Turks and Caicos Weekly News. July 9, 2010
Salt islands’ bid for World Heritage status
By Gemma Handy
THE SALT islands could soon be ranked alongside the Pyramids, Taj Mahal and Statue of Liberty if an application to have them named a World Heritage site is successful.
National Trust chiefs say they are “optimistic” of success on account of the myriad bird life and endemic heather found in the islands – along with their huge cultural and historical value.
The area encompassing Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos and surrounding cays is one of 38 sites in the UK and its territories submitted for inclusion this year.
The salt islands will compete to be shortlisted by the British Government which plans to submit a tentative list of sites to Unesco next year with a view to making nominations in 2012.
Also up for consideration is England’s stunning Lake District, the city of Blackpool, famous for its illuminations, and fellow overseas territory St Helena in the Atlantic, where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled after the Battle of Waterloo.
To be named a World Heritage Site, of which there are currently 890 across the globe, the salt islands must be deemed to be of “outstanding universal value”.
The Trust’s previous bid a decade ago for Salt Cay alone was unsuccessful.
Executive director, Ethlyn Gibbs-Williams, told the Weekly News: “This time we included more of the country, emphasising its cultural and historic value along with the habitat it provides for a range of migratory birds.
“Salt Cay also has the largest population of heather, our national flower.
“If the salt islands were to become a World Heritage Site, it would award them far more protection and really give the country recognition.”
Ms Gibbs-Williams said Trust chiefs were looking forward to welcoming a committee to the islands to see their special value for themselves.
“I feel optimistic because there really is nowhere else in the world similar to the area we entered.
“This would mean so much for the Turks & Caicos if we were to be successful,” she added.
In addition to being the epicentre of the country’s once roaring salt industry, Salt Cay in particular is a mecca for birds including doves, warblers, mockingbirds, herons, kingfishers, sandpipers, kestrels, ospreys, flamingoes and egrets.
Britain’s Tourism and Heritage Minister, John Penrose, published the list of 38 submissions on Wednesday, saying: “The UK's heritage is world class and this list represents the unique variety and history present in all corners of this country and our overseas territories.
“We wanted a strong and varied list to eventually put to Unesco and I'm delighted that so many wonderful, diverse places have been put forward.
“What all 38 sites have in common is a wow factor and a cultural resonance that makes them real contenders to sit alongside the Pyramids and Red Square in this most distinguished of gatherings.”
World Heritage status sets planning restrictions for developers in terms of the height and quality of new buildings in a designated area and protects views of the listed landmarks.
There are currently 27 listed sites in the UK and its territories. Locations in the overseas territories include the wildlife sanctuaries of Henderson Island, in the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific, and Gough and the Inaccessible Islands in the Atlantic. Also designated is the historic town of St George, Bermuda’s first capital.
Above article reproduced from Turks and Caicos Weekly News. July 9, 2010.