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The 3 places in the world to be stripped of their UNESCO World Heritage status

The announcement today that Liverpool is being stripped of its World Heritage status will come as a huge disappointment to people throughout Merseyside and beyond. But did you know that this is not the first time the UN has used its powers to strip a site of its World Heritage status? Since UNESCO World Heritage List began in 1978, there have been three places that have been awarded UESCO World Heritage status, only to have it later withdrawn. They are as follows: Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, Oman – awarded in 1994, revoked in 2007 Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary holds the dubious distinction of being the first ever site to be removed from UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Sitting within the Central Desert and Coastal Hills biogeographical regions of Oman, the sanctuary’s unique climate of seasonal fogs and dews support a diverse range of flora and fauna, mostly notably – as the name suggests – including the first free-ranging herd of Arabian oryx since the species was declared extinct in the wild in 1972. Sadly, subsequent poaching and a degradation of the sanctuary’s habitat almost wiped out the herd entirely. Furthermore, the sanctuary was reduced by 90% after the discovery of oil at the site, and the removal of the designation came in 2007 at the request of the Oman government, with just four breeding pairs of oryx counted at that time. The total herd number went from 450 to just 65 during this time. More recently, a new effort at a sanctuary to protect the species has been more successful with numbers of this Arabian “unicorn” going from 300 to about 850 in just three years. Dresden Elbe Valley, Germany – awarded in 2004, revoked in 2009 The 20-kilometre stretch of the Elbe River through Dresden in Germany’s state capital of Saxony, known as the Dresden Elbe Valley, has huge scenic and architectural value, and the Baroque skyline and picturesque river has inspired many a poet. It was the construction of the Waldschlösschen Bridge river crossing, however, which was seen as highly controversial, that brought about the removal of World Heritage status. The intention of the bridge was to remedy Dresden’s inner-city traffic congestion but came at the expense of being only the second location in the world to be delisted by the UN. Liverpool, UK – awarded in 2004, revoked in 2021 Liverpool gained its World Heritage Site status based on its historic waterfront and the city was a crucial hub during the heights of the British Empire. Developments such as the new Premiership football ground for Everton FC in the Bramley-Moore Dock area has been deemed a “serious deterioration” of the historic site. A meeting held in China, 20 votes were cast – with 13 in favour of removing the city’s status, five against the proposal and two ballot papers being invalid – was enough to seal Liverpool’s fate. The UN even has a ‘Danger List’ of other sites whose World Heritage status is also under threat. There are more than fifty of them and they are as follows: Afghanistan Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (2003) Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (2002) Austria Historic Centre of Vienna (2017) Bolivia (Plurinational State of) City of Potosí (2014) Central African Republic Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (1997) Côte d’Ivoire Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (1992) * Democratic Republic of the Congo Garamba National Park (1996) Kahuzi-Biega National Park (1997) Okapi Wildlife Reserve (1997) Salonga National Park (1999) Virunga National Park (1994) Egypt Abu Mena (2001) Guinea Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (1992) * Honduras Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (2011) Indonesia Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (2011) Iraq Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) (2003) Hatra (2015) Samarra Archaeological City (2007) Jerusalem (Site proposed by Jordan) Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (1982) Kenya Lake Turkana National Parks (2018) Libya Archaeological Site of Cyrene (2016) Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (2016) Archaeological Site of Sabratha (2016) Old Town of Ghadamès (2016) Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (2016) Madagascar Rainforests of the Atsinanana (2010) Mali Old Towns of Djenné (2016) Timbuktu (2012) Tomb of Askia (2012) Mexico Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (2019) Micronesia (Federated States of) Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (2016) Niger Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (1992) Palestine Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (2017) Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (2014) Panama Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (2012) Peru Chan Chan Archaeological Zone (1986) Senegal Niokolo-Koba National Park (2007) Serbia Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (2006) Solomon Islands East Rennell (2013) Syrian Arab Republic Ancient City of Aleppo (2013) Ancient City of Bosra (2013) Ancient City of Damascus (2013) Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (2013) Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (2013) Site of Palmyra (2013) Uganda Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (2010) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (2012) United Republic of Tanzania Selous Game Reserve (2014) United States of America Everglades National Park (2010) Uzbekistan Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (2016) Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) Coro and its Port (2005) Yemen Historic Town of Zabid (2000) Old City of Sana’a (2015) Old Walled City of Shibam (2015)

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. If expulsion from the UNESCO list is the red card and a place on the “Danger List” is the yellow card, then I think there’s many a place that had been given a quiet warning by the UNESCO referee and told to get their act together. Probably best not to name names otherwise my lawyer will be more busy than I’d like.

  2. There’s that old saying that any publicity’s good publicity. You’ve got to ask whether Liverpool will thrive as the bad boy thrown out of UNESCO?

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