Why do we have to protect World Heritage Sites?
World’s cultural and natural heritages are increasingly threatened with destruction, not only from decay, but also by social and economic development, and protection of them at the national level is incomplete. World heritage sites are described by UNESCO as irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Because of their significance to the worlds cultural and natural heritage, it is important that we preserve the sites around the world that are considered to be of outstanding value of humanity. Without World heritage sites we lose our connection to the past and ancient human culture.
Every site tells an important story and is meant to benefit global community and future generations with continuous process of evolution. These stories have inspired many people to strengthen their commitment to fight for example against injustice. It would be unfair for the next generations if we destroy these sites and don’t take care of them, since they are meant for everyone. Heritage sites has also proven to be great for economics. Well preserved cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, therefore appears to be a precondition for quality tourism, which implies the satisfaction of the tourists, of the host population and of the tourist companies.
Is the protection visible?
The World Heritage Convention was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) General Conference in Paris on 16 November 1972. The Convention came into force in 1975. In August 1974, Australia became one of the first countries to ratify the Convention.
The World Heritage Convention aims to promote cooperation among nations to protect heritage around the world that is of such outstanding universal value that its conservation is important for current and future generations.
It is intended that, unlike the seven wonders of the ancient world, properties on the World Heritage List will be conserved for all time.
States that are parties to the Convention agree to identify, protect, conserve, and present World Heritage properties. States recognise that the identification and safeguarding of heritage located in their territory is primarily their responsibility. They agree to do all they can with their own resources to protect their World Heritage properties.
The visibility of the protection of Heritage Sites depends mostly on the countries. For example, Pamukkales travertine terraces which is located in Turkey, was heavily affected because of tourism. The whiteness of the terraces had begun to darken because the hotels were draining the thermal waters into their own swimming pools and caused damage to the terraces. Also tourists were allowed to get in the terraces. However now the hotels that were built in 1960’s are mostly demolished due to protection of the terraces and remaining of the hotels cannot use the thermal waters. Tourists are also not allowed to get in terraces anymore due to new regulations, they can only use the small pools.
Then there is also the impact of the natural phenomena and wars which affect also the Heritage Sites. For example, a pair of 6th century monumental statues known as the Buddhas of Bamiyan were dynamited by the Taliban in 2001, who had declared them heretical idols. Then The 7.8 Richter scale earthquake in 2015 demolished the heritage Dharahara situated at Kathmandu which was a main tourist attraction in Nepal. It also destroyed centuries old temples in the Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan Durbar Squares
To boost tourism, huge money is invested to preserve the local heritage, to improve infrastructure, to provide better local facilities which in turn creates better education, better leisure facilities, organizing frequent social events and thus a better lifestyle for the locale people. They interact with the tourists, mix with people from diverse backgrounds which creates a cosmopolitan culture in the region. Due to the demand for better services, varied employment opportunities are created within the region and therefore people do not feel the need to migrate to other cities to earn their living.
Any kind of development requires some interference with the nature. Overdevelopment comes at the cost of nature. There may be damage to the natural flora and fauna. Local people are displaced for want of coastal area development. With more people in the area, more natural resources are required which leads to depletion of natural resources. Waste disposal problems crop up and without proper measures to handle this problem it may worsen the situation. Due to more footfall, more transport, more noise, improper waste disposal, pollution increases in the area and disturbs the ecological balance of the region.
From a social-cultural perspective tourism affects cultural resources through changes in forms and functions of traditional artworks, commodification of living culture, crowded condition and community members. Tourist activities exact physical impacts on precious heritage in form of vandalism, wear, tear and pollutions. On a more positive note, tourism from the increasing number of people, helps in creating jobs and taxes and stimulates entrepreneurialism in heritage destinations
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