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The mission was handed a draft Management Plan during its visit. However, the mission considers that this requires considerable further work.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that a further request for information on the details of the proposed new port needs to be made. The possible impact on the maritime archaeology of the bay is a major concern. The mission reported (4.4.6) that documentary evidence indicates that at least five ships were wrecked in the vicinity of Galle harbour between 1659 and 1776, only two of which, including Hercules have yet been located. Given that the shipwrecks are important tangible attributes of the outstanding universal value of the property as a 17th-18th century fortified port on maritime trading routes, it can be argued that they should be included as part of the World Heritage property, rather than protected only by a buffer zone.

In the absence of convincing evidence of the visual impact of the cricket ground buildings on the ramparts of the World Heritage property it would be preferable to wait rather than request removal of the buildings by 2020 at this stage.

An alternative to the setting up of a new management authority for the World Heritage property as recommended by the mission would be to properly fund and resource the Galle Heritage Foundation, which as noted by the mission is already empowered by Act of Parliament [1994] “to promote the preservation, conservation and development of the Galle Fort together with its historic hinterland....”. It would perhaps be preferable to encourage the State Party to support its existing agency, the GHF, and empower it (through further legislative enactment if necessary) to stop illegal construction, initiate conservation projects, take on a much more proactive role with the other government agencies and stakeholders and become an agency in relation to the World Heritage property. In addition as recommended by the mission, the GHF should educate the public and property owners, provide conservation guidelines and establish a skilled building conservation team to undertake projects and set standards.

Finally, as recommended by the mission, in view of increased tourism since the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and consequent burgeoning accommodation and retail development, completion of the Conservation and Management Plan for Galle must be an urgent priority.

Draft Decision:

34 COM 7B.72

The World Heritage Committee,

  • 1.

    Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add,

  • 2.

    Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.82, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

  • 3.

    Notes with regret that the requested state of conservation report including plans

showing the revised boundaries of the property and buffer zone, a final comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan or a detailed report on current intentions with regard to the International Cricket Stadium and proposed new Port was not received;

  • 4.

    Reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to consider an extension of the World Heritage property boundary to include the maritime archaeology of the bay, and if agreeable to prepare a minor modification request to that effect;

  • 5.

    Also urges the State Party to review the buffer zone surrounding the Old Town of Galle, its fortifications and maritime archaeology in the context of protecting its setting from the adverse effects of any future development;

State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List

WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 128

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