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Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab)

Lebanon
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Housing
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Absence of legislative framework and comprehensive management plan;
  • Absence of coordination mechanisms;
  • Illegal constructions and encroachments;
  • Degradation of the mural paintings and buildings;
  • Uncontrolled tourist development and absence of visitor management.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 4 (from 1993-2004)
Total amount approved : 65,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 5 March 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report. This brief report acknowledges that during the past year the property has been subject to projects considered by the State Party to have impacted negatively on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and in particular its authenticity. It also indicates that a lack of adequate management has contributed to what is seen as a degradation of the state of conservation. In order to address immediate issues, the Ministry of Culture has taken measures to limit the impact of three projects.

  • Monumental cross and mausoleum at Bcharreh: This project involved the construction immediately next to the small church of Saint George of a large, 13 metre high cross above a 4 metre mausoleum mound. Construction work started in early 2013, apparently without any permits being issued and in a zone where construction is forbidden under comparatively new urban planning regulations. The small rectangular flat roofed church of Saint George is part of the monastery of Mar Lichaa (Saint Elisha). Sited on the top of a steep cliff, it is part of a complex of numerous caves and hermitages associated with Maronite eremitism. The mound and cross would have completely overwhelmed the intimate relationship between the church and its dramatic, sacred valley landscape and would have had a highly negative visual impact on its OUV and in particular on the strong sense of place of the property in its context. The State Party reports that the project has been completely abandoned and the reinforced concrete structure of the mausoleum removed following a negative review by ICOMOS.
  • Works at the eastern entrance of the Forest of the Cedars of God: Excavation works and construction of a structure to host a wedding ceremony have been undertaken in the immediate vicinity of the World Heritage Site, within the buffer zone. In two letters to the Ministry of Culture dated 14 August and 23 October 2013, the World Heritage Centre enquired with the State Party about the measures to address the damages incurred to the property. On 17 August 2013 the Ministry of Culture expressed concern about these works and about their impact on the environment and on the site’s visual integrity and reported that the project was halted and the concrete layer removed leaving behind a mound of earth. The State Party reiterated this information in its report and stated that the “rehabilitation” of the area was being negotiated with the owner of the land.
  • Road: In response to negative comments by the 2012 mission on the impact of a proposed new road around Qannoubin Monastery (as part of a wider tourism programme), the project has been scaled down to a narrow stone paved rural road. A sample section of 40 metres has been constructed as requested by the Ministry of Culture. The Directorate General of Antiquities has requested a management plan before authorizing work on the entire 4.5 km.
  • Large statue, and construction works on the edge of the valley’s cliff: In April 2014, the World Centre received photographs that show a large statue, an abandoned concrete structure and a large pile of stand on the edge of the valley’s cliff, all of which are likely to impact the OUV and the integrity of the property. On 28 April 2014, the World Heritage Centre wrote to the Lebanese Government requesting the verification of the source and content of this information and recalled the necessity of informing it of any intention to undertake or authorize new constructions in an area protected under the Convention.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

It is noted that remedial actions have been taken to reverse work on a cross and mausoleum at the church of Saint George within the property, and excavation and construction works in the vicinity of the property in the buffer zone. It is a concern that these projects progressed so far without any permission and in contravention of the current zoning regulations that had been reported to the Committee in 2012. In both cases, it is considered that priority should be given to reinstating the landscape as it was before building work commenced, rather than undertaking afforestation.

A satisfactory sample of stone paving has been completed for the projected road around Qannoubin Monastery which has been downgraded as recommended by the 2012 mission. No confirmation has been provided to indicate whether the Committee’s request to abandon the associated cable cars and model villages has been complied with.

The State Party’s report did not respond to the Committee’s requests relating to the recommendations of the 2012 mission. In particular there is a need for the following:

  • Establishment of a management structure;
  • Establishment of a funding mechanism to allow the functioning of the management structure and the implementation of rehabilitation and enhancement activities;
  • Undertaking detailed cartography of the property and an inventory of all buildings;
  • Revision of the maps of the property and its buffer zone to include neighbouring villages in the latter;
  • Elaboration of a conservation and restoration plan;
  • Elaboration of a visitor management plan;
  • Elaboration of a risk preparedness plan;
  • Undertaking of studies aiming at improving the living conditions of the inhabitants of the property and of surrounding villages.

The problems with the planning violations for the cross and mausoleum at the church of Saint George, the large statue, and construction works on the edge of the valley’s cliff, and the excavation and construction works in the buffer zone are symptomatic of the general lack of coordinated management, as discussed during the 2012 mission. There is an urgent need to address the recommendations of the mission and put in place a coordinated official response to development control issues, stakeholder involvement, monitoring, appropriate funding, and specialist conservation input. As stated in the 2012 state of conservation report, these measures need to be addressed in the near future to mitigate threats to the OUV of the property.

It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to apply for international assistance, specifically for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2012 mission.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.1
Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) (C 850)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.53, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3. Welcomes progress made with the construction of a sample of the proposed paved road around Qannoubin Monastery; and requests that the project plan for the remainder of the road be submitted for review before work progresses;
  4. Reiterates its request to abandon the associated project of cableways and model villages in the property;
  5. Notes with extreme concern the planning violation near the church of Saint George and the excavation and construction works in the property and its buffer zone, and also notes that remedial measures have been taken to demolish the mausoleum structure and halt construction works; and also requests that details are provided as to how the landscape will be rehabilitated as it was before both works commenced;
  6. Further notes the State Party’s acknowledgment of the negative impacts arising from the lack of adequate management;
  7. Regrets that the State Party has not responded to the main recommendations of the 2012 mission and reiterates its request to implement these, and in particular to:
    1. Revise the management system for the property and establish a permanent management structure,
    2. Update the 1998 management plan on the basis of the 2007 guidelines, including a conservation plan and a sustainable visitors management plan,
    3. Undertake socio-economic studies aiming at improving the living conditions of the communities in and around the property;
  8. Reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2012 mission;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

Draft Decision:   38 COM 7B.1

The World Heritage Committee,

  1.   Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2.   Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.53, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3.   Welcomes progress made with the construction of a sample of the proposed paved road around Qannoubin Monastery; and requests that the project plan for the remainder of the road be submitted for review before work progresses;
  4.   Reiterates its request to abandon the associated project of cableways and model villages in the property;
  5.   Notes with extreme concern the planning violation near the church of Saint George and the excavation and construction works in the property and its buffer zone, and also notes that remedial measures have been taken to demolish the mausoleum structure and halt construction works; and also requests that details are provided as to how the landscape will be rehabilitated as it was before both works commenced;
  6.   Further notes the State Party’s acknowledgment of the negative impacts arising from the lack of adequate management;
  7.   Regrets that the State Party has not responded to the main recommendations of the 2012 mission and reiterates its request to implement these, and in particular to:

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

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

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

  1.   Reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2012 mission;
  2.   Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.
Report year: 2014
Lebanon
Date of Inscription: 1998
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
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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