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China's West Lake inscribed on World Heritage List

   The World Heritage Committee Friday inscribed the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou in eastern China on UNESCO's World Heritage List as a cultural property.

  A total of 35 nominations, including natural, cultural and mixed properties, are being reviewed by the Committee which is holding its 35th session at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

  The Committee also inscribed the Kenya Lake System and Australia's Ningaloo Coast on the World Heritage List.

  The World Heritage Committee made the decision in recognition of the West Lake surroundings as an extraordinary model of cultural landscape, which clearly reflects Chinese philosophy and aesthetics and inspires park designing art profoundly in China and abroad.

 

West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou in eastern China. 

  Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the 3,322-hectare landscape is a national cultural icon enriched with beautiful scenarios and dramatic legends. After centuries of human efforts in shaping it, the area is appreciated as a marvelous combination of natural and artificial beauty.

  Covered with luxuriant vegetation, the area is composed of a water surface of 5.66 square kilometers, and five territorial zones divided by causeways, dotted with numerous halls, towers, terraces, pavilions, pagodas, grottoes and temples.

  According to the Chinese State Bureau of Cultural Relics, the preparatory work for the West Lake Cultural Landscape to apply for World Heritage inscription kicked off in 1990 by the Hangzhou municipality, and has been further promoted by the State Bureau since 2008.

  Conforming to the requirements of preserving the authenticity, integrity and outstanding universal value of World Heritages, the Chinese government would enhance the protection and management of the West Lake Landscape with continuous efforts, said Tong Mingkang, vice director of the Chinese State Bureau of Cultural Relics.

  This is the ninth consecutive year that Chinese sites were approved to enter the World Heritage List. The West Lake Landscape thus became the 41st World Heritage in China.

 

West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou in eastern China. 

  However, due to disputes of the panel in the evaluation process, the committee didn't discuss the inscription of Wudalianchi National Park or Five Interconnected Lakes in northern Heilongjiang Province, the other of the two Chinese sites which applied this year.

  The World Heritage Committee, responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, comprises representatives of 21 countries and has the final say on whether to add a new site to the World Heritage List.

  The Kenya Lake System, a natural property of outstanding beauty in the Great Rift Valley, was the first to be added to the UNESCO. It comprises three inter-linked relatively shallow lakes (Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita) and covers a total area of 32,034 hectares in western Kenya.

  The property is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. Not only an important living site for the lesser flamingos and great white pelicans, the property also features sizeable mammal populations, including black rhino, Rothschild's giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs.

  It "is valuable for the study of ecological processes of major importance," UNESCO said in a statement.

  The 708,350-hectare marine and terrestrial property of Ningaloo Coast, on the remote western coast of Australia, includes one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world. On land, the site features an extensive karst system and network of underground caves and water courses.

  Ningaloo Coast is known for annual gatherings of whale sharks. It is also home to many marine species, including a wealth of sea turtles. Its subterranean water bodies support a variety of rare species, contributing to the exceptional biodiversity of the marine and terrestrial site.