1.         Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor (China,Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan) (C 1442)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2014

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(v)(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/1442/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: UNESCO/Japan FiT project “Support for documentation standards and procedures of the Silk Roads World Heritage Serial and Transnational Nomination in Central Asia” (Phase I, USD 985,073 from 2011 to 2015); UNESCO/Japan FiT project “Support for Silk Roads World Heritage Sites in Central Asia” (Phase II, USD 697,796 from 2015 to 2018)

Previous monitoring missions

March 2016: ICOMOS Advisory mission to the Talgar component site in Kazakhstan

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Threats identified at the time of inscription of the property:

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 27 November 2015, the State Party of China submitted a state of conservation report, an executive summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/documents. On 15 and 29 January 2016 respectively, the States Parties of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan submitted their state of conservation reports, which are also available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/documents.

An ICOMOS Advisory mission visited the component site of Talgar, Kazakhstan, from 21 to 23 March 2016. The mission report is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/documents.

The three State Party reports have addressed the requests of the Committee at the time of inscription as follows:

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

Well-detailed reports have been provided by all three States Parties. The information they include has gone much beyond what was requested by the Committee and contains useful and positive updates on conservation, management and general monitoring activities. As the reports relate to a single serial property, it would have been preferable if this information had been collated and sent as one report.

Considerable progress has been made with the planning and the implementation of interpretation for the component sites in China, in order to strengthen the understanding of their relationship to the overall Changa’an-Tianshan Corridor and to the wider Silk Roads network. Of particular interest is the project in China, which aims to incorporate interpretative material into regional cultural tourism resource plans and educational programmes to enhance heritage outreach and encourage local communities to participate in site management and conservation.

The majority of the component sites now have management plans, but these still need to be completed for the eight component sites in Kazakhstan and updated for the three component sites in Kyrgyzstan.

Research is ongoing on the important smaller sites along the route that contribute so much to its use by travellers and reflect its sophisticated infrastructure. It is noted that minor boundary modifications might be brought forward by Kyrgyzstan for one or more caravanserais and from China for selected beacon watch towers.

Likewise, research has continued on the relationship between settlements and their environment with regard to the remains of elaborate water management systems. It is noted that a minor boundary modification might be brought forward by Kazakhstan for the irrigation system that supported Karamergen, and in time more evidence might emerge concerning the irrigation system at Qocho City, China.

The challenge of using technology to help monitor related sites has been addressed in China and is being proposed in both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in collaboration with the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST, China).

For the proposed road across the Talgar component site in Kazakhstan, it is recommended that the Committee express its concern that this major project progressed so far without any consultation with the Silk Roads Coordinating Committee or with the World Heritage Centre, and that it was planned directly cross the archaeological site without any archaeological investigations or Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) being undertaken. If construction work had continued, it would have had an irreversible impact on the integrity and authenticity of the site and on the overall OUV of the serial property. It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Kazakhstan to immediately put in place a moratorium on the road construction while options are being considered for alternative routes outside the boundaries of the component site and its buffer zone. Any such alternative would need to be presented with an HIA for evaluation before any formal commitments are made and/or any construction work undertaken. Furthermore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Kazakhstan to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the Talgar component site and other sites of the serial property in Kazakhstan to consider the implementation of the recommendations of the ICOMOS Advisory mission and the progress accomplished with the development of management plans for all components sites in Kazakhstan.

Finally, information on the reconstruction projects in Talgar and for residential development in the buffer zone also needs to be presented to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. In the meantime, it is recommended that the Committee suggest that no further work be carried out in either of these areas.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.34

The World Heritage Committee,
  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 8B.24, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the detailed reports submitted by the three State Parties of China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan addressing the requests made by the Committee at the time of inscription of the property;
  4. Notes the on-going and essential work on interpretation to allow a better understanding of how the 22 component sites in China relate to the overall Changa’an-Tianshan corridor and to the wider Silk roads network, and urges the relevant States Parties to complete their ongoing interpretation projects;
  5. Commends the initiative of the State Party of China to use interpretive material to enhance heritage outreach efforts and encourage local communities to participate in site management and conservation work, and suggests that ways should be found to promote this work in other components of the property;
  6. Also notes that research on important smaller sites in Kyrgyzstan along the corridor is ongoing, and that minor boundary modifications might be brought forward, in due course, by the State Party of Kyrgyzstan for one or more caravanserais and from the State Party of China for selected beacon watch towers;
  7. Further notes the detailed work undertaken on the remains of elaborate water management systems, and that a minor boundary modification might be brought forward by the State Party of Kazakhstan for the irrigation system that supported Karamergen;
  8. Also commends the initiative of the State Party of China to explore new technologies for daily monitoring work in 22 component sites in China to improve data collection, as well as its collaboration with the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre in Xian (IICC-Xi’an) on an ongoing programme to explore new methods;
  9. Supports the proposed collaboration between the States Parties of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST, China) in relation to monitoring of remote sites;
  10. Regrets that no substantial progress has been made yet to create management plans for the eight component sites in Kazakhstan, and also urges the State Party to make progress with this work and submit the completed plans to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies by 1 December 2017, and requests the State Party of Kyrgyzstan to update its management plans and confirm that this has been achieved, by 1 December 2017;
  11. Expresses its extreme concern that proposals for a major road directly across the Talgar component site in Kazakhstan were planned and started being implemented without any details being provided either to the Silk Roads Coordinating Committee or to the World Heritage Centre, and in contravention with the national legislation;
  12. Taking into account a moratorium imposed by the State Party of Kazakhstan on the road and bridge construction, further urges the State Party of Kazakhstan to explore other routes outside the boundaries of the Talgar site and its buffer zone, and to dismantle the parts of the bridge that have already been constructed;
  13. Also expresses its concern that reconstruction work is ongoing at the Talgar site without any details having been submitted for review and seemingly without adequate evidence to justify the work, and that residential development has been built in the buffer zone, which has a highly adverse impact on the setting of the Talgar Citadel;
  14. Urges furthermore the State Party of Kazakhstan to halt the residential development in the buffer zone and to provide full details of the project to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  15. Recommends the State Party of Kazakhstan to address the governance issue at the local level in order to ensure adequate planning, efficient management and decision-making;
  16. Urges moreover the State Party of Kazakhstan to address the recommendations of the ICOMOS Advisory mission, initiated by the State Party and carried out in March 2016, with regard to protection, management and awareness-raising and to take all necessary actions to ensure the safeguarding of the authenticity and integrity of the Talgar component site of the serial property;
  17. Also requests the State Party of Kazakhstan to invite, as soon as possible, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the Talgar component site and other sites of the serial property in Kazakhstan, to consider the implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory mission and the progress accomplished with the development of management plans for all components sites in Kazakhstan;
  18. Further requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, a joint 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 42nd session in 2018.