Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Director's Notes - March 2012

Monthly update from EWH Director Adam Wilkinson.

Mar 21, 2012

World Heritage Day is nearly upon us. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, created following the massive international effort to move the Temples of Abu Simbel out of harm’s way as the waters of the Nile rose behind the Aswan High Dam.

Since 1972, the concept of World Heritage has developed from the acknowledgement that some places are of such immense cultural value to mankind that they merit international recognition and efforts to ensure their conservation, into a holistic way of understanding and managing these special places.

Edinburgh’s small role in this, as one of 900 or so World Heritage Sites, is in trying to understand how else World Heritage can be used other than for what often appears to be its own ends, ensuring its long term survival. Increasingly we have been using World Heritage for educational purposes, but we have also been exploring its use for social inclusion and economic development. Consequently we are delighted to be marking the 40th anniversary with a joint event with the RSA, supported by the City of Edinburgh Council, with the aim of exploring the role World Heritage has to play in economic development. The event is open to all, and reservations can be made here.

The Action Plan for the World Heritage Site – the extension of last year’s Management Plan – has been completed and approved by all the relevant authorities. It is a broad document that tries to make sense of the plethora of initiatives underway in the city that benefit world heritage, while also including actions specific to the partners managing the World Heritage Site – EWH, the City of Edinburgh Council and Historic Scotland. It may seem ambitious, but we completed nearly all the actions in the last 5 year action plan.

One element within both the Management Plan and the Action Plan concerns understanding the impact of Climate Change, and we are delighted that our application to the Climate Challenge Fund for a three year programme, continuing Chiara Ronchini’s excellent work in this area, has been successful. This will allow an expansion of our current activities, linking the adaptation of historic buildings to supporting sustainable communities around the World Heritage Site and reducing fuel consumption.

Our conservation work continues apace as ever - those of you who wander along the Royal Mile will soon find themselves being looked down upon by a brace of dragons, sitting up above Wardrop's Court. The work of Patrick Geddes and an apprentice, they were in an increasingly bad state of repair, and it has been a pleasure to bring them back to garishly good health

Our work with the City of Edinburgh and the Fruitmarket Gallery on the Scotsman Steps has been recognised with a Civic Trust award, received by the architects McGregor Bowes and Haworth Tompkins. The project is also up for a Scottish Civic Trust 'My Place' and RIAS awards.

For a final treat, pop over to Waverley station some time. Towards the eastern end of the station, the sun is peeking through the clear, clean glass roof for the first time in ages, and in a sign of what is hopefully to come, the lovely cast iron capitals have been blinged up in gold. Long gone is the old Railtrack adage about drafty Victorian train sheds: this is a celebration of the railways and a huge relief compared to the oft-proposed alternative of a load of shops on a concrete deck over the lines.

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