7 March 2008 An expert team from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today is recommending that a tunnel be constructed – and not a bridge, as currently planned – to preserve the World Heritage status of the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany.
Last month, the team of international experts visited the site, met the concerned parties and studied existing plans. It concluded that that a tunnel would have less of an impact on the Valley, which was put on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2004.
The experts’ recommendations are part of a report that the agency will send to German authorities and to the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee, who are scheduled in July in Québec, Canada, to assess Dresden’s plans.
Welcoming their proposals, UNESCO’s Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said that he trusts that “a constructive consultation will follow leading to the preservation of the cultural landscape of the Dresden Elbe Valley.”
At the Committee’s previous meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, last year, it decided “to delete the property from the World Heritage list […] in the event that the construction of the bridge has an irreversible impact on the outstanding universal value of the property.”
About 18 kilometres long, the Dresden Elbe Valley site was inscribed for its “outstanding cultural landscape,” which brings together a combination of baroque and other historic buildings and landscape features in and around the city of Dresden into a parkland setting along the river.
Only one other site has been de-listed since the World Heritage List, which features natural or cultural sites deemed to have outstanding universal value, began in 1978. That was the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary of Oman, which was removed in July this year because of the country’s failure to meet what the Committee said were its conservation obligations. In total, there are currently 851 sites on the World Heritage List.
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