UNESCO panel adds four sites to borderline danger list

UNESCO's World Heritage panel added four more sites to its borderline danger list, meaning extra monitoring will be in place for the historic sites of Machu Picchu, Timbuktu, Bordeaux and Samarkand, the committee said in a statement Thursday, dpa reported.

But the sites have not yet apparently been added to the World Heritage in Danger list.

The sites will be visited regularly under a new system set up in 2007 for sites under natural or human stress, so that experts may help guide management on the ground, the committee said at the end of eight days of meetings in the Canadian city of Quebec.

The 15th-century Peruvian site of Machu Picchu, built at the height of Incan culture, has "urgent problems" with deforestation, risk from landslides, illegal entry and "uncontrolled urban development," the panel said.

The committee said progress had been made at Samarkand in Uzbekistan, called the Crossroads of Cultures, but there were threats from new roads and buildings constructed since it was first named to the World Heritage list in 2001. The panel asked for "reinforced monitoring" to make sure more development plans do not negatively impact the historic values of the location.

Timbuktu in Mali, in northern Africa, has improved enough since 2005 to be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. But new construction near the mosques, "notably that of the Ahmed Baba Cultural Centre," were of concern, the panel said.

Plans to build new river crossings in the Port of the Moon, the historic part of the city of Bordeaux, have raised red flags for the committee, which also said it "regretted the destruction" of the Pertuis bridge in 2007.

Over the past week, the world heritage panel added 27 new sites to its prestigious list, including first-time decisions for four countries - Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Vanuatu and San Marino.

Fourteen applicants were turned down, including three of Latin America's five hopefuls in Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil.

Seven sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger were kept on a watch list for extra monitoring, including Dresden's Elbe Valley in Germany because of the construction of a disputed four-lane bridge.

Other sites kept on the danger list and under close watch were the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls; and the five Congolese sites of Virunga National Park, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Garamba National Park, Salonga National Park and Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

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