1.         Borobudur Temple Compounds (Indonesia) (C 592)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1991

Criteria  (i)(ii)(vi)

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/592/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1998-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 5,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/592/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

April 2003: joint UNESCO/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/592/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

On 29 January 2003, the Governor of Central Java (Indonesia) requested from the Director-General of UNESCO the support of the Organization to review and finalize a proposed tourism development plan to enhance the presentation and tourism facilities at the Borobudur World Heritage property. This plan proposed the construction of a large shopping centre on four hectares of land in Zone 3, immediately outside Zone 2, of the property and approximately 880 metres from the Borobudur Temple itself.

To examine the proposal, the World Heritage Centre organized a UNESCO-ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to Borobudur between 16-20 April 2003. While organizing this mission, the Centre also requested the Indonesian authorities to provide further information concerning the plan of the project in English, accompanied by detailed maps showing the exact location of the proposed project. The Centre received this information on 25 April 2003 through the Permanent Delegate of Indonesia to UNESCO. The UNESCO-ICOMOS expert mission noted that:

(i)  The Department of Archaeology reported deforestation of the surrounding area, especially in Zone 5, but also in the hills and mountains beyond the World Heritage protected zones, due to population pressure and increasing urbanization. This deforestation has caused a change in the micro-climate change of the Borobudur Temple.

(ii)  The problem of the monument’s surface persists as one of the major yet unsolved conservation problems of the Borobudur Temple. However, this problem has become worse reportedly due to environmental changes induced by improper management of the protection zones. Localized treatment of the stone is ineffective, and it appears that sound environmental control is the only feasible long-term solution to control pollution and the microclimate of the monument. The environmental controls which are in place derive from the establishment of concentric rings of protective zones, each with a degree of development, the highest being Zone 1. However, these zones are reportedly inadequate, and micro-environmental changes, induced by actions that have occurred in the property’s concentric protective Zones have negatively impacted the property.

(iii)  Concerning weakness in the existing management mechanism:

(a)  In Zone 1, the zone of highest protection immediately surrounding the monument itself, where no construction of any type is permitted, the Department of Archaeology has cleared trees, shrubbery and grass and is in the process of constructing a paved parking lot for VIPs, which can accommodate 50-100 vehicles. The construction of such a large paved area adjacent to the monument is a principal contributor to the increase in temperature, and temperature gradient within the monument’s micro-climate.

(b)  In Zone 2, the site management support zone, which is under contractual management by a private management firm created for the purpose of managing tourism at the site, the number of commercial vendors has been allowed to grow uncontrolled from the originally planned 70 kiosks to approximately 2000. This has led to overcrowding, solid waste pollution, and social friction among the vendors who compete aggressively for visitor attention. In addition, the capacity of the vehicle parking lots has been greatly exceeded, with consequent crowding of the designated parking areas, and unregulated spill-over into other parts of Zones 2 and 3, and an overall increase in both temperature and air-borne pollutants.

(c)  In Zone 3, the commercial development zone, various proposals are being suggested by the local government authorities, which are responsible for the management of this zone, to develop this area with shopping complexes and other commercial tourist facilities. However, this area also functions as an environmental and visual buffer protecting the main monument itself. Moreover, recent research has confirmed the presence of archaeological material within this zone, especially in the area around Bukit Dagi. The currently proposed plans for shopping complexes in Zone 3 do not adequately take into consideration the conservation needs of the World Heritage property, but underscores its commercial development. While acknowledging the desire for large scale commercial development of the area to bring economic benefit to the surrounding populations, and also acknowledging the need to better control the present informal commercial activities at the entrance to the site, the UNESCO-ICOMOS mission noted that the best solution would be to discourage vendors to loiter around the property, and develop the existing marketplace in the settlements east of the main monument along the road axis leading to Chandi Pawon and Chandi Mendut.

(d)  The Zones 4 or 5 are designated protective zones but actually do not benefit from management control, which adds to the challenge for environmental and cultural heritage protection. Recent research has revealed that the mandala construction of the main monument is repeated in the landscape design of the surrounding countryside up to and including the ancient sacred volcano, Mt. Merapi, lying on the east-west axis of the monument.

(iv) There is a serious lack of on-site presentation and interpretation of the World Heritage values of the property to visitors. Today, there is no signage, printed information material, obvious property guide presence, nor indication of the sacred character of the property. This absence of interpretation of the heritage values of the site reinforces the view of visitors, vendor and local decision-makers that the values of the property lie in recreation and commerce. However, the Minister for Culture and Tourism of Indonesia is very much aware of this issue and has proposed a new long-term development plan for the site which focuses on the site’s intangible cultural heritage values through education, performing arts and the development of appropriate cultural enterprises. 

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


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.47

The World Heritage Committee [29],

1. Having examined the state of conservation of this property,;

2. Underscores the importance of reinforcing the legal management and development control mechanisms provided under the existing 5-zone management scheme for the property;

3. Requests the State Party to evaluate and possibly redefine the World Heritage protective boundaries and management guidelines pertaining to Zones 4 and 5 taking into consideration the findings of the recent research which indicate that the mandala form of the main monument is repeated at a larger scale in the surrounding landscape, and thus requires protection in an integrated manner;

4. Recommends that the State Party consider removing the new, paved parking lot from Zone 1 and restore the area to grass and shrubbery.  A small drop-off area for VIPs may be developed in front of the current guardian's house, with parking for VIP vehicles retained in Zone 2 at the foot of the hill on which the main monument is located; 

5. Recommends further that the State Party strictly minimizes vehicular access to Zone 1, considers removing vehicular parking from Zone 2, and bans major new road developments within Zone 3, although improvement of existing roads may be permitted.  As with all development proposals affecting the property, the State Party is invited to submit in advance to the Committee, any proposal for the development of roads;

6. Requests the State Party, as a first step, to organize and control the informal commercial activities within Zone 2, possibly through a system that involves the construction of bazaar facilities and licensing of stall occupants;

7. Recommends that, as a second step, a socio-economic study be undertaken to plan for a more viable commercial and marketing strategy of long-term benefit to members of the surrounding community, linked directly to the cultural traditions of the property and its surrounding area.  The long-term strategy for commercial development of the property must ensure that the environmental buffer zone around the main monument, and contained within current Zones 3 and 4 retains its agricultural or forested character; 

8. Expresses concern over the potential negative impact of the construction of major commercial/shopping centres near the property and within any of the protection zones, and recommends that such commercial developments be located within existing market places and commercial districts of the local towns;  

9. Endorses the national policy to improve the interpretation of the World Heritage value of the property to visitors, giving due emphasis to the local cultural history, intangible cultural heritage, meditative cultural practices which contribute to promote understanding of the spiritual and artistic values for which the property was recognized as World Heritage;

10. Recommends that visitor management guidelines pertaining to Zone 1 be elaborated to enhance the visitor's educational and authentic cultural experience of the property through regulations which encourage respect for the property;

11. Notes with concern the lack of management co-ordination between the authorities responsible for managing the different zones of the property;

12. Requests the State Party to establish an appropriate mechanism for the full co-ordination of the implementation of management policies and practices within the 5 zones, to better safeguard the entire property and simultaneously promote sustainable development; 

13. Requests that the findings and recommendations of the UNESCO-ICOMOS mission be examined in depth during the Experts Meeting on the Safeguarding of Borobudur, scheduled to take place in July 2003;

14. Requests the State Party to submit a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 on the short-term corrective measures taken and long-term development strategy proposed for the property in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.

[29]  Decision adopted without discusssion.