2022 HeritAP Chat on
Impact of Ground Transportation Infrastructure at World Heritage Sites
Gamini WIJESURIYA, LI Hong, WHITRAP Shanghai; WU Yimeng, Fudan University
On April 28, the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (WHITRAP Shanghai) organized the first Heritage Asia and the Pacific (HeritAP) Chat on "Impact of Ground Transportation Infrastructure at World Heritage Sites
". Under the theme, three case studies from China, the Philippines, and Pakistan, were presented. And six experts, from WHC, ICOMOS, WHITRAP Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) of the Philippines, and ICOMOS Pakistan were invited to attend. In total 482 audiences participated online.
Heritage practitioners, senior professionals, and institute representatives across the world, particularly those from the Asia-Pacific region, focused on the impacts of ground transportation infrastructure on the heritage sites and shared feasible measures and solutions for countries in response to this factor and its positive and negative impacts. Gamini WIJESURIYA, Special Advisor of WHITRAP Shanghai and ICCROM, and LI Hong, Programme Specialist of WHITRAP Shanghai were moderators for the HeritAP Chat.
Three cases, which are the Great Wall (China), Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Philippines), and Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Pakistan) respectively, were presented. Based on SOC reports and WH Committee decisions, members of HeritAP provided a brief synthesis of the processes followed and the current situation of these sites and exploring the way ground transportation infrastructure projects have influenced their heritage conservation, and measures taken to address the issues. for consideration and discussion. Then Gamini WIJESURIYA (Special Advisor of WHITRAP Shanghai and ICCROM), JING Feng (Chief of Asia and the Pacific Unit, WHC), Sharif Shams IMON (President, ICOMOS Bangladesh), ZHANG Yimeng (Associated Researcher, Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage), Michael MANALO (Head, National Committee on Monuments and Sites, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) of the Philippines), and Frauzia Husain QURESHI (President, ICOMOS Pakistan) deepened substantive discussions on this HeritAP chat’s theme. A brief summary of their discussion is provided below.
JING and IMON, as representatives of advisory bodies, emphasized the importance of discussing the impact of ground transportation infrastructure on the world heritage sites, which was supported by a large number of SOC reports reviewed in recent years, and the potential of the discussion to provide a framework for addressing similar issues of similar nature together. They agreed that ground transportation infrastructure will change the movement dynamics and bring problems to surroundings in a cumulative way
, therefore, it is linked with a broader debate around the challenges of combining necessary infrastructure and facilities, improvement for the well-being of populations, adapting to economic evolution, and the need to conserve vital heritage. Though among corresponding solutions, reactive monitoring, periodic reporting, and SOC all played an indispensable role in world heritage conservation, they agreed on the importance of building an intricate management system to proactively identify the infrastructure issues and steps taken for heritage impact assessments, hold consultation with relevant departments beforehand as prevention, and monitor the compliance to the guidelines.
Ground transportation infrastructure being a double-edged sword, JING underlined that the key principle in building it was to find the balance between the protection and development
, addressing the transport needs of the local population and heritage conservation simultaneously. He thought the key to doing so was to maintain the OUV. But besides OUV, the aesthetic value, noise pollution, structural risks, and other repeated vibrations should also be taken into consideration for heritage conservation.
The principle of striking a balance between development and conservation was shared by representatives of the three cases, which are ZHANG, MANALO, and QURESHI respectively. Based on their participation in the projects, they all stressed the importance of taking proactive measures, involving stakeholders in consultation, introducing relevant regulations, and monitoring compliance beforehand
According to QURESHI, due to lack of proactive measures, the case of Pakistan has been delayed for 2 years due to the results of heritage impact assessment and has failed to consider incorporating the technology of tunnel to build a metro underground to solve current issues. She particularly pointed out that in the case of Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, where the weakness of the Department of Archaeology as against a strong government was a concern but agreed that heritage impact assessment is an effective tool for consultation between all stakeholders
While the case of the Great Wall is a paradigm for holding early consultation, ZHANG said that he was involved in a 6-year proactive activity organized by the Chinese government called the Great Wall Resource Survey which started in 2006. Subsequently, China launched its national Regulation on the Protection of the Great Wall
in the same year and updated the overall conservation and management plan of the Great Wall (2019-2035)
. Hence, even though there already were constructions of high-speed transportation and oil pipelines, the heritage can be conserved properly with least impacts.
The case of the Philippines exemplified the efficacy of heritage impact assessment
in minimizing the negative impact of ground transportation infrastructure on heritage conservation. In around 2018-2019, it was temporarily suspended and resumed later due to the impact of the ongoing construction of ground transportation infrastructure. Referring to the results of heritage impact assessment, the design of the bridge was changed and the height of the bridge now has been lowered by about 20-30 meters compared with the original design. And according to MANALO, NCMS of the Philippines is trying to work with the department of environment and natural resources to seek a combination of the heritage impact assessment system with the environmental impact assessment system
, and talking to the department of public works and highway as well. Currently, the government is also considering introducing a long-term management plan, thus balancing development and conservation. MANALO as well acknowledged the importance of the transfer of the regulatory functions from another branch of government to NCMS.
Importance of proactive planning before projects are commenced, applications of the HIA tool, considering both positive and negative impacts of ground transportation and infrastructures and the need for broader consultations were some of the highlights of the chat. Importance of focusing on the OUV of sites and following the guidelines such as 172 of the OG were emphasizes.
This HeritAP Chat was concluded with a reflection on existing solutions and an appeal for more collective discussions on the significant theme such as ground transportation infrastructure. HeritAP will continue to focus on more related topics of World Heritage protection and reinforce the platform for further discussions. We expect to see more exemplary cases across the Asia-Pacific region that will be discussed in the HeritAP Chat in the following quarters, and more experiences can be shared to reach a larger audience.
Videos are uploaded here: http://heritap.whitr-ap.org/index.php?classid=12497&id=28&t=show
For more information, please download the Booklet for 2022 HeritAP Chat: Booklet for 2022 HeritAP Chat