International environment groups yesterday issued a declaration calling for more action to preserve the world's heritage sites in the face of increasing tourism and development.
The declaration marked the end of a three-day International Conference on World Natural Heritage at the sacred Buddhist mountain of Emei in Sichuan Province
More than 400 representatives from groups including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Conservation Union, Conservation International, and national and local governments from more than 30 countries took part in the first such session to be held in the country.
The groups called for restraint on construction, to preserve the authenticity and integrity of heritage sites for future generations.
The declaration asked for more respect for the cultural tradition, natural environment and lifestyles of local communities in the face of tourism development.
It also appealed for greater publicity of World Heritage Sites to give more people a shared interest and stake in the protection and preservation of heritage sites.
The secretary-general of the National Committee of UNESCO in China, Tian Xiaogang, said the session aimed at exploring an effective long-term mechanism for the conservation of World Natural Heritage assets, and promoting the harmonious co-existence of man and nature through cooperation and the exchange of management experiences.
A proseminar was also held during the session to discuss the application for the inclusion of the country's Five Mountains and the Danxia Topography on the World Natural and Cultural Heritage List.
Chinese experts and their counterparts from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, England, the United States and Poland who made on-the-spot investigations highly praised the two admissions and thought their application stood a high chance of success, said Wang Zhiguang, deputy director of the Hunan provincial department of construction.
Known for their natural beauty, the attractions are also symbols of Chinese civilization. In ancient times, emperors would scale them to hold sacrificial ceremonies while commoners worshipped them, too.
Danxia, which means "red cloud," refers to a distinctive red sandstone land formation. The Danxia Topography itself is scattered in 708 sites in the country, mainly in mountains in Hunan, Guangdong
The applications of both projects will be submitted formally to the Ministry of Construction next year, said Wang Fengwu, an official with the ministry.
The conference was organized by the Construction Ministry, the National Committee of UNESCO in China and the Sichuan provincial government, with support from the UNESCO World Heritage Center.