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UNESCO chair warns Hue to take drastic preservation measures

Monday, October 27, 2014, 15:27 GMT+7
UNESCO chair warns Hue to take drastic preservation measures
International preservation experts examine a wooden structure in central Vietnam's Hue City on October 25, 2014.

The UNESCO Chair of Heritage and Urbanism urged at a Saturday seminar that central Vietnam’s Thua Thien-Hue Province take drastic measures to better safeguard Hue - the country’s imperial capital - or else the heritage may face being enlisted as endangered or even have its UNESCO World Heritage Site title revoked.

The seminar, held last Saturday in Hue and themed “Asian Wood Architecture Preservation in the cases of Vietnam and Japan,” saw the participation of several leading Japanese and Vietnamese experts in the area.

Prof. William Logan, UNESCO Chair of Heritage and Urbanism, expressed great concern over the existing issues regarding the preservation of the city’s complex of monuments.

According to Prof. Logan, the complex was conferred with the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 for being dominant evidence of the power exercised by the former feudal monarchy in Vietnam; and a shining example of an Oriental feudal capital.

However, the professor pointed out that Hue’s value as this dominant evidence was removed from UNESCO’s recognition criteria at its session in Doha in June.

Prof. Logan also noted that Hue does not yet have peripheral areas which can cushion its core from undesired surrounding impact.

Recent examples of adverse impact to the area include the expansion of a road cutting across a mountain which is integral to Khai Dinh Mausoleum’s fengshui, as well as the noise and pollution the ancient monument has suffered.

Structures with heights that exceed the allowed limits also pose a threat to the Royal Palace, the professor noted.

The landscape around the city’s iconic Huong River is also endangered by rampant urban invasion.

“If the province fails to monitor and better manage its preservation of the monuments, the entire complex’s overall value will certainly be hugely undermined. UNESCO may thus consider the province’s shortcomings as noncompliance and recommend that the complex be included in its list of endangered heritage sites, or even revoke the complex’s World Heritage Site title,”  Prof. Logan warned.

He also reminded the province to step up their comprehensive planning on preservation and management, which was requested by UNESCO in 2005.

The Saturday seminar also heard leading Japanese experts present their techniques on preserving wood architecture and demonstrate their meticulous attention and due respect to the original structures and details.   

Meanwhile, roughly 85% of Vietnam’s nationally recognized relics are wood structures.

However, local experts remarked that preservation work in Vietnam remains patchy, haphazard and inadequate.

A number of projects have had up to 80% of their components replaced with new ones, causing irreversible loss, they elaborated.

Entrance fees to Hue’s monuments to be raised by April, 2015

The Thua Thien- Hue Province People’s Council has assigned its People’s Committee to fix new admission rates for Hue’s monuments.

According to the committee, the current entrance fees to Hue’s monuments are considerably lower than those at other cultural complexes and tourist attractions in Vietnam and other countries in the region.

The fees for foreigners haven’t been raised since 1993.

The provincial People’s Council has approved the proposed maximum fees, which range from VND70,000 to 210,000 (up to US$10), compared to the current fees of VND30,000 to VND105,000.

The provincial People’s Committee will fix specific fees, which are to be applied starting April 1, 2015.

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