(AsiaNews/Agencies) - Unfettered economic growth and unchecked mass tourism are
endangering Asia's architectural treasures, which could vanish in a few years, a
report by the Global Heritage Fund (GHF) warns. To illustrate the situation, the
latter has released a list of ten sites that are threatened; they range from a
Buddhist monastery in Afghanistan, where a powerless international community
witnessed the Taliban wantonly destroy the Buddhas of Bamiyan in March 2001, to
an ancient city in China. Established in 2002 in California, the GHF chose the
sites that are most in danger of "irreparable loss and destruction."
sites represent merely a fragment of the endangered treasures across Asia and
the rest of the developing world," GHF executive director Jeff Morgan said
in presenting the report.
The main danger
comes from economic growth, which has brought hordes of tourists, but also lawlessness
is being dramatically undervalued. Thus, the reinvestment and the focus on
heritage is lacking today," Morgan said, warning that the endangered sites
were doomed without quick help.
going to lose them on our watch in the next 10 years."
The ruins of Ayutthaya
(pictured), the ancient capital of
Siam (today's Thailand), is one of the sites most at risk.
Declared by the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a
world heritage in 1991, it suffered greatly in last year's great flood, which
damaged 158 historic monuments.
government does not have the means or the will to invest the resources experts deem
necessary for the site's restoration. At the same time, the historic city has
come under threat from vendors and urban development. This had raised concerns
that the site might be removed from the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The top 10
endangered sites, according to the Global Heritage Fund, are:
1. Ayutthaya in
Thailand, a former Siamese capital known as the 'Venice of the East'.
2. Fort Santiago
in the Philippines.
3. Kashgar, one
of the last preserved Silk Road cities in China.
Mahasthangarh, one of South Asia's earliest archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
5. Mes Aynak, an
Afghan Buddhist monastery complex on the Silk Road.
capital of the first Arakanese kingdom in Myanmar.
7. Plain of
Jars, a mysterious megalithic site in Laos.
8. Preah Vihear,
a Khmer architectural masterpiece in Cambodia.
one of the biggest, ancient Indus civilization sites in India.
10. Taxila, an
ancient economic crossroads in Pakistan.