems are in place but that effective implementation is not undertaken; similarly, while the elements of the property which contain the Outstanding Universal Value are intact and their integrity and authenticity are not significantly affected by the problems encountered, their conservation, setting and spiritual values are under threat. The accompanying letter from the Minister of Culture indicates that the State Party would like to develop an Action Plan, with the help of the World Heritage Centre, to safeguard the spiritual, cultural, natural and socio-economic values of the property.

The report lists the components of the legislative and management framework for the protection of the property and reiterates the continuing problems faced. These include: the complex ownership of the property with many stakeholders with different aspirations, the isolation of the valley, the previous neglect and poverty suffered by the residents who now wish to capitalise on the inscription, and the consequent development of illegal and inappropriate tourist facilities and unmanaged visitor access. While a management plan, developed in 1998 and complemented by management principles in 2007, is in place, its lack of implementation renders it ineffective and, for example, decisions to demolish inappropriate developments remain unfulfilled. The Community for the safeguarding of the Qadisha Valley (COSAQ), in charge of the management of the property, has been ineffective in bringing together the requirements and aspirations of different stakeholders, specialist conservators and the administrative authorities. There remain difficulties of rubbish disposal, policing and monitoring development and visitor access. Many of the wall paintings require conservation treatment.

The State Party is evidently aware of the management difficulties encountered, and steps have been taken to remedy the situation. Conservation projects, presentation and access improvement schemes have been developed using a variety of funding sources. A zoning plan for specific and appropriate types of development and an administrative plan establishing a legal framework appropriate for the valley have been adopted.

The joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS monitoring mission took place from 9 to 13 April 2012 and, although very short, it was able to confirm the information provided by the State Party and assess the global issues faced by the property, including:

a) Lack of an operational management structure;

b) Tourism development projects;

c) Illegal constructions in the Valley and on its margins;

d) Lack of waste management;

e) Uncontrolled visitor access;

f) Insufficient site custody;

g) Lack of maintenance of the roads and trails;

h) Lack of a conservation strategy for historic buildings;

i) Lack of a socio-economic development policy.

In addition, the mission was informed about a large development project within the property, entitled Planning Wadi Qannoubine, and had the opportunity to discuss it with various stakeholders, stressing in particular the severe negative impact it would have on the integrity and the Outstanding Universal Value of the property were it to be executed. Within the scope of this project, the elements which would cause the highest impact on the property relate to the means of access to the valley (electric cars, cablecars), the widening of the existing road in the bottom of the valley and the creation of five model villages for tourism accommodation.

The main recommendations of the mission for actions to be carried out in the near future include:

a) Establishment of a management structure with a permanent team in charge of maintenance, custody and visitor management;

b) In parallel, establishment of a funding mechanism to allow the functioning of the management structure and the implementation of rehabilitation and enhancement projects;

c) Undertaking of cadastral surveys to establish a detailed cartography of the property and an inventory of all buildings;

d) Revision of the recently submitted maps of the property and its buffer zone, so as to include all neighbouring villages in the latter;

e) Abandon the project of enlarging the road, creating cablecars or building model villages in the property;

f) Establishment of a conservation and restoration plan, for historic buildings as well as for rural habitat;

g) Establishment of a visitor management plan;

h) Establishment of a risk management plan;

i) Undertaking of studies aimed at improving the living conditions of the inhabitants within the property and of surrounding villages, notably through the branding of local agriculture products and handicrafts, and the development of an infrastructure for visitors and pilgrims.

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

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies note the continuing problems on this property described in the State Party’s report as well as the new developments envisaged. If these issues are not remedied in the near future, it seems inevitable that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property will be at risk. They stress the need for a coordinated official response to development control issues, stakeholder involvement, monitoring, appropriate funding and specialist conservation input. The request for assistance with the development of an Action Plan is noted.  

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.53

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.   Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.52, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.   Notes with concern the persistence of problems of management on the property reflected in the State Party’s report;

4.   Also notes the report of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property and endorses its recommendations;

5.   Urges the State Party to take all appropriate measures to maintain the attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value at the property, as recommended in the mission report, and in particular to:

a)  Revise the management mechanism for the property and establish a permanent management structure,

b)  Update the 1998 management plan on the basis of the 2007 principles, including a conservation plan and a sustainable visitor management plan,

c)  Abandon the project of enlarging the road, creating cablecars or building model villages in the property,

d)  Undertake socio-economic studies aimed at improving the living conditions of the communities in and around the property;

6.   Encourages the State Party to submit a Request for International Assistance for the development of the Action Plan mentioned in its report;

7.   Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.