by Ľubica Pinčíková
World Heritage is defined in the Convention Concerning Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in the 1st article ‘cultural heritage’ and in the 2nd article ‘natural heritage’, which states:
For the purposes of this Convention, the following shall be considered as ‘cultural heritage‘:
monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;
groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;
sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from a historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological point of view.
For the purposes of this Convention, the following shall be considered as ‘natural heritage‘:
natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view;
geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation;
natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.
The basic property necessary for entry into the List of the World Heritage is that of outstanding universal value, ie the cultural or natural value of a monument, group of buildings or locality (hereafter properties) which is unique and exceeds national boundaries in terms of significance to such an extent that it becomes important for present and future generations of the whole of mankind. The permanent protection of such property and heritage is attributed the highest significance by the international community as a whole.
Member countries of the Convention can submit nominations of properties (cultural or natural) whenever they suppose that they possess outstanding and universal values.
CRITERIA USED TO EVALUATE THE OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE
These criteria for granting outstanding universal value were originally formally presented as two different sets of criteria, ie criteria (i)-(vi) on cultural heritage and criteria (vii)-(x) on natural heritage. The 6th extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee decided to merge these criteria into a single group.
The Committee considers a property as having outstanding universal value if the property meets one or more of the following criteria. It has to:
(i) represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
(ii) exhibit an important interchange of human values over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design;
(iii) bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared;
(iv) be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history;
(v) is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land use or sea use which is representative of a culture (or cultures) or human interaction with the environment, especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible changes;
(vi) be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance (the World Heritage Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
(vii) contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
(viii) be an outstanding example representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic and physiographic features;
(ix) be an outstanding example representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
(x) contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science and conservation.
Recognition of the universal value of property according to selected criteria must be connected with conditions of integrity and authenticity and with the corresponding protection and adequate system of management in order to secure its conservation. The state must ensure that adequate and sustainable use of the object will not adversely impact the unique universal value, integrity and authenticity of it.
The Slovak Republic currently has seven properties entered in the List of the World Heritage including five cultural heritage and two natural heritage properties:
Cultural heritage properties:
– Banská Štiavnica Historic Town and Surrounding Technical Monuments UNESCO World Heritage Site (entry in 1993),
– Levoča, Spiš Castle and its Associated Cultural Monuments UNESCO World Heritage Site (entry in 1993, expansion of the site in 2009),
– Vlkolínec Village UNESCO World Heritage Site (entry in 1993),
– Bardejov Town Conservation Reservation UNESCO World Heritage Site (entry in 2000),
– Wooden Churches of the Slovak Part of the Carpathian Mountain Area UNESCO World Heritage Site (entry in 2008).
Natural heritage properties:
– Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst World Heritage Site (1995) represents the joint natural heritage property of the Slovak Republic and Hungary and was extended to include the Dobšinská Ice Cave and the Stratená Cave in 1997
– Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians World Heritage Site and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany represent the joint Natural Heritage of the Slovak Republic and Ukraine (entry in 2007, expansion of the site in 2011).