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Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra

Albania
Factors affecting the property in 2009*
  • Housing
  • Illegal activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    a) Fire; b) Lack of specific monitoring indicator; c) Lack of adequate firefighting arrangements in the historic urban zone; d) Lack of a programme of archaeological excavation

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Threats mentioned in the ICOMOS evaluation report at the time of inscription:

a) Illegal construction dating from the late 1990s

b) Lack of specific monitoring indicators

c) Lack of a programme of archaeological excavations

d) Lack of adequate firefighting arrangements in the historic urban zone

e) Lack of a detailled tourist development plan

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2009

Total amount provided to the property: USD 1,367,014 is provided by the Albanian Government under the framework of the project 933 ALB 4000 “Safeguard and restoration of selected monuments within the World Heritage site of the Old City of Gjirokaster – Albania

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2009
Requests approved: 2 (from 2002-2007)
Total amount approved : 44,964 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

In its evaluation of the nomination for Berat as an extension to Girokastra, ICOMOS noted that ‘this damaging phenomenon [of illegal constructions] has been practically stopped and is under control. It would be important for the State Party to ensure that these unauthorised constructions should be identified, and penalties imposed, and that a return to this type of practice is made impossible. A map identifying the constructions concerned has been announced and tighter monitoring ensuring that future actions of this type are prevented. ICOMOS considers that it is indeed essential to precisely identify the illegal constructions through an inventory and plans, and to absolutely prevent the return to such practices, which took place at a particular period of Albanian history. ICOMOS also considers that it is necessary to draw up a long-term plan to remove the illegal constructions, in order to improve the values and integrity of the property.

ICOMOS recommended that the nomination be referred back to the State Party in order to allow it to provide details of the structure for the coordination of the management plan for the two towns, in accordance with Paragraph 114 of the Operational Guidelines, and guarantee its setting up, its competencies, as well as addressing the need for an inventory of illegal constructions, monitoring indicators, fire fighting arrangements and responsive archaeological investigations.

The World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to submit a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2009 on the implementation of a number of measures.

Meanwhile the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS have been made aware of further illegal constructions, particularly in a prominent area of the buffer zone for Berat.

 

On 1 February 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report presents in some detail alterations and constructions carried out illegally within the two towns, inadequacies of the fire fighting arrangements, but does not address all the concerns of the World Heritage Committee.

 

a) Illegal constructions

The report provides an inventory of building violations in both Gorokastra and Berat.  According to the data on the infringements of the law on Protection of the Cultural Inheritance, there are 40 violations in Berat and 245 in Gjirokastra. These include new buildings and amendments to existing buildings. Some of these infringements have a greater impact than others: for instance new buildings and changes in materials, such as the use of concrete, have a greater impact than interior alterations. Similarly some changes are reversible, such as a change in roof covering, while others are not. The reason why the infringements are much greater Gjirokastra is explained by the lack of possibilities for expanding the city apart from within the protected zone, while in Berat these possibilities exist. In response to these threats, it is stated that therevision of the law on the protection of the monuments will be amended to be more appropriate to allow improvements to living conditions which respect value, in conformity with the international standards in this field.  With regard to the infringements, it is stated that it will be necessary to demolish certain illegal constructions and to amend or reverse certain modifications. These decisions will be preceded by professional evaluations and authorizations by the relevant authorities. However, no action plan or timescale is provided for these processes. Although at the time Berat was inscribed as an extension of Girokastra, it was stated that illegal constructions had taken place, particularly in the buffer zone, but that this had practically been stopped and measures were in place to ensure that the lack of control did not persist. However comparatively large-scale new houses are continuing to be constructed in the buffer zone on a hill opposite the castle gate, and these constructions are highly visible from within the old town.

 

b) Monitoring indicators

The report states that monitoring indicators which reflect the way the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is being sustained would bethe number of the monuments restored each year and the annual funds put towards this process. It is suggested that these would be monitored every three years. Given the problems of illegal construction outlined above, it is clear that more detailed indicators need to be established to monitor changes in the overall urban fabric of vernacular buildings, not just the main monuments, as these are part of the justification for inscription. It is suggested that the main attributes of the two towns that reflect Outstanding Universal Value should be indicated and monitoring indicators developed to monitor these which should include, streetscapes and views.

 

c) Archaeological excavations

The report states that the Institute of Archaeology does not envisage excavations in the two castles of the two towns in the five next years. However, the Institute of Monuments (IMK) will carry archaeological surveys out as part of restoration and conservation work by specialists qualified in this field. The report also states that IMK, will insist that the Institute of Archaeology should carry out excavations in the two castles in order to precisely determine the phases of construction of these fortifications. It should be clarified that major excavations are not being requested but rather a programme to allow archaeological intervention when any development of major restoration is undertaken.

 

d) Fire Fighting

Fire-protection is problematic in both Gjirokastra and Berat because of difficult access for fire fighters. The most serious situation exists in the districts Mangalem, Gorice and part of the Kala in Berat where the movement of the firemen is almost impossible. The municipality of Berat has defined a project for installing a hydrant network in the problematic districts like Mangalem and Gorice; however, the cost of such a project in the Mangalem district would be approximately 61,680 Euros, and in Gorice 43,250 Euros. Gjirokastra has a fire station with qualified personnel, vehicles and equipment as well as five water hydrants. In July 2008, the Town Council agreed to improve collaboration between the regional institutions for water and fire prevention to allow the construction of new hydrants. The Municipality of Gjirokastra does not have an overall plan for the protection of the historic town. The World Bank has financed preparations towards the development of such a long-term plan.

 

e) Tourism Development Plan

Although considerable details are provided on the number of tourists, the increase due to inscription, the effect on the two towns in terms of changes of use (hotels and guesthouses), promotion and the aim to quadruple the number of tourists by 2014, (from 20 to 80 thousand), there are no details of a coordinated tourism strategy, not any mention of the management plan.

In view of the difficulties of controlling development in the two towns, a coordinated cultural tourism development plan that puts in places strategies for sustainable growth in tourism numbers and plans facilities that respect the value of the property is essential in order to avoid any negative impact of tourism and could balance between benefits and disbenefits to the local community. The improvement in visitor services should be strictly assessed within the framework of the management plan.

 

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies acknowledge progress with the development of an inventory of planning violations but is concerned at the lack of an agreed action plan and timescale to address these and the fact that planning violations are continuing to occur in a prominent part of the buffer zone in Berat opposite the castle gates and as well as in Old Bazaar area of the World Heritage of Gjirokastra. There is also a need to develop monitoring indicators that fully reflect the attributes of the two towns that carry Outstanding Universal Value and which could help address these planning violations.

Although the vulnerabilities of the fire protection are acknowledged, there is concern at the lack of an overall agreed fire response plan for the overall property. In the light of the ambitious targets for tourism development, there is great concern about the lack of an overall tourism development plan within the framework of the management plan for the serial property.

 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2009
33 COM 7B.87
HistoricCentres of Berat and Gjirokastra (Albania) (C 569 bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 8B.56, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Urges the State Party to fully comply with the requests of the World Heritage Committee;

4. Acknowledges progress made with the development of an inventory of planning violations;

5. Expresses its concern that violations are continuing to occur in a prominent part of the buffer zone in Berat opposite the castle gates, as well as in Old Bazaar area of Gjirokastra;

6. Also urges the State Party to put in place an agreed action plan and timescale to address these violations and to stop further violations;

7. Requess the State Party to put in place more detailed and appropriate monitoring indicators related to the attributes that carry the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

8. Also acknowledges some progress in planning better provision of water hydrants, to enhance fire protection, but expresses concern at the lack of an overall agreed fire response plan for the property and encourages the State Party to address this issue as a matter of urgency;

9. Expresses its great concern, in view of the ambitious targets for the tourism industry, that there is a lack of an overall tourism development plan that would aim to reconcile the benefits and dis-benefits of tourism for local communities within the framework of the management plan and also requests the State Party to address this issue;

10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a progress report on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.

Draft Decision: 33 COM 7B.87

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 8B.56, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Urges the State Party to fully comply with the requests of the World Heritage Committee;

4. Acknowledges progress made with the development of an inventory of planning violations;

5. Expresses its concern that violations are continuing to occur in a prominent part of the buffer zone in Berat opposite the castle gates, as well as in Old Bazaar area of Gjirokastra;

6. Also urges the State Party to put in place an agreed action plan and timescale to address these violations and to stop further violations;

7. Requeststhe State Party to put in place more detailed and appropriate monitoring indicators related to the attributes that carry the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

8. Also acknowledges some progress in planning better provision of water hydrants, to enhance fire protection, but expresses concern at the lack of an overall agreed fire response plan for the property and encourages the State Party to address this issue as a matter of urgency;

9. Expresses its great concern, in view of the ambitious targets for the tourism industry, that there is a lack of an overall tourism development plan that would aim to reconcile the benefits and disbenefits of tourism for local communities within the framework of the management plan and also requests the State Party to address this issue;

10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a progress report on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.

Report year: 2009
Albania
Date of Inscription: 2005
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 33COM (2009)
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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