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UNESCO names 16 World Heritage sites, removes Dresden

Sites added to the World Heritage List in Europe included Britain's Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in northeastern Wales, which the UN agency called "a feat of civil engineering of the Industrial Revolution."
by Staff Writers
Madrid (AFP) June 28, 2009
Locations from the ancient city of Caral-Supe in Peru to China's sacred Buddhist mountain of Wutai were among 16 that have been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List, while a German area was removed.

The 16 sites, with half located in Europe, were named at UNESCO's World Heritage Committee meeting in Seville, Spain, the UN agency announced Sunday.

All the committee's choices however were not cause for celebration. It decided to drop Germany's Dresden Elbe Valley from the list because of the construction of a bridge there.

It had been a World Heritage Site since 2004 and was listed in part because the valley "has been the crossroads in Europe, in culture, science and technology," UNESCO's website says.

Dresden was only the second property ever removed from the World Heritage List, UNESCO said, after Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in 2007 was dropped because it reduced the size of the protected area by 90 percent.

Nearly 900 sites now form the World Heritage List, which is meant to signal "outstanding universal value."

The committee examined 27 potential sites at its meeting this week, while three locations were placed on the so-called danger list.

They included Belize's Barrier Reef Reserve System, in part due to excessive development, and Colombia's Los Katios National Park, threatened by deforestation.

Colombia had requested that the site be placed on the danger list to mobilise support for it, according to UNESCO.

The Historical Monuments of Mtskheta in Georgia were listed as in danger due to concerns over their preservation.

Sites added to the World Heritage List in Europe included Britain's Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in northeastern Wales, which the UN agency called "a feat of civil engineering of the Industrial Revolution."

France's Great Saltworks of Salins-les-Bains has been added as an extension to another site inscribed in 1982. Brine has been extracted from the area since the Middle Ages, "if not earlier," UNESCO said.

The Wadden Sea in Germany and the Netherlands was listed, with what UNESCO described as "one of the last remaining natural, large-scale, intertidal ecosystems where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed."

The Dolomites in the Italian Alps -- "some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere," according to UNESCO -- became part of the list, as did Stoclet House in Belgium.

The Belgian house's architecture "marked a turning point in Art Nouveau," it said.

Others in Europe included The Tower of Hercules in Spain, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle watchmaking towns in Switzerland and Slovakia's Levoca, with a historic town centre.

The site honoured in the Middle East was Iran's hydraulic system at Shushtar, with the organisation calling it "a masterpiece of creative genius... traced back to Darius the Great in the 5th century BC."

Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Kyrgyzstan saw sites listed for the first time.

Kyrgyzstan's Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain, Burkina Faso's Ruins of Loropeni and Cape Verde's Cidade Velha were all inscribed.

Other Asian sites were The Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in the Philippines, inscribed as an extension to a site listed in 1993.

In the Americas, the Sacred City of Caral-Supe in Peru was added as the oldest centre of civilization in the Americas.

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