UNESCO cited Belgians’ affinity for a wide range of beer in its official recognition of the beer culture of Belgium as a treasure of human culture that should be protected. Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
We might have assumed that yoga had already been recognized as intangible patrimony worthy of UNESCO status. But, surprisingly, that is just happening now, according to the Guardian. Speaking of surprises, beer culture–specifically that of Belgium–makes the cut as well. We are impressed with variety within this brewing heritage and hope the classification helps preserve the knowledge for all of us to get to sample all those styles. Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for this story:
Citing Belgian beer’s integral role in social and culinary life, UNESCO is putting the country’s rich brewing scene (with nearly 1,500 styles) on its list representing the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Belgium’s beer culture is one of 16 new additions that were announced Thursday. Continue reading
Ambatotsondrona cliffs, in the Marojejy National Park of Madagascar. This park is one of several included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site named Rainforests of the Atsinanana, which has been declared In Danger. Photo by Jeff Gibbs via WikiMedia Commons
We deeply care about UNESCO World Heritage Sites anywhere on the globe, and believe they can be a great conservation tool, so reading that the World Wildlife Fund thinks almost three times more of the Sites are threatened than UNESCO lists as “In Danger” is worrisome, to say the least. Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian:
Close to half of the sites around the world designated for special protection as areas of outstanding importance for nature are now being threatened by industrial development, a new survey has shown.
The sites, which include Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon in the US, and China’s giant panda sanctuaries in Szechuan, are all supposed to be protected under the United Nations’ designated world heritage status. But encroachments from industries, including fossil fuel exploration and illegal logging, are threatening to destroy the valuable habitats, the conservation charity WWF said on Wednesday.
A variety of birds, frogs, and crocodiles can be spotted while cruising the mangrove-lined Daintree River. Photo: David Wall/Dinodia
Unique to Australia, the flightless cassowary bird lives a solitary existence for most of its life. It is integral to the survival of many of the plants of this rainforest. Photo: CCOPhotostockBS/Dinodia
The list of the World Heritage Sites, as recognized by UNESCO, is a goldmine of history, natural and cultural patrimony. It tells of places and cultures that warrant a second look, an effort to better understand them. And of all the geography the list covers, there’s only one place where two Heritage Sites meet: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
Ta Keo temple in Angkor, Cambodia. Source : China, Singapore, CC BY-SA
The idea of creating an international movement for protecting heritage emerged after World War I. The 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage developed from the merging of two separate movements: the first focusing on the preservation of cultural sites, and the other dealing with the conservation of nature. But what comes with the World Heritage tag?
The Okavango Delta is home to the largest-remaining elephant population and keystone populations of lion, hyena, giraffe and lechwe antelopes. It’s the size of Texas, and visible from space. PHOTO: James Kydd
What can one man do towards protecting the wild? For starters, your efforts could center around saving Africa’s last remaining wetland wilderness. Then, you could be so relentless in your mission that UNESCO includes your ‘battleground’ in its World Heritage List. Then, you keep at your preservation project until you meet the Minister of Environment and get him to sign a pact on protecting the river system. If that all sounds good to you, allow us to introduce explorer Steve Boyes who has done all of the above and pledged his life to the conservation of the Okavango River Delta.
Located in northern Botswana, this untouched 18,000 square kilometer alluvial fan is the largest of its kind, and is supplied by the world’s largest undeveloped river catchment — the mighty Kavango Basin. The Okavango Delta is home to the largest-remaining elephant population and keystone populations of lion, hyena, giraffe and lechwe antelopes. It’s the size of Texas, and visible from space.
Some snapshots of my Ethiopian expedition, just ended, are in order; not of the national parks which were the main purpose of the expedition–more on which later–but from the visit to the north which is where most visitors to Ethiopia currently make a sort of pilgrimage for reasons you can understand looking at these snapshots.
It would be difficult for any photo to do justice to this wonder, a church created by men 1,000 years ago by carving down into the stone mountain. But words are even less helpful for reasons you can probably best understand by seeing another view of the same, following what the UNESCO World Heritage Centre has to say about this and the other churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia:
…The churches were not constructed in a traditional way but rather were hewn from the living rock of monolithic blocks. These blocks were further chiselled out, forming doors, windows, columns, various floors, roofs etc. This gigantic work was further completed with an extensive system of drainage ditches, trenches and ceremonial passages, some with openings to hermit caves and catacombs…
As impressive as those craters in Siberia may be, they pale compared to what man can do when he is sufficiently motivated, which may be the one source of hope for addressing the challenges of climate change (one of the seemingly impossible challenges of our own time). This modern challenge, now that I think of it, seems particularly well-suited to the beliefs many hold, across various religious traditions, about the saint who is the namesake of this particular church.
Guest Author: Nicole Kravec
Indiana Jones would be proud of the entire scientific expedition team. For two weeks we trekked through the jungles of Malaysia’s Imbak Canyon, the “biological gene bank” in the heart of the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo. It was one of the best – and most adventurous – trips of my life.