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Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz el-Rab) (Lebanon) (C 850)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1998
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/850/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 65,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
June 2003: World Heritage Centre Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2012: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission.
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Absence of legislative framework and comprehensive management plan
- Absence of coordination mechanisms
- Illegal constructions and urban encroachments
- Degradation of the mural paintings and buildings
- Uncontrolled tourist development and absence of visitor management
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015
On 2 February 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/850/documents/. This report addressed the recommendations of the Committee at its 38th session (Doha, 2014), which in turn referred to the main recommendations of the 2012 mission:
- Paved Road leading to the Monastery of Our Lady of Qannoubine: a detailed project report for the road access project for the Monastery of Our Lady of Qannoubine, was submitted for review. This included detailed plans, profiles and technical specifications. The major project consists of straightening and paving a single-track access road with passing places over a distance of 4.5km. The project proposal does not include the problematic elements of the 2011 draft project such as a cableway and a model village. Remedial measures at the Church of St George: a landscaping proposal for this area will be drawn up, but no details have been provided.
- Management – update of the 1998 Management plan: the valley management structure has been revised by the Maronite Patriarchate. The new structure is still presided over by a representative of the Maronite Patriarchate. It includes representatives of the two religious orders, Lebanese and Mariamite, and two chairs of the federation of municipalities of Bcharreh and Zghata. However, although a director and an office executive have been assigned, the management structure does not have the financial resources to allow it to function. A management plan is being planned in the near future. The State Party notes that in the absence of a functioning management structure and adequate regular maintenance, several monuments are suffering conservation problems. A Management and Conservation Action Plan, initiated and funded by the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut through the UNESCO regular programme, is being prepared. It consists of site management improvements, good practices in the conservation of the property and proposals for pilot projects to be implemented in the valley as well as in the villages.
- Local Communities: In the framework of socio-economic studies aimed at ameliorating the living conditions of communities in and around the property, a study has been commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism and will be carried out in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
A detailed technical review of the proposed improvements to the access road to the Monastery of Our Lady of Qannoubine has been submitted to the State Party by ICOMOS. This indicates that the overall alignment and cross section of the proposed road appears satisfactory. Although the principle of paving the road with natural stone coating is acceptable, the standard pavers suggested would give the road an urban look, which would not be appropriate for its rural location. Suggestions have been made for alternative, more irregular surfaces. In order that this road is properly integrated into its sensitive landscape, it is suggested that the project team should include a landscape architect, or other specialists who can advise on the local environment and visual aspects. In addition, the project should include management measures to control the speed and types of vehicles allowed, and avoid new development adjacent to the road.
Progress with defining a prioritized programme of conservation is welcomed and should be integrated in the Action Plan prepared in cooperation with the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut.
It is recommended that the Committee expresses its concern that three years after the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission, few of its recommendations have been implemented. These include the need to develop a working management structure, the needs for plans on conservation and restoration, visitor management and risk prevention, the need to secure adequate funding, and the need for a detailed inventory of land and buildings. Among the short-term projects recommended by the mission, were the restoration of chapels, ruined buildings, covered canal, and terraces that are key attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), as well as the establishment of an agricultural project, the repair and restoration of terraces, and waste management in the framework of a proactive management approach that would provide socio-economic benefits for the local communities.
Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.55
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.1, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
- Encourages the State Party to elaborate and implement the Action Plan for the management and conservation of the property, in collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut and the World Heritage Centre, and to integrate in it a prioritized programme of conservation;
- Notes that a project to improve the landscape around the Church of St George will be drawn up and requests the State Party to submit details;
- Also notes that a socio-economic study aimed at improving the living conditions of the communities in and around the property has started;
- Takes note of the new management structure, but also of the lack of resources to allow it to function;
- Expresses its concern that three years after the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission, few of its recommendations on management and conservation have been addressed;
- Urges the State Party to operationalize the management structure and update the Management Plan and, once the Conservation Action Plan has been approved, address urgent conservation needs of the property related especially to chapels, ruined buildings, terraces and the covered canal;
- Also urges the State Party to consider the other recommendations of the 2012 mission, including ways to improve the socio-economic development of the valley in the framework of a sustainable management plan and through the organization of a workshop with the support of the World Heritage Centre;
- Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 41st session in 2017.