I had wondered if there might be some interest/value in a "Connection" for "WHS without a Buffer Zone" so have been doing a bit of background investigation into just how many sites there might be in this state of "ungrace"!!
For many of the earlier years of the WHS scheme, properties were normally inscribed without "Buffer Zones" even though the Operational Guidelines (OG) referred to the concept. As time has progressed the OGs have been strengthened but still do not require that there be a Buffer Zone. However any nomination without one must state why one is not required. And, for some years, the vast majority of inscribed sites have included a Buffer Zone in their documentation.
Since these early years there has also been a significant retrospective catch-up by which many properties have acquired Buffer Zones which have been presented to the WHC. The initiative often arises where there has been a report on the state of conservation or a Reactive monitoring visit. Koln was something of a watershed as the lack of any Buffer Zone was blamed for the situation whereby the nearby tower blocks across the Rhine were able to be built – Germany provided a Buffer zone for the cathedral in 2008!
Indeed, most sites so requested seem to have complied with at least the "letter" of the request but there have been a few "causes celebres" where a States Party has tried to hold the line that no buffer zone is required – I think particularly of the Tower of London and Westminster and it was these I thought it might be interesting to highlight via a "Connection".
The existence of a UNESCO-recognised buffer zone is of course no guarantee that it will be properly maintained or that it will achieve the results hoped of it – high rise buildings well outside a buffer zone can be regarded as having worse impacts than developments inside the zone viz St Petersberg and Seville
One slight surprise which my researches have identified, has been that NONE of the US WHS has a buffer zone. The most recently inscribed (Papahanaumokuakea) was able, fairly easily, to argue that, as the inscribed area already covered vast areas of the ocean, nothing further was required. Interestingly, however, the withdrawn Mt Vernon nomination DID include a small buffer zone – but this was a bit suspect as it was really part of the property itself!! Nevertheless its existence was indicative of how much the nomination was trying stick to the rules despite the fact the US has great problems limiting activities outside National Parks/Monuments etc.
A problem I have discovered with having this "Connection" is that of the difficulty of "proving" a negative. The proposition would need to be expressed in positive terms "A site which lacks any evidence of a buffer zone in its documentation" and/or "A site whose documentation refers to the lack of a Buffer zone". Even this can prove difficult – Paris, for instance, is described in the 2006 Periodic Report as "Zone tampon : aucune zone tampon n'a été définie mais une proposition de zone tampon a été faite par l'Etat partie".
However, 6 years later, I can find absolutely NO evidence of any "zone tampon" having been officially defined!
One document ( http://whc.unesco.org/documents/publi_wh_papers_25.pdf
) unearthed by my researches which might be of general interest to Forum readers, is the report of an "International Expert Meeting on World Heritage and Buffer Zones"
which met in 2008 and whose recommendations were discussed at that year's WHC. I personally hadn't been aware of it and found the issues it discusses and the "history" on this subject contained within it, well worth reading. It also contains a number of examples of sites not having a(n Official UNESCO-recognised) buffer zone – though some of these (E.g Koln) are now out of date.
a. Kilwa Kisiwani
b. Wet Tropics of Queensland
c. L'Anse aux Meadows
d. Belovezhskaya Pushcha /Bialowieza Forest
g. Mammoth Cave
h. Missions of the Guaranies (??? Possibly)
i. Luang Prabang