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Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor

China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Comparative fragility of many sites

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Management systems/management plan (Need to implement the timetables for developing detailed management plans; Need for strategies for conservation of component sites; Need for visitor management strategies, including interpretation)
  • Impacts of tourism/visitor/recreation
  • Urban development (Comparative fragility of many sites)
  • Ground transport infrastructure (Proposals for a major road and bridge directly across the Talgar component site in Kazakhstan)
  • Housing (Residential development in the buffer zone, near the Talgar Citadel in Kazakhstan)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

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)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**

March 2016: ICOMOS Advisory mission to the Talgar component site in Kazakhstan; November 2016 : joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to eight component sites of the serial property in Kazakhstan (Talgar, Kayalyk, Karamergen, Aktobe, Kulan, Kostobe, Ornek sites and the Akyrtas archaeological complex)

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 20 November 2017, the State Party of China submitted a state of conservation report. On 30 November 2017, the State Party of Kazakhstan submitted documentation on progress with the Management Plans for all eight component sites of the serial property located in Kazakhstan, along with two new options for an alternative road design, outside of the territory of the Talgar component site. A state of conservation report was submitted by Kazakhstan on 31 January 2018. Both States Parties’ reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/documents and address the Committee’s requests as follows:

  • The ICOMOS International Conservation Center in Xi’an, China (IICC-X), as the Secretariat of the Silk Roads Coordination Committee and the coordinating body of the Silk Roads World Heritage property, introduced the Silk Roads Archives Information Management System (AIMS), set up the database of international experts, strengthened the training and cooperation project, developed academic exchange, explored the international technical advice and assistance mechanisms, and cooperated on archaeological projects in Central Asia. The State Party of China, through the China State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) and IICC-X, actively carried out research, conservation and management activities for the Silk Roads, both in China and in Central Asia. They explored the integrated conservation and rational utilization of cultural routes and actively shared case studies through a variety of platforms (e.g. AIMS) for discussion among member countries. Through AIMS, newsletters, expert visits, academic conferences and other activities organized by SACH and IICC-X, cooperation and communication among countries along the Silk Roads was strengthened. On 18-23 December 2017, Chinese and Kazakh representatives and experts worked in the component sites of Kazakhstan to enhance the communication and coordination mechanism between the two States Parties;
  • The State Party of China reported that, besides ensuring the appropriate conservation and management, it continues to promote interpretation projects at its 22 components sites, notably by carrying out public education activities, enhancing the understanding of how the component sites in China relate to the overall Chang’an-Tianshan corridor and to the wider Silk Roads network. Activities involving stakeholders, including local communities, are reinforced and ensure their participation in heritage management and conservation. New technologies are used for daily monitoring in order to optimize data collection and strengthen research;
  • SACH has been strengthening investigations and research on Beacon Towers along the Tianshan Corridor, with a view to possibly incorporating several well-preserved beacon towers into the heritage conservation area by means of a minor boundary modification;
  • The Kazakh authorities and local government have initiated and proceeded with the preparation of management plans for all eight component sites of the serial property in Kazakhstan (Aktobe (Stepninskoye), Akyrtas, Karamergen, Kayalyk, Kostobe, Kulan, Ornek, Talgar);
  • The Talgar site management has been transferred to the State Historical and Cultural Conservancy Museum "Issyk". A Master Plan is being developed for Talgar that will define protected and development zones and their uses. The State Party of Kazakhstan notes that the area for the Talgar component site in the nomination dossier was erroneous at 55.7ha and that it should only cover 20.8ha. Although housing built illegally within the component site will be demolished, the wider protected zone appears to allow the construction of roads and residential buildings that do not ‘violate the historic environment’;
  • Within the Talgar Master Plan, two alternative routes for the Birlik-Akbulak highway that are said to bypass all protected zones (both cultural and natural) have been considered. Both start from the already-constructed road, and the preferred option will involve the demolition of buildings in recreation and settlement zones along with the construction of a new bridge over the Talgar river;
  • The State Party of Kazakhstan indicates that five component sites (Ornek, Akyrtas, Kostobe, Aktobe, Kulan) are to be given the status of ‘Memorial Site of History and Culture’ under the State Register of Kazakhstan, in line with the boundaries of the component sites and their buffer zones. Two other component sites (Kayalyk, Karamergen) will be included in 2018;
  • Due to difficulties in protecting the component sites of Akyrtas, Kostobe, Kulan and Ornek, a Commission involving state, regional and local representatives, including mayors, was set up and agreed on the following:
    • Akyrtas: expand the buffer zone and close roads through the area of the memorial site;
    • Kostobe: exclude the cemetery from the protected areas, in line with the mission’s recommendations; expand the buffer zone; ensure that all projects in the component site and buffer zone are approved by the state-authorised body at national level;
    • Ornek, Aktobe, Kulan: request local executive bodies to temporarily suspend issuing permissions for utilities, construction works, and other excavation activities until the memorial sites are approved;
  • Concerning road improvements, the State Party of Kazakhstan provided the following details:
    • Kostobe: a gravel road leading to the monument has been constructed to the south side of the Bayzak village;
    • Kayalyk: plans have been prepared to allow the road “A-3” (Ust-Kamenogorsk-Almaty), to bypass Koilyk village. It will run along the north side of the buffer zone and archaeological investigations have been undertaken;
    • Akyrtas: an asphalt road leading to the visitor centre has been constructed; its impact will be assessed and measures developed to reduce the negative impact.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

As the detailed reports provided independently by the States Parties of China and Kazakhstan relate to a single, serial transnational property, it would have been preferable that all three States Parties submit one joint state of conservation report.

Considerable progress has been made with interpretation, stakeholder involvement and monitoring along Silk Roads in China, notably through public education activities to better understand how the component sites in China relate to the overall Chang’an-Tianshan corridor and the wider Silk Roads network. Extensive research, conservation and management efforts have been made at the components in China. It is also noted that the State Party of China is actively exploring ways to enhance communication and coordination mechanisms among the three States Parties. The project ‘Study and Conservation of Beacon Towers in China’, which aims to possibly incorporate several valuable and well-preserved beacon towers into the heritage conservation area by means of a minor boundary modification, appears promising.

It is noted with appreciation that the State Party of Kazakhstan has started preparing Management Plans for all its component sites and their landscape settings, in order to address governance issues at both the national and local levels and to ensure adequate planning and effective management.

The assurances made by the State Party of Kazakhstan regarding road projects are welcome: details were provided on ongoing projects at Kayalyk, Akyrtas and Kostobe and the necessary impact assessments will be carried out, or mitigation measures developed to reduce any negative impact.

Proposals for a bypass route at Talgar, located outside of all protected zones, are noted. The preferred option, which passes outside the buffer zone, would entail the demolition of residential and public buildings and the construction of a new bridge across the river. Before any further plans or commitments are made, and before any work is undertaken, more detailed plans of these proposals, showing the precise route of the road, the location of the new bridge and any areas which are to fulfil the functions of demolished buildings, need to be provided to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, preferably in one of the two working languages of the Committee (i.e. English or French). Details also need to be provided on the work undertaken to dismantle the partially-constructed bridge built in 2016 across the Talgar River, the dismantling of which was requested by the Committee in Decision 40 COM 7B.34. Information is also still awaited on mitigation measures to address reconstruction work and illegal, uncontrolled residential developments near the boundaries of the Talgar site, and on measures to urgently strengthen the overall legal, planning and management frameworks of the component site and its setting.

The decision to close all existing roads through the component site of Kostobe should be commended, with the existing gravel road being used for local access only. As the overall plans involve the creation of a service zone and parking area, the State Party should be requested to submit these together with a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA).

At the Kayalyk component, the A3 Ust-Kamenogorsk-Almaty highway was initially due to pass along the south-eastern border of the site and through the buffer zone, which posed a significant threat to the property. Revised plans have now been prepared to allow this strategic road to bypass the component site and Koilyk village, with a route along the north-west side of the buffer zone. However, it is noted that the north-west boundary of the buffer zone appears to coincide with the line of the new road. In order to adequately protect the site, the alignment should be adjusted to avoid the buffer zone entirely.

At the Akyrtas component site, minimal details have been provided on the asphalt road leading to the visitor centre, started in 2017. In line with its commitments, the State Party should be requested to provide further details and analysis of impact in an HIA.

Finally, it is recommended that the Committee encourage all three States Parties to make full use of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee (ICC), established prior to inscription, to better coordinate the protection and management of the serial property, and notably of the ICC’s Secretariat based at ICOMOS International Conservation Centre-Xi’an (China).

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.5
Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an – Tian-shan Corridor (China / Kazakhstan / Kyrgyzstan) (C 1442)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7B.34 and 41 COM 7B.88, adopted at its 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the two detailed reports submitted by the State Parties of China and Kazakhstan addressing the requests made by the Committee in the aforementioned decisions, but strongly encourages all three States Parties involved in this serial transnational property to submit a joint report in the future;
  4. Commends the State Party of China for:
    1. the ongoing work on interpretation, stakeholder involvement and monitoring along the Chinese components of the serial property, and notably the public education activities,
    2. its extensive research, conservation and management activities, along with its efforts to enhance communication and coordination mechanisms among the three States Parties,
    3. the project ‘Study and Conservation of Beacon Towers in China’, which looks at the possibility of incorporating several valuable and well-preserved beacon towers into the heritage conservation area by means of a minor boundary modification;
  5. Also welcomes the assurances made by the State Party of Kazakhstan that the necessary impact assessments for road construction projects will be carried out and that mitigation measures will be developed to reduce any negative impacts;
  6. Notes the decisions to re-route the Birlik-Akbulak highway outside all protective zones at the Talgar component site, to close all existing roads through the component site of Kostobe, and to divert the A3 Ust-Kamenogorsk-Almaty highway to the edge of the buffer zone at the Kayalyk component site; and requests the State Party of Kazakhstan to provide the following to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any further plans or commitments are made and before any work is undertaken:
    1. Details of the preferred option for the Talgar bypass road, showing the precise route and the location of the new bridge, as well as any areas which are to fulfil the functions of demolished buildings, accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA),
    2. Details of the overall road closure plans for Kostobe including the creation of a service zone and parking together with an appropriate HIA,
    3. Details of an adjusted route for the A3 Ust-Kamenogorsk-Almaty that avoids the buffer zone of Kayalyk component site entirely, together with an HIA,
    4. Details of the new road to the visitor centre at Akyrtas;
  7. Reiterates its requests to the State Party of Kazakhstan to provide details on:
    1. the dismantling of the partially constructed bridge adjacent to the Talgar component site,
    2. mitigation measures to address reconstruction work and illegal, uncontrolled residential developments near the boundaries of the Talgar component site,
    3. measures to strengthen the legal, planning and management frameworks of the Talgar component site and its setting;
  8. Further welcomes the ongoing process of preparing Management Plans for all component sites in Kazakhstan and their landscape settings, and also reiterates its request that these be finalized as a matter of priority, taking into consideration the outcomes of the November 2016 mission, and submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, by 1 December 2018 at the latest;
  9. Also strongly encourages the three States Parties to make full use of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee (ICC), established prior to the inscription to better coordinate the protection and management of the serial transnational property, and notably of its Secretariat based at the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre in Xi’an (China);
  10. Finally requests the three States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7B.5

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7B.34 and 41 COM 7B.88, adopted at its 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the two detailed reports submitted by the State Parties of China and Kazakhstan addressing the requests made by the Committee in the aforementioned decisions, but strongly encourages all three States Parties involved in this serial transnational property to submit a joint report in the future;
  4. Commends the State Party of China for:
    1. the ongoing work on interpretation, stakeholder involvement and monitoring along the Chinese components of the serial property, and notably the public education activities,
    2. its extensive research, conservation and management activities, along with its efforts to enhance communication and coordination mechanisms among the three States Parties,
    3. the project ‘Study and Conservation of Beacon Towers in China’, which looks at the possibility of incorporating several valuable and well-preserved beacon towers into the heritage conservation area by means of a minor boundary modification;
  5. Also welcomes the assurances made by the State Party of Kazakhstan that the necessary impact assessments for road construction projects will be carried out and that mitigation measures will be developed to reduce any negative impacts;.
  6. Notes the decisions to re-route the Birlik-Akbulak highway outside all protective zones at the Talgar component site, to close all existing roads through the component site of Kostobe, and to divert the A3 Ust-Kamenogorsk-Almaty highway to the edge of the buffer zone at the Kayalyk component site; and requests the State Party of Kazakhstan to provide the following to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any further plans or commitments are made and before any work is undertaken:
    1. Details of the preferred option for the Talgar bypass road, showing the precise route and the location of the new bridge, as well as any areas which are to fulfil the functions of demolished buildings, accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA),
    2. Details of the overall road closure plans for Kostobe including the creation of a service zone and parking together with an appropriate HIA,
    3. Details of an adjusted route for the A3 Ust-Kamenogorsk-Almaty that avoids the buffer zone of Kayalyk component site entirely, together with an HIA,
    4. Details of the new road to the visitor centre at Akyrtas;
  7. Reiterates its requests to the State Party of Kazakhstan to provide details on:
    1. the dismantling of the partially constructed bridge adjacent to the Talgar component site,
    2. mitigation measures to address reconstruction work and illegal, uncontrolled residential developments near the boundaries of the Talgar component site,
    3. measures to strengthen the legal, planning and management frameworks of the Talgar component site and its setting;
  8. Further welcomes the ongoing process of preparing Management Plans for all component sites in Kazakhstan and their landscape settings, and also reiterates its request that these be finalized as a matter of priority, taking into consideration the outcomes of the November 2016 mission, and submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, by 1 December 2018 at the latest;
  9. Also strongly encourages the three States Parties to make full use of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee (ICC), established prior to the inscription to better coordinate the protection and management of the serial transnational property, and notably of its Secretariat based at the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre in Xi’an (China);
  10. Finally requests the three States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Report year: 2018
China Kyrgyzstan Kazakhstan
Date of Inscription: 2014
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(v)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
Report (2017) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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