Wednesday, June 27, 2007

UNESCO: Dresden to stay on heritage list, for now

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The German city of Dresden will be struck off the U.N. list of world heritage sites unless officials change their plans for a bridge across the Elbe River, the list's guardians said Monday.
UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, holding its annual meeting in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch, has given German authorities four months to come up with an alternative plan for the bridge, or face delisting.
The committee last year threatened to delist the Dresden-Elbe Valley region because of a plan to build a four-lane bridge that UNESCO officials said would degrade the integrity of the landscape.
The committee on Monday decided to keep the region on its heritage "in danger" list, but asked German officials to change the traffic management plans for the bridge.
"If present plans for a bridge were replaced by a solution that respected the outstanding universal value of the cultural landscape, the site would remain on the World Heritage List," said a statement on the meeting's official web site.
"Otherwise, the committee decided, Dresden would be struck off the list."
The committee, part of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, would consider the matter again next year, the statement said.
Officials want to build a road bridge across the Elbe to ease traffic in Dresden, often referred to as the Florence of the Elbe for the baroque architecture that gives it a distinctive skyline.
If the organization decides to scrap the Dresden Elbe Valley from its list, it would be the first site ever to be removed from the World Heritage List, which identifies over 800 places around the world with "outstanding universal value."

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