Two Latin American sites added to UNESCO's Danger List

27 June 2009

Threats to Belize's barrier reef reserve and Colombia''s Los Katios National Park from deforestation, illegal fishing and “excessive development” have led the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to inscribe the sites on its List of World Heritage in Danger.

The agenc's World Heritage Committee, which is currently meeting in Seville, said the main problem with the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System concerns mangrove cutting and excessive development in the property which was inscribed on UNESCO''s World Heritage List in 1996.

The Committee requested stricter control of development on the site – the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere – as well as the reinstatement of the moratorium on mangrove cutting on the site which expired in 2008.

Los Katios National Park was placed on the Danger List at the request of Colombia so as to help mobilize international support for the preservation of the property which is threatened by deforestation, as a result of the illegal extraction of timber.

Inscribed in 1994 for its exceptional biological diversity, the site is also suffering from illegal fishing and hunting

Also today, the 21-member Committee inscribed the Stoclet House, a private residence in Brussels that dates back to 1911, on the World Heritage List.

When banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet commissioned this house from one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement, Josef Hoffmann, in 1905, he imposed neither aesthetic nor financial restrictions on the project.

The Committee noted that the “austere geometry” of the house and garden, commissioned by banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet, “marked a turning point in Art Nouveau, foreshadowing Art Deco and the Modern Movement in architecture.”

Also added to the World Heritage List was a Spanish lighthouse dating back to antiquity, the Tower of Hercules in La Coruña, and the watch manufacturing towns of La Chaux-de–Fonds/Le Locle watch-making town-planning in Switzerland.

Many legends from the Middle Ages to the 19th century surround the Tower of Hercules, which is unique as it is the only lighthouse of Greco-Roman antiquity to have retained a measure of structural integrity and functional continuity.

Planned in the early 19th century, after extensive fires, the towns of La Chaux-de–Fonds/Le Locle in the Swiss Jura mountains owe their existence to watch-making. Their layout along an open-ended scheme of parallel strips on which residential housing and workshops are intermingled reflects the needs of the local watch-making culture that dates to the 17th century and is still alive today.

The World Heritage Committee will continue its current session until 30 June.


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