The World Heritage Committee has approved a number of new World Heritage Sites with implications for tourism and conservation. On June 20, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines - Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir, an emergency nomination by Palestine, was inscribed on the World Heritage List and also on the List of World Heritage in Danger after finding that the landscape had become vulnerable to irreversible damage.
The area is located a few kilometres south-west of Jerusalem, in the Central Highlands between Nablus and Hebron. According to UNESCO, the Battir hill landscape comprises a series of farmed valleys, known as widian, with characteristic stone terraces, some of which are irrigated for market garden production, while others are dry and planted with grape vines and olive trees. The development of terrace farming in such a mountainous region is supported by a network of irrigation channels fed by underground sources. A traditional system of distribution is then used to share the water collected through this network between families from the nearby village of Battir.
A separation wall is currently being built that may isolate farmers from fields they have cultivated for centuries.
Erbil Citadel in Iraq is now a World Heritage Site. The citadel, in the Kurdistan region, Erbil Governorate, is a fortified settlement on the top of a tell (a hill created by many generations of people living and rebuilding on the same spot). The citadel features a peculiar fan-like pattern, dating back to Erbil’s late Ottoman phase. Erbil corresponds to ancient Arbela, an important Assyrian political and religious centre.
Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites in Japan is an historic sericulture and silk mill complex established in 1872 in the Gunma Prefecture north west of Tokyo. Built by the Japanese Government with machinery imported from France, it consists of four sites that feature different stages in the production of raw silk: production of cocoons in an experimental farm; a cold storage facility for silkworm eggs; reeling of cocoons and spinning of raw silk in a mill; and a school for the dissemination of sericulture knowledge. It was a decisive element in the renewal of sericulture and the Japanese silk industry in the last quarter of the 19th century, helping the country become the world’s leading exporter of raw silk.
Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah in Saudi Arabia was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on June 21 in a meeting in Doha, Qatar. The city is on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. From the 7th century A.D. it was established as a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes, channeling goods to Mecca. It was also the gateway for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca who arrived by sea.
These roles saw the city develop into a multicultural centre characterised by a distinctive architectural tradition, including tower houses built in the late 19th century by the city’s mercantile elites, and combining Red Sea coastal coral building traditions with influences and crafts from along the trade routes.
According to a FAQ on Unesco's website, the prestige received from the accolade often helps raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation, leading in turn to better protection and conservation. A country may also receive financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites. Sites can also be delisted.
The 38th session of the World Heritage Committee began on 15 June and will continue through to 25 June.