Blog Connections

Diluted by an Extension

In his recent review of the Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines, Nan openly wondered how the (below average) Bochnia ended up with (in his opinion, the most unique site of Poland) Wieliczka. He concludes “Frankly,  the extension was an error as it dilutes the OUV.” Jonathan had sent me a whole bunch of similar questionable extensions already a while ago, but I left them in my mailbox to further ponder the subject. At what point does an extension actually make a WHS worse? I guess there are at least two ways an extension can "dilute" the original WHS: by devaluating its overall OUV, or by pushing the original, iconic site into the background.

Those that brought the average quality down

Several extensions brought the overall quality of the WHS down or did not show clear OUV on their own. This issue mostly seems to have occurred when a single, outstanding monument was extended with one or more others (in a move away from the “monument” thinking of the early years). Whether the extension did not add anything is up for debate of course. I checked the reviews of the extended WHS to see where our reviewers stand on this. The most prominent ones are:

Those that pushed the original into the background

Some extensions were so drastic that the name of the property inscribed first has disappeared from the current full site name. All can be found in the footnotes of the WHS list at the official UNESCO website, but a few notable examples are:

Looking forward: extensions on the Tentative Lists

No less than 60 possible extensions are still waiting on the respective Tentative Lists. We have brought them together in this connection. As I wrote in my review of Kazanlak, its extension with the royal necropolis of Seuthopolis would make it stronger. The same may count for Christiansfeld, as on its own it is a minor site and could improve from a wider context of Moravian sites.

Looking at the others, the extensions will add more of the same to the originals. There aren’t many major WHS among the ones to be extended, however, why would Carcassonne need to be paired up with some minor mountain castles? And would Cat Ba only be added to Ha Long Bay to spread the tourists around? 

Do you know of any other debatable extensions, in the past or future?

Els - 31 October 2021

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Squiffy 31 October 2021

I haven't visited all the component parts, but the range of Belfries in Belgium I have seen represent the liberties and rights of prosperous mercantile cities at their apogee in the middle ages. The site was then extended to France and the two belfries I'm familiar with there (Lille and Loos) date from within the last 150 years. Not the same vibe, I'm afraid.

Maltese Temples absolutely works for me. Hadrian's Wall into Frontiers of the Roman Empire does not (nor can I understand how the German section is, apparently, more akin to the British one than to two other German sections in separate sites).

Sonian Forest in Belgium contains five separate sections of Beech Forests where 'primeval' apparently only means 'not actively managed for a couple of hundred years'. Two sections are only 'untouched' because the major road that separates them has been excised from the inscribed area.

carlosarion 31 October 2021

As for New Zealand, I do not think that the incorporation of Fiordland National Park with other national parks to form Te Wahipounamu "diluted" it, unless what you really meant by "dilution" is taking the focus away from the original inscribed property (though it's pretty clear that you were referring to "devaluating its overall OUV". If anything else, the incorporation further strengthened its OUV--so strong that individual parks would be able to exhibit OUV if each park were to be nominated.

Te Wahipounamu is good as it is, even if I wished the individual parks were separated.

Matejicek 31 October 2021

There should still be a bit of science in the extension and the OUV should be the key parameter, and not what somebody likes/dislikes. It was already a topic in the Forum: how many Parises we have? But OK, Plečnik has been assigned as timeless, human-centered, thus can be added to any cultural WHS :))
On the other hand, too much science, as seen on the Germany approach with Bauhaus, can lead to dilution.

Nan 31 October 2021

My review triggering a blog post :) Yippee!

Loire Valley was extended twice. And the 2nd extension (Chenonceaux) certainly makes sense and has OUV on its own. And seeing you can (and I did) walk to Amboise (which the French kings and queens certainly did via horses), I think it's fine to have a cultural landscape.

Limes, enough said. Hexham/Hadrian's Wall would have been enough. Not every watchtower needed to be inscribed.

For Malta, I think it's fine. The temples at the sea side were nice and had OUV.

With New Zealand, you just broke my heart. In a country with so few WHS they went ahead and merged them?! But I can see the point. Essentially, it's the whole South Western coast of the Southern Island.

Barcelona & Gaudi: The Gaudi facade of the Sagrada Famiilia is inscribed, is it not? It's one city, one architect, as long as we don't start inscribing Gaudi in ... San Fransisco, I don't mind adding sites.

@Pawel: Agreed re Bauhaus. Praha, though, I find it better to have a large inscription with components than going the Seoul way of having soon 10 WHS in one city.

For the outlook: There are several (Corfu, Elvas, Epidarus) where a strong representative is already inscribed. And where adding more will be nice, but not strengthen OUV. Others seem like cleanup activites (e.g. adding a church to a serial site like Asturias).

Matejicek 31 October 2021

Iconic Bauhaus was diluted by Houses with balconies and expansion from Weimar&Dessau to Bernau.
Beech forests are more complicated, because first entry by Slovakia&Ukraine was diluted by addition of lower quality forest by agile wester-countries-WHS machine, and unique forest of Balkan and eastern Europe were set apart. Now, it is good and logical that these forest were added this year.
Roman limes is very clear example as already mentioned....
Prague-extension TWHS: originally proposed extension by Břevnov monastery and Hvězda chateau was right and logical. Now, the state party goes with the trend that no more historical monuments should be inscribed, thus valuable but "incoherent" single monuments such as Muller villa and Plečnik´s church are being pushed. IMHO they should be proposed separately.
Luther memorials extensions - I hope it will never come into reality
On the other hand, extension of Spišský hrad by Levoča was OK.
From ensemble inscribed together, I have a problem with Kuttná Hora + Sedlec church, where most tourist are attracted by Sedlec Ossuary, which is even not the part of WHS, but Sedlec should be separated or not even included to the mining town of Kutná Hora.
St. Petersburg - enormous number of single components around the city have been inscribed. Peterhof is OK, but still it is only about marketing.

Solivagant 31 October 2021

I note that, while we have a number if Connections for different sub groups of extensions Adding marine, twice or more etc) we don't have one for all extended WHS (I don't think I have missed it) . The info is within the site history only. Should be limited to "formal" extensions. Not minor boundary changes which have their own Connection. Could still leave the extension subgroup Connection as, I suspect, the list of all extended WHS I'd going to be quite long.

Kyle Magnuson 31 October 2021

The Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties was inscribed in 1987 and only included the dynastic palace in Beijing. In 2004, the "The Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty in Shenyang" was approved as an extension, and the WHS name was changed to "‘Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties". Minimal information has been ever shared about the Shenyang Imperial Palace amongst our users.

Jay T 31 October 2021

Debatable extensions beyond every beech forest in Europe? I have doubts that the Frontiers of the Roman Empire need more examples added to the list. In fact, that original extension is the most egregious in my mind: Hadrian’s Wall was an excellent representation of the boundary of the Roman Empire on its own.

Some of the extensions listed above I think are a benefit, rather than a detriment. The Canadian Rocky Mountains offer so much more with geology and OUV scenery than just the originally inscribed Burgess Shale formation. The Loire Valley itself is a cultural landscape that augments the originally inscribed Chambord.

As for sites on the TWHS list, I agree that the Moravian settlements could benefit from the context of additional sites worldwide. On the US list, I’d be more in favor of Ellis Island as an extension to the Statue of Liberty than as a new site. On Palestine’s list, I would like to see Al Maghtas as an extension to Jordan’s Bethany Beyond the Jordan (protecting the pilgrimage routes/access on both sides of the Jordan). On New Zealand’s list, I’d like to see the Waters and Seabed of Fiordland be added as an extension to Te Wahipounamu. But I’m afraid that doesn’t help you answer your question on debatable extensions, since I’m in favor of those…