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Abu Mena

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Rise of the water table, and ensuing damage arising from changes to water table level
  • Impact on structures due to earth trembling and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment (works completed)
  • Lack of conservation plan, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc.)
  • Need for a management plan, to include research, presentation and interpretation, the role of stakeholders (e.g. the Mar Mena community), staffing, sponsorship, visitor facilities, access, etc.
  • Encroachments within the property and inappropriate recent constructions
  • Lack of engagement with local communities and other stakeholders
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • A land-reclamation programme and irrigation scheme with no appropriate drainage mechanism for the agricultural development of the region has caused a dramatic rise in the water table;
  • The destruction of numerous cisterns, disseminated around the property, has entailed the collapse of several overlying structures. Huge underground cavities have opened in the north-western region of the property;
  • A large, banked road has been built to enable movement within the property.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279
Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 1 (from 2001-2014)
Total amount approved : 7,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

2002: Expert mission; 2005, 2009 and 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 6 February 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/, in which the following activities are reported:

  • Measures are being taken to implement a Management Plan, comprising a table of 11 activities and projects scheduled over three years;
  • A Conservation Plan has been prepared for the archaeological area in the south wall of the long side of the Great Basilica. Other components of the property, including the tomb's burial chamber, some walls of the visitor's courtyard, and the northern and double bathrooms also require conservation;
  • A Board of Trustees has been formed from the ministries and stakeholders involved in the management of Abu Mena;
  • Encroachments have previously been removed from the property, and the new Board of Trustees is in discussion with local populations regarding the removal of inappropriate new constructions;
  • The Ministry of Antiquities has approved ‘The Efficiency-Raising and Maintenance of the Groundwater Lowering Project’ and is implementing it, in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Irrigation. The works, which are being undertaken under contract, include purification and development of wells, and raising the efficiency of all pumps and production lines. There is also a proposal to plant hydrophilic plants to reuse and decrease the underground water;
  • The State Party has issued an invitation for an Advisory mission to the property, to provide advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies;
  • The Projects Sector of Ministry of Antiquities is preparing a conservation and capacity building plan, but requires funding for its implementation;
  • The Ministry of Antiquities, in coordination with those in charge of the monastery and other stakeholders, proposes to establish a visitor centre at the property. This project has already received approval from the Ministry’s Permanent Committee;
  • The Ministry of Antiquities has approved modified boundaries for the property with the aim of maintaining and preserving it. The changes involve removal of two triangular areas, across a canal, neither of which contain archaeological remains and both of which are under cultivation. The area removed is approximately 4.5% of the property area. There is a suggestion that these excisions may facilitate construction of a boundary wall, which would discourage encroachments. No proposal has been made regarding the buffer zone for the property and no formal boundary modification request has been lodged.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The property has been on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2001; corrective measures were identified in 2006, the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) was determined in 2007 and, in the same year, the State Party was requested to implement the corrective measures by 2010. Since then, the attributes, which contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have deteriorated, notwithstanding some remedial actions. The corrective measures have not been completed and the property has not yet achieved the DSOCR.

The Committee has been requesting the completion of a Management Plan for the property for more than a decade.  The Management Plan presented most recently is a schedule of activities and projects, but does not include basic requirements for a Management Plan for a World Heritage property, such as management structure, resources, statutes, research, presentation and interpretation, or the role of stakeholders. Similarly, while the preparation of a Conservation Plan for part of the Great Basilica is welcome, what is actually required is a comprehensive Conservation Plan, which addresses all of the significant components of the property. The conservation and capacity-building plan being prepared by the Projects Sector of Ministry of Antiquities may address some of these requirements, but is currently lacking funding for implementation.

The removal of encroachments (which had occurred in 2016) is welcome, but inappropriate new constructions, which are inconsistent with OUV, remain within the property.

The ‘Efficiency-Raising and Maintenance of the Groundwater Lowering’ is on the one hand a positive step in addressing a longstanding and substantial threat to the OUV of the property, but also of concern in light of the previously identified unintended damage arising from changes to the water table (Decision 37 COM 7A.23). The need for mitigation measures for the archaeological remains once the water table has been lowered and stabilized (Decision 40 COM 7A.9) and the findings of the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission that electrical pumping was unsustainable in the long term, and that associated analysis of ways to address the underlying causes of the rising water table are required. This matter should be addressed by the forthcoming Advisory mission.

The proposed visitor centre project should be subject to a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) prepared in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage properties, and submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies.

The State Party has not yet submitted details of all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly those at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, or initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property prepared by the Ministry of Antiquities and the Abu Mena Monastery administration, for review prior to implementation, including HIAs, as requested in Decision 40 COM 7A.9.

The State Party should determine an appropriate buffer zone and formally submit a revised modification of the boundaries of both the property and buffer zone, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7A.32
Abu Mena (Egypt) (C 90)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.9, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Continues to express great concern regarding the state of conservation of the property and the low level of implementation of the recommended corrective measures;
  4. Notes that the State Party has submitted a schedule of management actions and projects, but urges it to prepare a comprehensive integrated Management Plan for the property;
  5. Also urges the State Party to proceed with comprehensive implementation of the corrective measures, to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, with particular attention to the Management Plan and the following issues:
    1. Preparation of a conservation plan for the entirety of the property, which includes a condition survey and the identification of priority interventions to ensure stabilization of archaeological remains,
    2. Removal of inadequate new constructions and the creation of facilities to allow for religious uses in areas outside the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone;
  6. Welcomes the ‘Efficiency-Raising and Maintenance of the Groundwater Lowering’ project, but reiterates its request that the State Party undertake an analysis of ways to address the underlying causes of the rising water table and elaborate a project to address them, as well as mitigation measures for the archaeological remains once the water table has been lowered and stabilized;
  7. Also notes that the State Party has invited a technical Advisory mission to the property to provide advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies;
  8. Requests the State Party to submit a revised modification of the boundaries of both the property and buffer zone, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the proposed visitor centre, which has particular regard to potential impact on the OUV of the property, and is prepared in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details for all other on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly those at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, and initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property prepared by the Ministry of Antiquities and the Abu Mena Monastery administration, for review prior to implementation;
  11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an 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;
  12. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
41 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
    • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 41 COM 7A.54)
    • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 41 COM 7A.55)
    • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 41 COM 7A.2)
    • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 41 COM 7A.23)
    • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.4)
    • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 41 COM 7A.24)
    • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.6)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.7)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.8)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.9)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.10)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.11)
    • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 41 COM 7A.32)
    • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.3)
    • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.18)
    • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 41 COM 7A.33)
    • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.34)
    • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 41 COM 7A.35)
    • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 41 COM 7A.36)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 41 COM 7A.37)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 41 COM 7A.38)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 41 COM 7A.39)
    • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 41 COM 7A.40)
    • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 41 COM 7A.41)
    • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 41 COM 7A.14)
    • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 41 COM 7A.28)
    • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 41 COM 7A.29)
    • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 41 COM 7A.30)
    • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 41 COM 7A.56)
    • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 41 COM 7A.15)
    • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 41 COM 7A.42)
    • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 41 COM 7A.43)
    • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 41 COM 7A.25)
    • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 41 COM 7A.26)
    • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.16)
    • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 41 COM 7A.21)
    • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 41 COM 7A.19)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 41 COM 7A.44)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 41 COM 7A.45)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 41 COM 7A.46)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 41 COM 7A.47)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 41 COM 7A.48)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 41 COM 7A.49)
    • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 41 COM 7A.31)
    • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 41 COM 7A.22)
    • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.17)
    • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.1)
    • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 41 COM 7A.57)
    • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 41 COM 7A.27)
    • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 41 COM 7A.51)
    • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 41 COM 7A.52)
    • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 41 COM 7A.53)
      Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.32

      The World Heritage Committee,

      1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
      2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.9, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
      3. Continues to express great concern regarding the state of conservation of the property and the low level of implementation of the recommended corrective measures;
      4. Notes that the State Party has submitted a schedule of management actions and projects, but urges it to prepare a comprehensive integrated Management Plan for the property;
      5. Also urges the State Party to proceed with comprehensive implementation of the corrective measures, to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, with particular attention to the Management Plan and the following issues:
        1. Preparation of a conservation plan for the entirety of property, which includes a condition survey and the identification of priority interventions to ensure stabilization of archaeological remains,
        2. Removal of inadequate new constructions and the creation of facilities to allow for religious uses in areas outside the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone;
      6. Welcomes the ‘Efficiency-Raising and Maintenance of the Groundwater Lowering’ project, but reiterates its request that the State Party undertake an analysis of ways to address the underlying causes of the rising water table and elaborate a project to address them, as well as mitigation measures for the archaeological remains once the water table has been lowered and stabilized;
      7. Also notes that the State Party has invited a technical Advisory mission to the property to provide advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies;
      8. Requests the State Party to submit a revised modification of the boundaries of both the property and buffer zone, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
      9. Also requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the proposed visitor centre, which has particular regard to potential impact on the OUV of the property, and is prepared in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties;
      10. Further requests the State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details for all other on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly those at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, and initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property prepared by the Ministry of Antiquities and the Abu Mena Monastery administration, for review prior to implementation;
      11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an 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;
      12. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
      Report year: 2017
      Egypt
      Date of Inscription: 1979
      Category: Cultural
      Criteria: (iv)
      Danger List (dates): 2001-present
      Documents examined by the Committee
      arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
      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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