While it’s no news to us that we live in one of the most beautiful countries on planet Earth, it’s always nice to have your awe-inspiring sites be recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Four such locations — Taman Negara (National Park), Royal Belum in Gerik, Perak, Permatang Kuarza in Gombak, Selangor, and the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) are currently on organization’s shortlist for official World Heritage Sites.
However, we feel that as the public, you should know that we might be waiting a long time to hear back from our friends at UNESCO: Taman Negara has been sitting on the tentative list since 2014, with the other three put on the list in February 2017.
Speaking at a question and answer session at the Dewan Negara (Upper House of Parliament), Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik told parliamentarians that identifying such locations around the country as national heritage sites helps protect their biodiversity, history, and cultural values. It also protects such areas from potential “development.”
Malaysia has 69 national heritage sites across the Malaya Peninsula and Borneo.
Muhammad Bakhtiar was responding to questions from two Senators enquiring what the governemnt were doing to ensure that natural heritage sites and buildings were being protected, as well as how much that UNESCO World Heritage Site declarations was going to cost us.
Turns out, UNESCO doesn’t come cheap and RM1.5 million (US$361,000) will be needed to cover the costs of engaging experts, preparing files, management plans, research and data collection.
Famous UNESCO sites around the world include the Angor Wat in Cambodia, the Acropolis in Greece, and Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia in Turkey.
Wondering what it takes? Well, according to their criteria, you must possess at least ONE of the following (#7 and #10, for sure tho):
-To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius
-To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design
-To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
-To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history
-To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change
-To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria)
-To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
-To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
-To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
-To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
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