1.         Old Town of Lijiang (China) (C 811bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1997

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(v)

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/811/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1996-1996)
Total amount approved: USD 40,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/811/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; November 2008: UNESCO advisory mission. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Progressive loss of integrity and authenticity due to major tourism and commercial developments in and around the property

b) No clearly defined boundary or buffer zones

c) Lack of a comprehensive Conservation Master Plan for the property and its sourroundings

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/811/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 21 January 2011, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report to the World Heritage Centre. This report includes the proposal for boundary modification of the property as requested in Decision 32 COM 8B.53. In response to Decision 33 COM 7B.66 adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009), the State Party provided information on three main actions taken:

a) Completion of the comprehensive Conservation Master Plan (CMP)

The report traces the history of efforts to develop a Conservation Master Plan for the property back to 2002, including suspension of these efforts from 2003 to 2007 in order to permit development of an urban master plan for Lijiang. Upon reactivation of this process, a UNESCO advisory mission visited the Old Town of Lijiang in November 2008 and confirmed the findings of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of January 2008 that the property is currently witnessing progressive loss of integrity and authenticity due to new tourism and other commercial developments in and around the inscribed cluster sites of Dayan town, Shuhe housing cluster, and Baisha housing cluster. The advisory mission was impressed with the preparation of the Conservation Master Plan but noted that work was not yet complete and that new threats to the property’s integrity seemed to be emerging such as to the east between the existing built-up area of Dayan and the proposed railway station. Current efforts to complete the Conservation Master Plan have focused on redefining the boundaries of the three components of the Lijiang inscription (Dayan Old Town, Baisha and Shuhe and their respective buffer zones in order to be sure what territory the Conservation Master Plan covers). As a result of the various iterations developed and reviews at national level (State Administration of Cultural Heritage - SACH) and local level (Lijiang Peoples’ Government), definitive determinations of “property area” and “buffer zone” for all three components have been agreed. However the State Party does not provide information about the approach of the CMP to address the progressive loss of integrity.

As a part of providing a clear management focus for the CMP, the State Party has submitted to the World Heritage Centre, on 21 January 2011, a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (SOUV) of the property for review by the World Heritage Committee within the framework of the Periodic Reporting exercise for Asia and the Pacific region.

The State Party reports that the Conservation Master Plan for the property will be further developed and improved to reflect the protection for the extended buffer zone of Dayan and the larger buffer zones for Baisha and Shuhe.

b) Re-submission of a request for minor modification to the buffer zones and possibility of an extension of the boundaries of the property in order to protect the property and the area between its three components

Protection zone adjusted in January 2010 and modified in October 2010

In January 2010, China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) sent an expert panel to Lijiang to provide consultation on the modification to the protection zones. Following this initiative, a new proposal was submitted to SACH which subsequently put forward further modifications in September 2010.

In October 2010, the “Request for Defining the Protection Zone of the World Cultural Heritage Old Town of Lijiang” was approved by SACH and the Lijiang People’s Government. This proposal modified the protection zones of the Old Town of Lijiang, increasing the protected area of the 3 components from 125.7 hectares (January 2008) to 145.6 hectares (October 2010), and of the buffer zones from 323.3 hectares (January 2008) to 582.3 hectares (October 2010)

Although the information on boundary and buffer zones modification was provided in the State Party report, no original copy of the topographic map showing the property and its buffer zones was submitted.

Protection of the area between the three components of the property

The current Conservation Master Plan demarcates the entire Lijiang Bazi (terraces) between the property areas and buffer zones as an environmental co-ordination zone. It established strict requirements on new construction defining protective measures for natural environment features and the eco-systems in the area between the three components.

Strengthening the capacity of Lijiang Management Bureau to implement and co-ordinate planning initiatives

The State Party reports progress in strengthening the Lijiang Management Bureau in clarifying its role in enforcing the legal framework in place, building the protection and management system through its 8 functional departments, establishing scientific research and property development guidelines, including the Conservation Master Plan, development of an in-situ monitoring system for natural and cultural assets, digital systems for protection, measures for protection of traditional culture, publication of owner’s manuals for building protection and repair, and ongoing training and awareness building for heritage managers and others.

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the Conservation Master Plan is being developed and is nearing completion. The newly defined protection zones for the property and its setting, the proposal for boundary modification and the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value submitted, once adopted, will provide a basis for finalization of the Conservation Master Plan. With the technical requirements for the Conservation Master Plan in place, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies would like to see the provisions of the Conservation Master Plan addressing the threats to property’s integrity and authenticity previously identified, and the capacity of the Lijiang Heritage Management Bureau strengthened. They consider that the State Party should submit a formal request on the modification of boundaries of the property.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.63

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.66, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Notes with satisfaction the efforts of the State Party's national and local authorities to strengthen the protection of the property and its setting;

4. Welcomes the proposal for boundary modification to include protective buffer zones for Baisha and Shuhe cluster sites and to enlarge the buffer zone for Dayan town of the property and encourages the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a formal request for the modification of boundaries of the property and buffer zones with three copies of original topographic maps;

5. Requests the State Party to complete the Conservation Master Plan in order to address the threats to integrity and authenticity identified by the 2008 joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission and the 2008 UNESCO advisory mission, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre a synthesis in English, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

6. Also requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of any restoration or development projects planned at the property prior to their implementation, for examination by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a state of conservation report on the property and progress made in the completion and implementation of the Conservation Master Plan, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.