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Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas)

Jordan
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Threats identified at the time of inscription of the property in 2015:
  • Lack of integration of the management procedures on maintenance, visitor management and disaster response in the management system
  • Lack of design and construction guidelines for the Churches to be constructed in the buffer zone
  • Need to ensure the protection of the western banks of the Jordan River to preserve important vistas and sightlines of the property
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 25 October 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1446/documents/, informing that the changes required by the Committee’s decision had been included in a revised nomination dossier and management plan.  These documents were provided, along with a copy of the construction activity moratorium.

In particular, the management plan now incorporates provisions for maintenance (Implementation Guidance for Maintenance), visitor management (Sustainable Tourism and Visitor Management) and disaster response, as well as guidelines for churches that might be constructed in the buffer zone.

Overall, the management plan presents information about the identification and description of the property, an assessment and analysis of values, the existing and previous site conservation and interpretation works, the tourism and management context. It provides policies and objectives related to site conservation, maintenance, interpretation and presentation, tourism and visitor management as well as site management, details about future strategies, actions and guidance about monitoring.

Maintenance and visitor management are addressed at both the policy and objective levels, as well as in future strategies and actions.  The section on maintenance included within future strategies and actions reflects a structured approach, includes key actions, responsibility, and frequency of maintenance.  The disaster response text identifies the main and other threats to the property, and measures to prevent or respond to disasters.  The guidelines for church construction in the buffer zone are part of future strategies and actions.

On 21 August 2016, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre by letter that high electricity towers with a negative visual impact had been built on the other side of the Jordan River.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The reported progress by the State Party on the development of the management plan is acknowledged, which includes all of the recommended components, these being management procedures on maintenance, visitor management and disaster response.

The policy and objectives text regarding maintenance is relatively short but adequate, while the text included within future strategies actions is more detailed. Overall, the guidance provided on maintenance appears to be adequate.

In the case of visitor management, the policy and objectives text is also brief, and while it suggests areas for policy development, these are not actually provided in this section.  On the other hand, the text within future strategies and actions is again more detailed providing both some policy framework as well as specific visitor management actions.  This guidance also appears adequate.

The disaster response text is generally adequate except in the case of earthquake response, which only refers to who issues orders but not what actions will protect the property.

The management plan also includes the recommended design and construction guidelines for Churches, which are to be constructed in the buffer zone.  While brief, they provide a framework of guidance for future Church construction. The guidelines do not address a range of possible issues, such as the height of new constructions, visibility from the property, colours to be used or avoided (although the guidelines indicate that visual pollution is not acceptable, and also the need for harmonizing with the setting), as well as overall masterplanning for the buffer zone to manage developments in the landscape.  

The implementation of the guidelines should be finalized in close cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS in future reviews of the management plan; the State Party needs to submit all construction projects to the World Heritage Centre for review, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.79
Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas) (Jordan) (C 1446)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 8B.10 and 40 COM 8B.50, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively;
  3. Commends the State Party on the revisions of the management plan in response to the Committee’s recommendations;
  4. Requests the State Party to supplement the disaster response guidance in the management plan regarding earthquakes, in particular to address specific response actions to protect the property in the event of an earthquake;
  5. Also requests the State Party to consider supplementing the design and construction guidelines for the Churches which are to be constructed in the buffer zone to address construction regulations, visual impact, as well as the need for overall master planning for the buffer zone to manage developments in the landscape, and to submit all construction projects to the World Heritage Centre for review, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Reiterates the need to ensure the protection of the western banks of the Jordan River to preserve important vistas and sightlines of the property;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 43rd session in 2019.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.79

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 8B.10 and 40 COM 8B.50, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively;
  3. Commends the State Party on the revisions of the management plan in response to the Committee’s recommendations;
  4. Requests the State Party to supplement the disaster response guidance in the management plan regarding earthquakes, in particular to address specific response actions to protect the property in the event of an earthquake;
  5. Also requests the State Party to consider supplementing the design and construction guidelines for the Churches which are to be constructed in the buffer zone to address construction regulations, visual impact, as well as the need for overall master planning for the buffer zone to manage developments in the landscape, and to submit all construction projects to the World Heritage Centre for review, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Reiterates the need to ensure the protection of the western banks of the Jordan River to preserve important vistas and sightlines of the property;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 43rd session in 2019.
Report year: 2017
Jordan
Date of Inscription: 2015
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2016) .pdf
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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