This year there are 67 at-risk sites in 41 countries and territories on the biennial World Monuments Watch, compiled by the nonprofit New York-based World Monuments Fund, which helps support the preservation of such ‘treasured places.’
The sites on the 2012 list illustrate a need to balance heritage concerns and the social, economic, and environmental interests of communities around the world, said World Monuments Fund President Bonnie Burnham.
“While these sites are historic, they are also very much of the present — integral parts of the lives of the people who come into contact with them every day. Indeed, the Watch reminds us of our collective role as stewards of the earth and of its human heritage,” Burnham said.
Among the sites listed is the First Cemetery of Athens, Greece, which is the oldest cemetery in the city and contains the graves of key Greek figures from the past two centuries. The fund said it is in need of preservation due to neglect.
The Preston Bus Station in Britain was once the world’s largest bus station, but the fund said is is now slated for demolition as part of a redevelopment scheme. It is listed by the fund with other modernist British sites — Birmingham Central Library and London’s South Bank Centre.
“These and other buildings like them date from an era in which government had the resources and the will to create major civic buildings,” the fund said. “They are too often seen as impediments to private-sector redevelopment.”
TOOL TO LEVERAGE FUNDING
Poorly managed tourism is threatening the ancient Nasca lines and geoglyphs in the desert of southern Peru. The giant figures, which were drawn between 500 BC and 500 AD, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, the fund said.
In New York City the fund raised questions about the legality of recent alterations to the former Manufacturers Trust Company Building at 510 Fifth Avenue, a small box-shaped building which sits amid the Midtown Manhattan skyscrapers.
“Local advocates filed a lawsuit, and a temporary restraining order on further alterations has been issued,” the fund said.
“While the case seeks to preserve an icon of American modernism, it also serves as an important touchstone for the effectiveness of preservation legislation and policies in the United States, and of the government agencies charged with their enforcement.”
Several sites damaged by earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand and Haiti also made the list.
Since the fund started the watch list in 1996, there has been 688 sites in 132 countries and territories listed.