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"It ain't necessarily so.....!" Incorrect media reporting about WHS

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Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 1 Oct 2009 04:09 | Edited by: Solivagant 
"The Scotsman" appears (July 2) to have got rather carried away with patriotic pride in this report
("Historic Scotland", the Government agency from where the story originated, was more careful and precise with its use of words - though they were perhaps too open to misinterpretation! rticleid=24264 )

"The Scotsman" is not alone. The error has already been repeated many times either by plagiarists/syndicators or by others who have not been accurate enough in reporting Historic Scotland's press releases - see this report by a US-Chinese TCV station dated 17 Sept.

Soon a large part of the World will believe that Mt Rushmore is a "World Heritage Site"!!

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 3 Oct 2009 04:33 | Edited by: Solivagant 
The next media error about WHS which I have noticed comes from the English newspaper "The Guardian" (Oct 1 2009).
This article about the Saxon villages in Romania is quite interesting - to myself in particular as it is already 10 years since I visited a number of them and I have been following in the media as best I can the significant changes which have occurred there. e

(Those of you who follow this Web site's "Connections" will already know of the UK Prince of Wales's interest in the villages as referred to by Jenkins - see )!

Simon Jenkins is a reputable, even noteworthy, UK journalist and TV broadcaster and has at least researched this subject "on location" in person (but for only 1 day??) rather than totally at a distance from second hand sources. But his knowledge of the World Heritage Site aspect is somewhat lacking.

He states "Unesco has designated some of the Saxon churches as world heritage sites, as has the Romanian government, but not the villages."
Leaving aside the strange "concept" that the Romanian government has, as well as UNESCO, designated some of the churches as WHS, it is of course not correct that only the churches are designated ("Inscribed").

The history of the site whose current correct title is "The Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania" shows that Romania did indeed first attempt to gain inscription for just 1 fortified church - at Biertan. However UNESCO's June 1991 Bureau meeting "felt that it was necessary for it to be afforded satisfactory legal protection, particularly with regard to the proposed protective perimeters." Accordingly in 1993 the site was inscribed as "Biertan and its Fortified Church" with a significant part of the village of Biertan having been added. In 1999 a further 6 "villages" (each with a fortified church) were added and the inscribed area of Biertan village was extended (but all this only after referral back in July 99 for improved management plans which were provided in time for inscription in Dec 99).

This is all fully documented on the UNESCO Web site so, quite where Jenkins got his information that only the churches were inscribed isn't clear - he certainly didn't check with UNESCO!

The ICOMOS evaluation for the 1999 extension is interesting reading however in the light of the subsequent events as reported by Jenkins. ( )
ICOMOS clearly had concerns about the ability of Romania adequately to manage and protect the site. The Periodic Review of 2006 doesn't appear however to have stimulated any particular action by UNESCO. The way in which UNESCO chooses which sites to take action on remains idiosyncratic - the feeling can't be avoided that it rather likes targeting democratic "rich" countries undertaking 21st century development whilst ignoring far more damaging failures in less high profile cases!

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 3 Apr 2010 12:04 | Edited by: Solivagant 
There ought to be some mileage in this concept!!!
"Erbil's Citadel was officially and "temporarily" listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage List in an official ceremony on Tuesday, March 9"

Soon everyone will be doing it and avoiding all that hassle with formal nominations and Advisory Body evaluations. A country puts forward a site in January for the T list and then holds an "official ceremony" in March to get it "Temporarily listed" - well at least that is what a government tells its credulous citizenry - though apparently UNESCO was involved. I wonder if the government of Kurdistan told the UNESCO rep that he was at a ceremony to "Temporarily Inscribe" the site!


Author elsslots
#4 | Posted: 17 Jun 2010 12:36 
What about this one (also from Iraq) - I can't even find it at the Tentative List

Author Solivagant
#5 | Posted: 27 Jul 2010 01:50 
One would have hoped for better accuracy from the UN's OWN news agency (UN News Centre)

"Last year, UNESCO removed Germany's Dresden Elbe Valley from its World Heritage List due to the building of a four-lane bridge in the heart of the cultural landscape, as well as the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, de-listed for the country's failure to fulfil its conservation obligations for the site."
The Oryx sanctuary was of course removed from the list in 2007.

Author Solivagant
#6 | Posted: 17 Oct 2010 04:01 | Edited by: Solivagant 
This report from Xinhua headed "Armenia operates world's longest rope-way transport system for World Heritage site" contains a nice example of a "media-introduced error" as reports get relayed around the world by organisations which have absolutely no knowledge of the original facts.

Tatev monastery is of course only on Armenia's T List. Early reports in other sources over the past few days correctly identified this fact, but Xinhua has elevated the site to fully inscribed status!

So many Chinese sites have a cable car or similar to them or in them that China probably considers having such a facility perfectly normal and only its length to be of interest!

I (partially!) apologise to Xinhua - whilst some international news organisations did get the facts correct even Armenian sites themselves were perfectly capable of getting it wrong - so it is hardly surprising any Chinese agency using them would pass on the error. See this site with a ".am" domain name from Armenia

Author Solivagant
#7 | Posted: 28 Oct 2011 06:03 | Edited by: Solivagant 
During our recent trans-Europe trip we visited the village of Arbanasi (AKA Arbanassi) near to Veliko Tarnavo in Bulgaria. The Church paintings were certainly very fine and there was the usual vernacular architecture mueum in the form of a Merchant's House - with a shopping opportunity in the basement for Bulgarian knick-knacks. The village contains a residence of the former Bulgarian communist dictator Todor Zhivkov (now a hotel) together with a number of other developments which would seem likely to make inscription of the village rather problematic. Nevertheless I asked the guide about UNESCO WHS aspirations and she said that they would like to get inscribed but that Irina Bukova (the Bulgarian UNESCO Director General) "wasn't doing anything for them".

Surprise, surprise then to receive a travel company notification stating that this village is a WHS! Searches on the Web turned up yet further claims.
Herewith a few
etc etc - it seems to be a standard part of the village's advertising and is even replicated in UK travel companies' itineraries!

I don't think I have missed anything and the village isn't part of some bigger site - indeed it isn't even on Bulgaria's T List!

The attitude of the Bulgarians to Ms Bukova was instructive - I tried to gain a view of their view of her family's nomenclatura status and their somewhat dubious record under Communism - given that she to some extent was "representing" them and had somehow risen within UNESCO despite this history but none of this was of interest to them. All they wanted was that "one of theirs" in a position of authority and influence should get them something from her position!!

Author Solivagant
#8 | Posted: 28 Oct 2011 18:52 | Edited by: Solivagant 
It seems to be getting quite normal now to claim that places are UNESCO World Heritage sites when they are not!!!
Here is some ignorant UK MP claiming on BBC TV that St Paul's Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site!!
But who would expect an MP to get ANYTHING right on something he hadn't specifically been briefed on?

Author elsslots
#9 | Posted: 3 Mar 2013 05:13 
The flags are out at Arbil: tage-site/

They already heard they will become a WHS in 2014! While others have to wait to the WHC session of summer 2014..

But we can be quite sure that this will be an entry for the WHC 2014

Author meltwaterfalls
#10 | Posted: 3 Mar 2013 14:56 
I can't believe it, Press TV reports something of dubious veracity, whatever next.

Author joycevs
#11 | Posted: 8 Mar 2013 04:28 
Funny enough a co-worker asked me if I ever visited Croatia. He saw a TV program where they stated that Croatia had about 30 World Heritage sites...

In the latest Dutch National Geographic Traveller is an article about 10 World Heritages. Unfortunately they mixed up the Intangible Heritage with World Heritage. You can read the article here.

Author evilweevil
#12 | Posted: 4 Jan 2014 11:03 
Seems like CNN is not so sure about what is a World Heritage Site either - 2 out of their 20 "most beautiful" are not actually on the list (Bagan, Tulum)...


Author elsslots
#13 | Posted: 4 Jan 2014 11:22 
Good find! How stupid, 10% wrong

Author Durian
#14 | Posted: 20 Jan 2014 00:51 
Tragic news on Norwagian Laerdalsoyri Village Fire, but actually not part of WHS as many media report. The village is located in Laerdal Fjord, part of Sogne Fjord, not even near listed Naeroyfjord! 38807

Author winterkjm
#15 | Posted: 24 Apr 2014 00:34 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Petrified Forest of Lesvos (Greece) INSCRIBED! - seemingly this article meant to say it was recently included on the new tentative list. However, the information on the nomination dossier is interesting, does this indicate that a nomination has already been completed and sent for 2015 or 2016? Or is it another mistake? escos-world-heritage-list/

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 "It ain't necessarily so.....!" Incorrect media reporting about WHS

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