Three United Nations World Heritage sites – the fabled city of Timbuktu in Mali, the Greco-Roman archaeological site of Butrint in Albania, and Sangay National Park in Ecuador – have been removed from the endangered list thanks to improvements in their preservation.
The World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reached the decisions at a weeklong meeting that began in Durban, South Africa, on Sunday.
Timbuktu, which in the 15th and 16th centuries was one of Africa’s leading spiritual and intellectual centres, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1988 and added to the Danger List in 1990. The Committee decided that the preservation of listed monuments had made sufficient progress after a range of measures including adoption of a management plan, work on water infrastructure, restoration of residential buildings and mosques, and the compilation of an inventory.
Butrint, with its vestiges from the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Venetian periods, was inscribed on the Heritage List in 1992 and added to the Danger List in 1997 because of looting, lack of protection, management and conservation, but the Committee said these reasons no longer applied.
Sangay National Park, inscribed on the Heritage List in 1983, was placed on the Danger list in 1992, but the Committee cited a sharp reduction in human activity harmful to the natural environment of the Park with its full spectrum of ecosystems and numerous indigenous animal species.
Over the coming days, the 21-member Committee will continue reviewing the state of conservation of sites on the World Heritage List and decide on new inscriptions. The Committee is in charge of implementing the 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which to date protects 788 sites of outstanding universal cultural or natural value around the world.