Fuzhou For the third time in the history of the World Heritage Convention, it has lost the site of the most prestigious award: the port city of Liverpool. Australia plays poker at the Great Barrier Reef, which is threatened by climate change.
As a maritime trading city, Liverpool has been revoked by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The responsible committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Communication Organization (UNESCO) made the decision on Wednesday at its current 44th meeting in the Chinese city of Fuzhou. It is only the third time in the history of the 1972 World Heritage Convention that the title of a prestigious cultural or natural site has been withdrawn.
The commission sees the universal value of a coastal city that has been damaged by numerous construction projects. Six sites in the historic center and port district of Liverpool have been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 2004. They testify to the city’s development as one of the world’s most important trading centers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Liverpool has been a pioneer in the development of modern berth technology, transportation systems and port management. The city played a major role in the development of the British Empire.
However, its World Heritage status has been in jeopardy since 2012 “due to significant interventions” in the context of the Liverpool Waters construction project. In the end, Liverpool’s relinquishment of planning changes and new infrastructure projects in the historic port area as well as the already approved construction of the football stadium at Bramley Moore Dock led to the removal of the title, the United Nations announced. A UNESCO document says Liverpool has long lost the character that led to its designation as a World Heritage site.
Contrary to initial expectations, the Selous Game Reserve site in Tanzania, where a dam will be built, has not been revoked from its status as a World Heritage Site. However, it is still on the list of threatened sites. More recently, in 2009, the Dresden Elbe Valley lost its World Heritage title due to the construction of the Waldschlosschen Bridge. The first deletion occurred in 2007 for Oman due to the downsizing of the rare Arabian Oryx Wildlife Sanctuary.
Meanwhile, Australia is trying to delay the commission’s planned inclusion of the Great Barrier Reef, which is threatened by climate change, on its list of endangered natural sites in order to avoid damaging its image, at least for the time being. To delay Friday’s decision to 2023, Australia submitted an amendment supported by 12 of the committee’s 21 members. The vote is still pending. There can be changes too.
As a result of climate change, the Great Barrier Reef off the northeastern coast of Australia is threatened by warm waters and coral bleaching. The world’s largest coral reef stretches over 340,000 square kilometers and can be seen with the naked eye from space. UNESCO has urged Australia, the coal country, to take action against climate change. It is also about the quality of the water. The long-term prospects for natural wonders have evolved from “bad” to “very bad”.
The World Heritage Committee has also decided to remove Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the list of endangered sites because it is no longer threatened “thanks to successful protection measures”. Salonga is the largest protected area of tropical rainforest in Africa and home to many endangered species. Bonobos and forest elephants occur here as well as the Congo peacock.
Salonga has been on the Red List since 1999 due to poaching and oil extraction plans, among other things. However, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has pledged not to produce any oil in the region in the future. At the same time, the UNESCO committee calls for continued efforts to combat poaching, to ensure better monitoring, and for the local population to participate more closely in management.
The World Heritage Committee will meet online and on site until July 31. It is made up of 21 elected signatories to the World Heritage Convention. As a rule, it annually decides on the inclusion of new cultural and natural sites in the World Heritage List and deals with the status of the inscribed sites. Due to the pandemic, the conference was postponed last year. The World Heritage List currently includes 1,120 cultural and natural sites in 167 countries. 51 of them are considered threatened. Germany has 46 World Heritage sites.
Of the approximately 40 nominations for new World Heritage Sites at the conference, five are applications with German participation: the Mathildenhöhe Artists’ Colony in Darmstadt, Jewish Cultural Heritage in Mainz, Speyer and Worms, the spas in Baden-Baden, Bad Ems and Bad Kissingen as part of the Important historical baths in Europe as well as the Roman ramparts bordering the Danube River Limes and Lower Germany Limes. These requests will be discussed starting next weekend.
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