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Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

Sri Lanka
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Illegal activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Marine transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Weakness in the management of the Galle Heritage Foundation in its role as the managing authority for the property
  • Potential impact of a proposed port construction on the integrity of the property.
  • Intrusive and illegal constructions within the Galle cricket ground impacting on the integrity of the property;
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 1 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved : 3,334 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

2002: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; November 2007: UNESCO expert advisory mission; April/May 2008: UNESCO New Delhi Office advisory mission; February 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 28 January 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, in which the following progress is reported:

  • Proposed port: This provides further details of the proposed revised port project as follows:

-  Minutes of a meeting on 5 November 2013 of the Galle Port Development project: This mentions the impact of the Southern Expressway on the proposed port, but without further details being provided.

-  Letter from the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to the Ministry of National Heritage, dated 21 October 2013: This includes details of the Galle Port Development Revised Plan 2013, including photo-montages and cross sectional drawings, and the height of the jetty above the water line. The letter also tabulates responses to a report by ICOMOS from September 2013 that provided the State Party with an assessment of the documents that, at that time, had been received by the World Heritage Centre.

  • Boundaries and buffer zone: No information has been provided on the definition of a buffer zone, or on an extension of the property to include maritime archaeology.
  • Management system/structure: No information has been provided on enhancing the management mechanism of the property.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

Following the Committee’s Decision 37 COM 7B.67 (Phnom Penh, 2013), ICOMOS provided the State Party with an assessment of the documents that had been received by the World Heritage Centre. This ICOMOS report stated that it was evident from the information submitted that the proposed port development could have a strong negative impact on the cultural and natural landscape of the bay and therefore on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.  It also sets out clearly what further documents would need to be provided in order to assess the full impact of the project. These included cross-sectional drawings through the bay, as requested by the 2010 reactive monitoring mission, details of the height of the jetty above the water line; photo-montages of the proposed development viewed from the Old Town and Rumassala, details of the scale and location of land development to support the port including the hotel/restaurant development, and details of protection for the Hercules site. The report also stated that the archaeological survey of the property lacked clarity.

The port plans provided, although labelled as revised, are the same as those submitted in May 2013. This additional information, although responding to some of the requests of ICOMOS and the Committee in terms of content, has been provided at a very small scale and with a lack of clarity, particularly the cross sections and photo-montages. Although an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Archaeological Impact Assessment were mentioned, no information on the maritime archaeological impact assessment was provided, nor was there a technical study to ascertain potential impacts on the underwater archaeology, or a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), both of which were requested by the Committee.  The document also does not set out details of future land development other than to mention the location of new hotels, nor does it provide details as to how the Hercules site will be protected.

The documents submitted are not detailed enough to allow for a full assessment of potential impact of the proposed port on the OUV of the property. The State Party seems to be in favour of hosting an ICOMOS advisory mission to consider the issue of potential impact. The World Heritage Committee may suggest that such a mission be undertaken and that large scale plans be requested from the State Party, together with photo-montages of a high resolution in advance of such a mission. In addition to progress with an HIA, a maritime archaeological impact assessment may be recommended.  There is also some concern regarding the fact that the State Party’s report covers only the Port and does not provide any information from the Galle Heritage Foundation on progress on the boundaries or the buffer zone, the international cricket stadium or on the improvement to the overall management of the property. The development of the Port needs to be managed as part of the overall management of the property and, in order to achieve this, there is an urgent need to operationalise the cross-departmental functions of the Galle Heritage Foundation in order to strengthen coordination with other conservation and development bodies, as recommended by the 2010 reactive monitoring mission.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.21
Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (Sri Lanka) (C 451)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7B.72, 35 COM 7B.78, 36 COM 7B.68 and 37 COM 7B.67 adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh) sessions respectively,
  3. Acknowledges that the State Party has provided further information on the proposed Port project including cross sections and photo-montages, but regrets that these have not been submitted in sufficient detail to allow a full assessment of the potential impact of the proposed port on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and also notes that a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) has not been undertaken as requested, with a technical study to ascertain potential impacts on the underwater archaeology;
  4. Encourages the State Party to invite an ICOMOS advisory mission to the property, to be financed by the State Party, in order to consider the potential impact of the Port project, and requests the State Party, in advance of such a mission, to provide large scale plans, photo-montages of a high resolution, and to have made progress on a HIA and technical underwater archaeological studies;
  5. Expresses its concern that the State Party’s report has only addressed the Port and has not responded to other requests of the World Heritage Committee;
  6. Reiterates it request to the State Party to formally submit the proposals for the revision of the buffer zone and reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to consider an extension of the property to cover the maritime archaeology of the bay;
  7. Urges the State Party to make progress with reinforcing the overall management system for the property through the operationalising the cross-departmental functions of the Galle Heritage Foundation in order to strengthen coordination with other conservation and development authorities, as recommended by the 2010 reactive monitoring mission;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 40th session in 2016.
Draft Decision:   38 COM 7B.21

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7B.72, 35 COM 7B.78, 36 COM 7B.68 and 37 COM 7B.67 adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh) sessions respectively,

3.  Acknowledges that the State Party has provided further information on the proposed Port project including cross sections and photo-montages, but regrets that these have not been submitted in sufficient detail to allow a full assessment of the potential impact of the proposed port on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and also notes that a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) has not been undertaken as requested, with a technical study to ascertain potential impacts on the underwater archaeology;

4.  Encourages the State Party to invite an ICOMOS advisory mission to the property, to be financed by the State Party, in order to consider the potential impact of the Port project, and requests the State Party, in advance of such a mission, to provide large scale plans, photo-montages of a high resolution, and to have made progress on a HIA and technical underwater archaeological studies;

5.  Expresses its concern that the State Party’s report has only addressed the Port and has not responded to other requests of the World Heritage Committee;

6.  Reiterates it request to the State Party to formally submit the proposals for the revision of the buffer zone and reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to consider an extension of the property to cover the maritime archaeology of the bay;

7.  Urges the State Party to make progress with reinforcing the overall management system for the property through the operationalising the cross-departmental functions of the Galle Heritage Foundation in order to strengthen coordination with other conservation and development authorities, as recommended by the 2010 reactive monitoring mission;

8.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, 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 40th session in 2016.

Report year: 2014
Sri Lanka
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (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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