Saturday, November 04, 2006

"National Geographic rates best and worst"

Photograph by MIchael Yamashita

Read the full article in The Seattle Times of November 3, 2006.

"The (National Geographic) magazine's November-December issue had 94 World Heritage sites evaluated by experts in ecology, sustainable tourism, preservation and other fields, to determine which sites were at risk from development or environmental pressures and which ones were being preserved and promoted appropriately.

"The magazine's "best-rated" World Heritage sites were Norway's West Fjords, followed by Vezelay in France, which is known for its abbey and medieval architecture; Mexico's Guanajuato, which dates to the 16th century; and Alhambra, Granada and Cordoba in Spain.......

""Destinations in trouble" were identified as Stonehenge, England; China's Great Wall; Machu Picchu, Peru; Acropolis, Greece; Egypt's pyramids; and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam."

From an earlier National Geographic article* in National Geographic:
UNESCO officials do not see the list as a mere trophy case of superlative places. World Heritage status commits the home nation to protect the designated location. And if a site—through natural disaster, war, pollution, or lack of funds—begins to lose its value, nations that have signed the treaty must assist, if possible, in emergency aid campaigns. To date 172 of the world’s 192 nations have signed the treaty.

The World Heritage program has scored high-profile successes. It exerted pressure to halt a highway near Egypt’s Giza Pyramids, block a salt mine at a gray whale nursery in Mexico, and cancel a dam proposal above Africa’s Victoria Falls. Its funds, provided by dues from the treaty’s signers, have hired park rangers, bought parkland, built visitor centers, and restored temples.

It relies on persuasive powers more than legal threats, but at age 30 the World Heritage initiative has quietly become a force for appreciating and safeguarding the world’s special places.
*"They need a world of support, and they’ve got it. Today 730 World Heritage sites find salvation in the United Nations," feature by Tom O’Neil, National Geographic Magazine, October 2002.

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