World her­itage list­ing is not a green light for ex­ploita­tion


off the coast of East China’s Fu­jian prov­ince, and the Kekex­ili Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve in North­west China’s Qing­hai prov­ince, were rec­og­nized as part of the world’s her­itage at the on­go­ing 41st ses­sion of the UN­ESCO World Her­itage Com­mit­tee in Poland. Bei­jing News com­mented on Sun­day:

The two sites have good rea­son to be rec­og­nized by UN­ESCO given the enor­mous ef­forts the lo­cal gov­ern­ments and res­i­dents have made to pro­tect their en­vi­ron­ments.

En­com­pass­ing a vast un­in­hab­ited area on the Qing­hai-Ti­bet Plateau, the Kekex­ili Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve is home to more than 200 wildlife species in­clud­ing the en­dan­gered Ti­betan an­te­lope. How­ever, un­til eight years ago, even its av­er­age el­e­va­tion of 4,600 me­ters above sea level did not stop poach­ers from en­ter­ing the re­serve and killing the an­telopes. Now, thanks to con­certed anti-poach­ing ef­forts, Ti­betan an­telopes are no longer listed as an en­dan­gered species.

Kekex­ili’s in­clu­sion on the UN­ESCO World Her­itage List of­fers inspi­ra­tion to those pro­tect­ing the na­tion’s nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage. Other na­ture re­serves whether on the list or not, must stay true to their mis­sion of pre­serv­ing the coun­try’s nat­u­ral

beauty and wildlife.

How­ever, many of China’s 52 World Her­itage sites re­ceive poorer pro­tec­tion af­ter be­ing listed, as some lo­cal of­fi­cials see be­ing in­cluded on the list as a goose that lays a golden egg in­stead of an inspi­ra­tion to bet­ter pro­tect cul­tural relics. Some of them have re­ceived warn­ings from UN­ESCO over the past two decades for fail­ing to keep up the good work.

Listed as a UN­ESCO World Nat­u­ral Her­itage Site in 1992, Zhang ji­a­jie Na­tional For­est Park in Cen­tral China’s Hu­nan prov­ince re­ceived a warn­ing just six years later be­cause of a num­ber of newly con­structed build­ings. It had to re­store an area of nearly 340,000 square me­ters at the cost of over 1 bil­lion yuan ($150 mil­lion).

The pur­pose of ap­ply­ing for in­clu­sion on the UN­ESCO World Her­itage List is to bet­ter pro­tect a county’s nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage, not to ex­ploit their com­mer­cial po­ten­tial.

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