Liverpool joins Oryx Sanctuary, Elbe Valley on names dropped from World Heritage list

Saturday July 24 2021
The Merseyside Maritime Museum and Pump House

The Merseyside Maritime Museum and Pump House at the Albert Dock, Liverpool. PHOTO | AFP


Liverpool’s Maritime Mercantile City in Britain was not so lucky as on Wednesday it became only the third site ever to be struck off the list for failing to maintain World Heritage criteria.

The other two were Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in 2007 and Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley in 2009. Selous and Liverpool were the only sites recommended for deletion this year.

The vote to remove Liverpool, which has been on the World Heritage List since 2004, was done by majority secret ballot following two days of heated debate among committee members over modern real estate property developments along the city’s waterfront area that were said to have diminished its key status as an ‘ancient’ site.

Liverpool Waters is a mixed-use project for residential units, business space, hotel and conference facilities among others to regenerate town’s historic docklands which have stood derelict for many years.

According to the town, the aim of the project is to enable it to with Hamburg, Boston and Barcelona in terms of waterfront offer.

Liverpool’s historic centre and docklands were inscribed for bearing witness to development of one of the world’s major trading centres in 18th and 19th centuries. The site illustrated pioneering developments in modern dock technology, transport systems and port management.


Salonga reprieve

The committee also decided on Monday to take the Salonga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo off the list of endangered World Heritage Sites after accepting clarifications from DR Congo officials regarding controversial oil concessions and anti-poaching measures related to the property.

WWF said anti-poaching measures allowed for SNP’s stable bonobo and forest elephant population. According to latest biomonitoring estimates, SNP hosts over 15,000 bonobos (about 50 per cent of global population) and 1,500 forest elephants.

Salonga National Park, which is Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve, became a World Heritage Site in 1984 and was added to the list of endangered sites in 1999.

Salonga has been on in-danger list since 1999 due to conflict, poaching, deforestation, poor management and illegal occupation. Oil blocks granted to exploration firms encroached on SNP posing a threat to wildlife-rich site.

Situated at the heart of the central basin of the Congo River, the park is isolated and accessible only by water but remains the habitat of many endemic endangered wildlife species including the bonobo, the Congo peacock, the forest elephant and the African slender-snouted or ‘false’ crocodile.

It plays major role in climate regulation and sequestration of carbon dioxide.

Unesco World Heritage Committee said any deletion from World Heritage List is a loss to international community, globally shared values and commitments under the World Heritage Convention.

Unesco’s 44th session of World Heritage Committee hosted by Fuzhou town in China is taking place online until July 31 this year. It started on July 16, 2021 and IUCN is the Committee’s official advisor on nature.