As Bagan gets world heritage status, conservation must be prioritized

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  • With Myanmar’s living heritage Bagan making it into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, the people of the nation have cause to celebrate. Bagan has more than 3,500 stupas, temples, monasteries, and other religious structures, built between the 11th and 13th centuries, which have endured different kinds of challenges for more than a thousand years.
    A world heritage tag for out national heritage shows that the world has recognized the outstanding universal value of Bagan and its unique cultural significance, transcending national boundaries and generations of humanity, present and future.
    This means Bagan will be preserved for generations, over the next thousands of years, under the protection and management of the international community.
    It is important to know that Bagan’s inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List not only brings opportunities to maintain and help the site to thrive, but also responsibilities, which we must share with the international community.
    We must improve the legal and institutional framework for protecting the site, especially to address pressures from uncontrolled development in a protected area, which still remain an imminent threat.
    As we could not reverse inappropriate conservation interventions in the most important archaeological and monument site in Asia, the nomination to the World Heritage List in 1995 was rejected.
    We then adopted a new heritage law and formed plans to reduce the impact of hotels and tourism development around the pagodas, and to stop any infrastructure from being built in the cultural zone.
    The religious devotion and wealth of this early Buddhist empire is expressed through the remarkable scale and density of the architecture and continuing religious activities, which have survived for centuries and influenced the region.
    In fact, the conservation of cultural heritage does not mean conserving lifeless edifices and items, but things which are connected with the history and culture of our country.
    The duty to conserve our national heritage falls on the shoulders of all the people, and all parties involved in the conservation work have the responsibility to follow the rules prescribed by the UNESCO.
    All parties concerned are urged to continue their efforts and to cooperate with the authorities so that our cultural heritage remains intact for another thousand years.
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