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We place values on things that matter us, same goes for World Heritage sites. They carry values and meanings of aesthetics, historic, symbolic, economic, educational and academic etc. depending on individual importance (Timothy and Boyd, 2006). These historic and natural environments are made up of buildings, monuments, sites and landscapes that reflect our pride, history and heritage (UNESCO, 2014).
If we do not have measures in place to protect and conserve our environment, these important sites would risk being changed and loose what makes them special, or being destroyed and lost forever. As a result, we need to safeguard, protect and conserve our heritage for the benefit of the current and future generation. Timothy and Boyd (2006) outlined three general factors contributing to the challenges of the conservation at the sites. The authors stated that these factors are largely contributed by large numbers of people visiting a site causing wear and tear and polluting the area, lack of funding for the safeguarding of the site and wars. Heritage sites have international significant meanings and are often victims of war. According to UNESCO (2014) Timbaktu´s mosques and tombs in Mali, serve as an example from 2012 where rebels occupying the region destroyed and threatened the integrity and compromised the values of the tomb that meant so much to the community. Just because they have an international status. Now concerted efforts are underway to help Mali restore their destroyed heritage, using experts from UNESCO. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, uncontrolled urbanisation can also attribute to the threats at heritage sites (UNESCO, 2014). Therefore, there is a need for World Heritage sites managers to include stakeholders´ collaboration and community participation in the management strategies, managing and generating revenues to safeguard the heritage in the long run. This process creates a sense of ownership and pride amongst the people limiting the conservation issues at heritage sites (Leask and Fyall, 2006). UNESCO (2005a) as cited by Leask and Fyall (2006) concludes that our cultural identity is important because heritage is a source of pride which shapes our identity.
Centre, U. (2014). UNESCO expert mission evaluates damage to Mali’s Cultural Heritage. [online] Available in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1022/ [Accessed 25 Nov.2014].
Centre, U. (2014). UNESCO world Heritage Centre-World Heritage. [online] Available in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/about/ [Accessed 26 Nov.2014].
Leask, A. and Fyall, A. (2006). Managing World Heritage sites. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Timothy, D. and Boyd, S. (2006). Heritage Tourism in the 21st Century: Valued Traditions and New Perspectives. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 1 (1), pp1-6.
By: Wilhelmina Asino