Most people have heard of the UNESCO world heritage sites program, which aims to identify the best examples of cultural and wild places in the world and push governments to protect them. It does this by adding to the status of the site and encouraging tourists to visit them – the designation ‘World Heritage Site’ adds real kudos to a tourism destination.
There are currently 1031 world heritage sites, spread over 163 states; Turkey has 15 – you can see them on the blog ‘The rise and fall of Turkish ruins’. Since 2010, Turkey has been trying to push up the numbers, and has now 60 sites on the tentative list (awaiting approval). Next July, the meeting of the World Heritage Committee will take place in İstanbul, so this is a good time for Turkey to push for the recognition of more sites.
For a site to receive recognition, negotiation of the bureaucratic procedure starts with a Management Plan – since 2002, this has been mandatory. Most countries are playing catch-up, devising management plans for sites recognized before that date, so newly qualified graduates in Cultural Heritage Management have found career opportunities wide open.
The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry has just made grant fund of up to 50,000 euros available for Management Plans for those sites on the tentative lists.
One of those sites is ‘The Ancient Cities of Lycian Civilisation’. Of course, the Culture Routes Society in association with the Via Francegina and Akdeniz University has just applied. Notably, in spite of promising support for the Lycian Way during his election campaign, Antalya Greater Municipality Mayor refused to partner us in this program; the provincial Cultural and Tourism Manager also refused.
For 50,000 euros, making a management plan for about 50 ancient cities is pretty much impossible, so we chose to plan the management of the routes between the cities. Which just happens to overlap with much of the Lycian Way….
So, if we get this grant program, it gives us the opportunity to define and map the ancient roads, extend the Lycian Way, set up a management committee for the old roads, arrange their legal protection and establish at least the principle that funds should be available for their management and conservation. This worthwhile project could one day lead to recognition of the Lycian Way as a UNESCO World Heritage site. But the funding will only cover 90% of the costs, so we have to find at least 5,000 euros, and probably more.
We will learn in early 2016 if we have been awarded the funds – if you would like to make a donation or have ideas for fundraising for the extra cash, please let us know.