Dresden might lose world heritage site status in July

Dresden might lose world heritage site status in July
A bridge too far? Photo:DPA
Dresden could lose its coveted ranking as a world heritage site when the Unesco committee meets in Quebec next month.

The United Nations cultural agency’s world heritage committee will consider whether the construction of a four-lane bridge across the Elbe Valley has destroyed the cultural landscape.

The 18th- and 19th-century cultural landscape of the valley, with the stunning views of Dresden’s city was designated a heritage site for its beauty and history – and the fact it had not been wrecked by modern development.

But the Saxony city has been consumed by arguments over the Forest Castle Bridge for the last few years, with arguments for saving the view clashing against those for easing traffic congestion in the city.

Various votes were held, yet last November construction began, after a court dismissed arguments by conservationists that it would pose a threat to rare horseshoe bats that live on the banks of the Elbe.

The Unesco meeting between July 2 and 10 will not only rule on Dresden, it will also consider requests to add 47 new cultural treasures to the list.

Gaining world heritage designation binds the responsible authorities to certain maintenance measures as well as bringing the recognition, and often tourist attention that comes with it.

Istanbul may get a fresh warning from the committee to halt chaotic urban development around its old city, which became a world heritage site in 1985.

Among the new sites that want to become world treasures is the Antonine Wall in Scotland, the second wall built by the Romans at their empire’s northernmost fringe.

Others include Mount Sanqingshan National Park in China and the historic monuments at Kaesong in North Korea.

Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple on the border with Thailand is also in the running, despite an ongoing dispute with Bangkok.

In a first, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation deleted Oman’s Arabian oryx sanctuary from the list last year after the government cut the size of the park by 90 percent.