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Megalithic Temples of Malta

Malta
Factors affecting the property in 2004*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Illegal activities
  • Input of excess energy
  • Solid waste
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2004
Requests approved: 2 (from 1981-1998)
Total amount approved : 74,073 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

In 2003 an exchange of letters took place between the World Heritage Centre and the Maltese authorities on several issues related to the Megalithic Temples of Malta, in particular on the proposal for interim landfills for domestic waste near the temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra in Qrendi. The State Party also requested UNESCO’s involvement in a EU-funded project for a Heritage Park for these two temples. Furthermore, a letter of complaint was received on the illegal construction of houses close to the Ggatija temple, on Gozo Island, which resulted in the destruction of ancient remains. The Centre also received information about continued vandalism and illegal bird-catching structures, including trappers’ huts, in the area of the temples.

The State Party provided the Centre with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which includes a section dedicated to the impact of the landfills on the World Heritage property. In the conclusions of the EIA, the temples are being identified as the most vulnerable receptors of permanent impacts resulting from vibration and chemical emissions, and will also be affected by temporary impacts resulting from developments activities (noise, dust, odour, artificial light, traffic). The EIA foresees in appropriate thresholds on vibration and chemical emission to prevent damage to the cultural heritage.  The EIA was transmitted to ICOMOS and ICCROM for comments.

Furthermore, the World Heritage Centre has been informed that the Ministry for Youth and the Arts, in consultation with Heritage Malta, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, and the Malta Tourism Authority, has prepared a draft brief for an International Competition for a Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Heritage Park.

ICOMOS stated that whilst the report is a thorough piece of work, ICOMOS continues to have grave reservations about the impact on the two monuments. Although landfill operations are estimated to last only 2–3 years, they will require during that period the construction of new roads and other facilities will seriously degrade the setting of the monuments, both visually and audibly. Noxious emissions may also be anticipated, given the nature of the refuse likely to be dumped here, which would be unacceptable to the many tourists and other visitors to the sites. Heavy traffic is to be expected, and this could have a deleterious impact on the structural stability of the megalithic monuments, which have suffered in the past from operations at the now-disused quarries.

ICOMOS is conscious of the socio-economic pressures on the State Party that have occasioned this proposal. In its opinion, however, the cultural significance of the two megalithic monuments, as acknowledged by their inscription on the World Heritage List, and the adhesion of the Government of Malta to the World Heritage Convention, should be seen as reasons for abandoning the current project and finding an alternative site elsewhere.

The jury for the planned international competition for a heritage park in Malta mainly consists of architects. ICOMOS suggests that representatives from different disciplines, such as archaeology, conservation sciences, and structural engineering should be considered as members of the jury. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2004
28 COM 15B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Congratulates the Maltese Government for the exemplary way by which it consulted with all parties concerned with the proposal to build a landfill for domestic waste near the Megalithic Temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra and acknowledges with appreciation the quality of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA);

2. Welcomes the decision by the Maltese Government to build the proposed landfill at an alternative site;

3. Regrets that few improvements have taken place to increase the protection and interpretation of the site, which is still affected by illegal constructions and vandalism;

4. Notes the information on the "archeological park" project including the construction of shelters over two of the temples and urges the State Party to submit the details of the project to the World Heritage Centre at the latest by 1 February 2005, in accordance with paragraph 56 of the Operational Guidelines (2002);

5. Further urges the State Party not to commence any construction before consideration by the Committee;

6. Recommends that a management plan be developed for all the seven temples that form the property, and not only for the two being affected by the plans of the Heritage Park;

7. Requests the State Party to provide an updated report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2005 on the project for a Heritage Park and the development of a management plan, in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 29th session in 2005.

Draft Decision:28 COM 15B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Acknowledges with appreciation the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the landfills for domestic waste near the property submitted by the State Party;

2.   Regrets that few improvements have taken place to increase the protection and interpretation of the site, which is still affected by illegal constructions and vandalism;

3.   Expresses its concern about the potential negative impact of the proposed landfills on the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property;

4.   Urges the State Party to seek another location for the landfills, the utility of which is not disputed;

5.   Recommends that a management plan be developed for all the seven temples that form the property, and not only for the two being affected by the plans of the Heritage Park;

6.   Requests the State Party to provide an updated report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2005 on the situation of the landfill and the project for a Heritage Park and the development of a management plan, in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 29th session in 2005. 

Report year: 2004
Malta
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 28COM (2004)
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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