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THURSDAY, September 29, 2022
Singapore Gardens join world heritage

Singapore Gardens join world heritage

FRIDAY, July 10, 2015
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Unesco adds 27 sites to its protection list, but warns its reach is limited

Singapore's Botanical Gardens and an extension to Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park are among 27 new sites added to Unesco’s World Heritage List. The list maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation was amended at its annual meeting last week in Bonn.
The Botanical Gardens become Singapore’s first World Heritage site, while the park in Vietnam, on the list in 2003, has now had its expansion included for protection and promotion by the world body.
They are among seven places in the Asia-Pacific region inscribed on the World Heritage List. The 27 sites worldwide include four related to industrial heritage and four “cultural landscapes”.
Jing Feng, head of the World Heritage Centre’s Asia and Pacific unit, points out that the increasing number of heritage sites puts the United Nations under greater pressure to oversee and support conservation efforts in the face of limited resources, reported Xinhua. 
It is considering tightening the quota to just 25 new sites per year, down from the current 45. “Countries should make sufficient comparative studies and nominate just the best of the best,” |Jing advises.
Unesco renewed its appeal for the protection of heritage sites against natural disaster and “intentional destruction”, especially in the Middle East, which it dubbed such wilful damage “war crimes”. Three sites in Yemen and Iraq were listed as “endangered world heritage” due to damage or threats from ongoing armed conflict.
Following are the newly listed sites in the Asia-Pacific region.
Set in the mountains of southwest China, the tribal domains known as Laosicheng, Tangya and Hailongtun Fortress have chiefs appointed by the central government as tusi, a term acknowledging their hereditary rule from the 13th to the early 20th centuries. Derived from a dynastic system that first arose in the third century, its aim is to maintain national unity while allowing the ethnic minorities to retain their own customs.
Eleven sites relating to the Meiji Industrial Revolution (mid-19th to early 20th centuries), mainly in the country’s southwest, were prominent in the production of coal, steel and ships. Feudal Japan tapped Western technology, the first time any non-Western country had done so, and adapted it to local needs and social traditions. 
“The Cultural Landscape of Maymand” describes a self-contained, semi-arid area in the central mountains where people raise livestock and live in seasonal settlements, including, during the winter, caves carved out of kamar rock. 
Susa in the southwestern Zagros Mountains encompasses archaeological mounds rising on the eastern side of the Shavur River and Ardeshir’s Palace on the opposite bank. Excavated architectural monuments include administrative, residential and royal structures. Susa comprises several layers of superimposed urban settlements rising continuously from the late fifth millennium to the 13th century, in turn bearing exceptional testament to Elamite, Persian and Parthian cultural traditions that have largely disappeared.
The Baekje Historic Areas in the mountainous midwest comprise eight archaeological sites dating from 475 to 660, including the Gongsanseong Fortress and royal tombs at Songsan-ri, both related to life in the capital, Ungjin (present-day Gongju); the Busosanseong Fortress and Gwanbuk-ri administrative buildings; the Naseong city wall that surrounded the capital Sabi (now Buyeo) during another era; the royal palace at Wanggung-ri; and the Mireuksa Temple in Iksan. Together these sites represent the later Baekje Kingdom, one of the three earliest on the Korean peninsula, which enjoyed considerable technological, Buddhist, cultural and artistic exchanges with kingdoms in China and Japan.
Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain – part of the sacred landscape in the northeast, central to the Khentii mountain chain – has long been adorned with ovoo (shamanic rock cairns), primarily because it is believed to be the place of Genghis Khan’s birth and burial. The site testifies to his efforts to establish mountain worship as an important part of the unification of the Mongol people. Ceremonies have for centuries been shaped by a fusion of ancient shamanic and Buddhist practices.
Situated in the heart of the city-state, the Gardens illustrate the evolution of the British tropical colonial botanic garden into a modern, world-class scientific institution used for both conservation and education. There is a rich variety of historic features, plantings and buildings dating back to its creation in 1859. It has been an important centre for research, notably in connection with the cultivation of rubber in Southeast Asia, since 1875.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park covered 85,754 hectares until this extension added land equivalent to 46 per cent of its original area, so that the site now covers 126,236 hectares. Abutting the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in Laos, the park boasts limestone plateaus, tropical forests and spectacular phenomena including caves and underground rivers. The high level of biodiversity with many endemic species is enhanced by the expansion, which also affords additional protection to the catchment areas safeguarding the geological landscape.