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Smaller than they seem

In the recent wrap-up of his visit to Georgia and Upper Svaneti, Nan reminded us of the extremely limited core zone of this WHS. Upper Svaneti is a historic region centered around the town of Mestia, but this site covers only one village some 2 hours drive away! It triggered me to look for other WHS that are ‘Smaller than they seem’, with the purpose of bringing them together in a new connection and alerting future visitors so they can prevent the dreaded 'near miss'.

Possible connected sites

In addition to Upper Svaneti, I found the following:

Vegaøyan – The Vega Archipelago (Norway) does not cover the full archipelago, especially large parts of the main Vega island (where you will arrive) are excluded. Also, the title has a ‘natural’ feel, while it is a cultural landscape focusing on the local lifestyle of fishing and eider down harvesting.

Lower Valley of the Omo (Ethiopia) is a case study in itself as 43 years after its inscription its official boundaries are still unconfirmed. The ‘Omo Valley’ tours that are a staple of Ethiopian tourism and bring you to the tribes probably do not coincide with the WHS: not in geographical scope and certainly not in what to look for. They’d better have called the WHS ‘Hominid fossil sites in the Lower Omo Valley’.

Yakushima (Japan): setting foot on the relatively small Yakushima island isn’t enough, the protected area only covers the higher altitude center of the island plus some outlying portions.

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil): the majority of Rio’s built environment is excluded - the core zone is limited to natural elements that have seen human intervention, resulting in a 'cultural landscape'.

Belize Barrier-Reef Reserve System (Belize): the reef is a well-distinguishable feature that can be seen all along Belize’s coast. Here the nuance lies in the ‘Reef Reserve’ in its name:  seven protected sites have been selected.

Western Ghats (India): the Western Ghats is a huge mountain range that you are likely to cross once or twice when travelling overland in India; however the WHS is limited to 37 very specific parks and reserves which require some effort and formal entry.

Lake Malawi NP (Malawi): the WHS uses the same scoping as the National Park, but both cover only the southern part of the lake so Southern Lake Malawi might have been a better name.

Pantanal Conservation Area (Brazil): the ‘Conservation Area’ gives it away a bit, but this site covers much less than the region that is known as the Pantanal in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.  Four adjacent nature reserves/parks that are seen as representative of the whole have been chosen. See the picture below, the striped bit with the logo is the WHS core zone within the wider Pantanal region in green.

Origins and consequences

The confusion all seems to stem from non-precise names. Maybe the Advisory Bodies should have requested a name change in these cases, a practice they haven't been exactly shy of recently.

Overall, I think the package always should reflect its contents. In some cases ‘Smaller than they seem’ even extends into ‘Not what you think it is’ as not only the geographical location is ambiguous, but also what kind of site it is. Omo and Vegaøyan are the best examples of this.

Do you know of more examples of WHS which are more limited in scope than their titles suggest?

Els - 20 August 2023

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Els Slots 20 August 2023

Thank you all for the suggestions - I will bring the topic forward to a forum post in order to come to a better definition and possibly a better title also.

Solivagant 20 August 2023

@Nan "Upper Svaneti meanwhile is plenty misleading as it's really just a single village in the large region the title refers to."
But you can look that up just as easily (more easily I think) as the Ghats Parks, so I don't think we should use "Ability to look up" as a reason.
The Title of Upper Svaneti is just misleading - if there were good reasons why only one village could be inscribed then name the site after it ... there are plenty of other sites so named - Vikolinec, Holloko, Holasivice...

Nan 20 August 2023

I think there are two kinds of smaller than expected.
* Upper Svaneti really is tiny in comparison to the overall landscape.
* Western Ghat is huge, even when limiting yourself to the core zone. It's just that the title implies the whole mountain range.

Generally, I don't mind large / small, when it's the core zone is clear. For Western Ghats it is as you can simply look up the National Parks and Reserves that it is comprised of.

Upper Svaneti meanwhile is plenty misleading as it's really just a single village in the large region the title refers to.

While I mostly have these issues with tentative site (cold winter desserts :( ), there are occasional WHS where the same happens to me. Mitla comes to mind.

Solivagant 20 August 2023

I wonder whether a better title might not be "Misleading WHS Names"... that then covers a possible range of aspects/reasons beyond just size.
Some of course are like that because their documentation is non-existent - Lower Valley of the Awash has the same problem in that respect as Lower Valley of the Omo.

Matejicek 20 August 2023

WHS - Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-eastern Sicily)
For example: only very small parts of Modica and Scicli towns are included to the core zones.

Solivagant 20 August 2023

We need to be careful that we "measure" the reality of a WHS against its full title. "The Water management system of Augsburg" doesn't really promise the town and Kilimanjaro NP doesn't promise the mountain.
I think that most "mountain" WHS E.g Sagamartha, Sangay, Mt Kenya make it clear that only the NP is included,
Even "restricted" titles of course can be vague in what they imply....
The full Rio title is "Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea".... how much does that "promise"?? It depends I guess on what you think that title really means!!!
the "Western Ghats" however is a good example of Els's "complaint" as that IS the full title!

"Complaining that the Pantonal Conservation area" doesn't cover much of the entire Pantonal is a bit like "complaining" that "Paris Banks of Seine" doesn't cover Paris.

Liam 20 August 2023

Potentially Mt Kilimanjaro? I recall that the boundaries of the WHS officially start 'at the treeline'... which can be, depending upon which route you take, a good few hours' walk beyond the trailhead and National Park office.

Augsburg? Only certain locations in town are actually inscribed.

Chauvet-Pont d'Arc also if you are being a stickler. The plaque may be at the replica cave but that (as discussed on this site previously) is not in the core zone.