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Geographic wonder a heritage site

Global Times by Chen Rui and Deng Jingyin, Tuesday 3 August

A temple built in Danxia Landform in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province. Photos: IC

A temple built in Danxia Landform in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province. Photos: IC

UNESCO named the China Danxia Landform to its World Heritage list Monday, making it the country’s 40th property on the United Nations’ list.

The Danxia Landform consists mainly of red bedrock characterized by spectacular red cliffs. These rugged landscapes have helped conserve sub-tropical evergreen forests, as well as a host of many species of flora and fauna, about 400 of which are considered rare or threatened, UNESCO said.

The site comprises six areas found in sub-tropical Southwest China, including Langshan Mountain and Wanfoshan Mountain (Hunan Province), Danxiashan Mountain (Guangdong Province), Taining and Guanzhoushan (Fujian Province), Longhushan and Guifeng Mountain (Jiangxi Province), Chishui Mountain (Guizhou Province), Fangyan and Jianglangshan Mountain ( Zhejiang Province).

The historic monuments of Dengfeng in Central Henan Province were added Saturday to the World Cultural Heritage List.

Experts cautioned that a stamp by UNESCO means not only honor for a site, but also millions of visitors that may bring difficulties in protecting the site’s cultural heritage.

Sun Keqin, a professor with the China University of Geosciences, told the Global Times, “The success of listing China’s natural sites on the World Heritage List will promote economic development and strengthen people’s awareness in heritage protection. But risks of over-development of such heritage sites exist as well, such as building elevators or cableways for tourists’ convenience in some natural sites in China.”

Sun suggested that a specific fund for heritage protection be established to attract donations and financing, so tickets sales aren’t the only way of earning money for protection, and

Sun said local governments should control the number of tourists to limit pressure on the site.

Shan Jixiang, chief of the State administration of cultural heritage, said urbanization may conflict with the protection of natural heritage.

Shan said heritage protection faces a dilemma, as building houses and developing infrastructure in cities calls for more demolition and construction.

There are previous cases of heritage sites being deleted from UNESCO’s list due to local development.

Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley was put on the World Heritage List in 2004, as people could see magnificent buildings built in the 18th to 19th centuries along the riverside. But the local government planned to build a modern bridge across the valley despite UNESCO’s opposition. In 2009, it was deleted from the list, because “the property failed to keep its outstanding universal value as inscribed,” according to the official UNESCO website.

He Shuzhong, founder of the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center, said the local government strengthens the protection of World Heritage Sites, but that is not the key point of heritage protection ef-forts.

“The protection of cultural and natural heritage is not only a concern of the government, but also an issue that all the public should pay attention to,” he said.

Jing Feng, director of the Asia-Pacific regional department at the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, said China has sped up heritage-protection efforts in its applications for World Heritage Site recognition.

Although economic interests are a major concern of many countries in heritage application, there are countries that consider it as a kind of self-identity of their own cultures, Jing said.

Liu Linlin, Huang Jingjing and agencies contributed to this story.

Read the original article.

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