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Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela

Ethiopia
Factors affecting the property in 2012*
  • Earthquake
  • Housing
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Relative humidity
  • Water (rain/water table)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of clearly defined boundaries for the property and the buffer zone;

b) Impact of the four temporary shelters constructed in 2008;

c) Absence of a Management Plan for the property;

d) Insufficient urban and architectural regulations;

e) Urban development and encroachment around the property;

f) Impact of rainwater and humidity;

g) Impact of earthquakes;

h) Geological and architectural characteristics of the property.

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2012

Total amount provided to the property: USD 800,000 for the « Conservation Action Plan for Lalibela » -Phase 1 and Phase 2 (Norwegian Funds-in-Trust).

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2012
Requests approved: 3 (from 1980-2000)
Total amount approved : 93,300 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 1 February 2012, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela. The report addresses most requests made by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 34 COM 7B.44, but fails to provide details of the type and frequency of the monitoring arrangements for the temporary shelters or the development plan of Lalibela area. The report submitted contains detailed maps of the property boundaries and suggested buffer zone.

a) Monitoring arrangements for the temporary shelters

The State Party reports that following the completion of the temporary shelters in 2008, experts of the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) have established regular inspection procedures. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note with concern that details with regard to the type and frequency of these monitoring arrangements were not provided, and reiterate the importance of well-defined processes and indicators for the monitoring. These are particularly important for Aba Libanos Church, where the shelter was constructed against the advice of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in a location at risk of landslides, potentially aggravated by the shelter’s weight.

b) Urban encroachment and site management

Following the State Party’s report, urban encroachment was identified as the key problem in the management of the property. The Management Plan drafted is the product of successive stakeholder workshops and is described as currently in its consultation phase. Within this framework a resettlement action plan was developed, according to which some households were relocated from the property to a newly designated settlement zone. The emptied traditional Tukuls (vernacular round houses) are now being refurbished to develop them as additional tourist attractions.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that the Committee regrets that neither the completed development plan for Lalibela area nor the draft Management Plan have been submitted. They further note the reported resettlement of inhabitants of traditional Tukul structures in the property, and consider that the development of the emptied historic Tukuls as tourism attractions has the potential to impact on the association between the churches and the traditional community. Resettlement should therefore be preceded by a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage cultural properties.

c) Pilot project at Gabriel Rufael Church

Following the completion of technical studies funded by UNESCO/ Norway funds-in-trust of the Gabriel Rufael Church and based on archival research, photogrammetric surveys, GIS, and laser scanning of all the churches, the State Party reports that a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been drawn up with the World Monuments Fund, which will allow them to undertake training activities. In addition, the Norway-funded project has started preparations of the technical documents for the conservation and consolidation works. Information has been received by the World Heritage Centre that these works could be funded jointly through the US Ambassador’s fund and the World Monuments Fund.

d) World Bank Tourism Development Project

The State Party reports that the World Bank’s tourism development project is implemented at Lalibela in four components: destination development, capacity building, site promotion, and community involvement. At present the components destination development and site promotion are undertaken with a focus on training in handicraft, waste management, and access roads. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2012

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies acknowledge the submission of detailed maps for the property boundaries and suggested buffer zone. However, they note that the development plan, draft site Management Plan, resettlement action plan as well as further details on the World Bank Tourism Project and the monitoring type and frequency for the temporary shelters were not submitted. All these documents should be made available for review.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies further recommend that well-defined processes and indicators need to be developed for the monitoring of the temporary shelters, including their micro-climate effects. Furthermore, any planned demographic or other changes meant to strengthen tourist-targeted services in the property or its immediate surroundings should be preceded by a HIA. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2012
36 COM 7B.42
Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (Ethiopia) (C 18)

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2.   Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.44, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.   Acknowledges the information provided by the State Party, notably the development of maps of the property’s boundaries and suggested buffer zone, and requests the State Party to submit the finalized maps in the context of the retrospective inventory and plans of the suggested buffer zone as a minor modification;

4.   Encourages the State Party to finalize the consultation process for the draft Management Plan for the property, and also requests the State Party to submit the draft Management Plan, including the resettlement action plan and the development plan for Lalibela area for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

5.   Reiterates its request to the State Party to:

a)  Submit details of the type and frequency of monitoring arrangements for all temporary shelters,

b)  Regularly provide information about the World Bank Tourism Development Project that is being implemented at the property,

c)  Pursue its efforts to implement the pilot preservation project at Gabriel Rufael Church in cooperation with the World Monuments Fund;

6.   Further requests the State Party to conduct a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage cultural properties, to evaluate the potential impact of any planned demographic or other changes to strengthen tourist-targeted services in the property or immediate surroundings on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

7.   Requests furthermore 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. 

36 COM 8E
Adoption of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E,

2.   Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;

3.   Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

    • Australia:  Great Barrier Reef; Lord Howe Island Group; Gondwana Rainforests of Australia; Wet Tropics of Queensland; Fraser Island; Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte); Heard and McDonald Islands; Macquarie Island; Purnululu National Park;
    • Bangladesh: Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat;
    • Cambodia: Angkor;
    • China: Mount Taishan; The Great Wall; Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang; Mogao Caves; Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian; Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area; Temple and Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu; Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains; Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa; Lushan National Park; Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area; Old Town of Lijiang; Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing; Mount Wuyi; Dazu Rock Carvings; Mount Qincheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System; Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom; Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries – Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains;
    • Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea: Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve;
    • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Complex of Koguryo Tombs;
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo: Virunga National Park; Garamba National Park; Kahuzi-Biega National Park; Salonga National Park;
    • Egypt: Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley);
    • Estonia: Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn;
    • Ethiopia: Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela; Lower Valley of the Awash; Lower Valley of the Omo; Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town;
    • Gambia: Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites;
    • Gambia and Senegal: Stone Circles of Senegambia;
    • Ghana: Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions; Asante Traditional Buildings;
    • India: Taj Mahal; Keoladeo National Park; Sundarbans National Park; Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks;
    • Indonesia: Borobudur Temple Compounds; Prambanan Temple Compounds;
    • Islamic Republic of Iran: Bam and its Cultural Landscape;
    • Kazakhstan: Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi; Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly;
    • Madagascar: Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve; Royal Hill of Ambohimanga;
    • Malaysia: Gunung Mulu National Park;
    • Mali: Timbuktu; Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons); Tomb of Askia;
    • Mongolia: Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape;
    • Nepal: Sagarmatha National Park; Kathmandu Valley; Chitwan National Park; Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha;
    • New Zealand: Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand; New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands;
    • Nigeria: Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove;
    • Pakistan: Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro;
    • Philippines: Baroque Churches of the Philippines; Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park;
    • Republic of Korea: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple; Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Pangeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks; Jongmyo Shrine; Changdeokgung Palace Complex; Hwaseong Fortress; Gyeongju Historic Areas; Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites;
    • Solomon Islands: East Rennell;
    • Thailand: Historic City of Ayutthaya;
    • Turkmenistan: State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”; Kunya-Urgench;
    • United Republic of Tanzania: Serengeti National Park; Kondoa Rock-Art Sites; 
    • Uzbekistan: Historic Centre of Bukhara; Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz; Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures;
    • Viet Nam: Ha Long Bay; My Son Sanctuary; Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park;
    • Zambia and Zimbabwe: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls;
    • Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe National Monument; Khami Ruins National Monument; Matobo Hills;

4.   Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;

5.   Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:

    • World Heritage properties in the Arab States;
    • World Heritage properties in Africa;
    • World Heritage properties in Asia and the Pacific;
    • World Heritage properties in Latin America and the Caribbean;
    • World Heritage properties in Europe and North America. 
Draft Decision: 36 COM 7B.42

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.44, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Acknowledges the information provided by the State Party, notably the development of maps of the property’s boundaries and suggested buffer zone, and requests the State Party to submit the finalized maps in the context of the retrospective inventory and plans of the suggested buffer zone as a minor modification;

4. Encourages the State Party to finalize the consultation process for the draft Management Plan for the property, and also requests the State Party to submit the draft Management Plan, including the resettlement action plan and the development plan for Lalibela area for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to:

a) Submit details of the type and frequency of monitoring arrangements for all temporary shelters,

b) Regularly provide information about the World Bank Tourism Development Project that is being implemented at the property,

c) Pursue its efforts to implement the pilot preservation project at Gabriel Rufael Church in cooperation with the World Monuments Fund;

6. Further requests the State Party to conduct a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage cultural properties, to evaluate the potential impact of any planned demographic or other changes to strengthen tourist-targeted services in the property or immediate surroundings on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

7. Requests furthermore 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. 

Report year: 2012
Ethiopia
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 36COM (2012)
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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