Thursday, 11 August 2011

UNESCO report

Thanks also to Didier Daimonax for posting to our FB page a link to the recent UNESCO report on the condition of Pompeii. What follows here is the Executive Summary and List of Recommendations. To read the full report, follow this link.

The joint ICOMOS/UNESCO mission to the World Heritage property of Pompei, Herculaneum was invited by the Italian government following the collapse of the Schola Armaturarum on the night of 5-6 November 2010. Because of adverse weather conditions, the mission took place in two parts. The ICOMOS experts visited from 1 to 5 December, and the UNESCO expert was on site from 10 to 13 January. The mission visited all three parts of the World Heritage property and examined the overall state of conservation as well as the specific collapse. This report has been produced jointly by the mission members.

The mission found that the Schola Armaturarum had collapsed following the heaviest rainfall in 80 years. The building is adjacent to an unexcavated portion of the site which encouraged waterlogging. It had been weakened by bombing in World War II and had then been given a heavy and inappropriate reinforced concrete roof. The mission did not consider that the collapse of the Schola, in itself, has had a significant impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property but agreed that further deterioration across the property could lead to significant damage to attributes that sustain the Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity in a few years.

Overall, the mission found that much of the property was in a good state of repair. They were concerned however by the poor state of maintenance of parts of the enormous site of Pompei and by the number of houses and other structures and requiring major conservation work at both Pompei and Herculaneum. They were also concerned by the gradual deterioration of wall paintings, mosaic floors and other decorative features. While some decay is inevitable in an exposed ruin, the mission considered that conditions were being exacerbated by excessive moisture and lack of routine maintenance. They were also concerned by the amount of plant growth, particularly ivy, in some places at Pompei, though elsewhere this is being vigorously tackled. Some of these structures are at risk and need urgent intervention. Generally, the backlog of maintenance at Pompei needs to be tackled urgently. Equally, drainage needs to be improved so that rain and ground water are readily and rapidly removed to prevent the damage being caused by waterlogging of the ground and by rising and penetrating damp in standing structures.

The mission considered that visitor management was an issue both in terms of potential erosion and in terms of increasing their enjoyment and education. They recognised that advances had been made both in terms of interpretation, arrangements for access and through the increasing number of houses which had been restored to permit access. However, these advances are to some extent negated by the lack of custodians which means that large parts of both Pompei and Herculaneum are not accessible to visitors on a regular basis. The mission considered that the development of a public use plan as part of the overall management system for the property could help the development of a more integrated approach to visitor management.

The mission fully recognises the skill and devotion of the staff of the Superintendency to their site. However, there are insufficient skilled professional staff to manage what needs to be done and they are entirely dependent on contractors for carrying out the necessary work. The mission believes that this has been exacerbated by diverting scarce resources to non-urgent projects such as the restoration of the theatre at Pompei. It is also probable that staff have been distracted by institutional instability over the last three years or so.

The mission was also concerned that there is no clear definition of the Outstanding Universal Value for the property to provide a base-line for effective management and conservation. There are also no measures for monitoring the condition of the property. Apart from Herculaneum there appeared to be an inadequate information base since the Geographic Information System (GIS) for Pompei contains no data from later than 2002. Pompei does have a Management Plan but it did not seem to be used as an effective tool for planning and driving management decisionmaking at the site. There is a need for a clearer focus on these issues and on focusing all efforts on key priorities. At Herculaneum the joint project between the Superintendency and the Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP) has done much to eliminate the maintenance backlog there. With the life of the project drawing to a close, it is essential that the good practices developed there are closely studied by the Superintendency and adopted as far as possible across the property.

The mission concluded that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property had not yet been significantly compromised. However there are a considerable number of buildings at risk and a major backlog of conservation. If these are not tackled rapidly and urgently, there could be a significant risk to Outstanding Universal Value in the next few years. The mission also considers that more may need to be done to protect the visual setting of the property, particularly the vital visual links to Mount Vesuvius. The mission considers therefore that a further mission should visit the property within the next two years and that the World Heritage Committee should examine the state of conservation of the property again in 2013 to assess whether its condition has improved or worsened.

The Mission has made a number of recommendations which fall into four groups:

A. Immediate measures to improve conservation and maintenance
B. Measures to maintain and enhance the skills base and provide necessary information
C. Measures to improve the management of site and understanding of OUV
D. Follow-up action by UNESCO
A. Immediate measures to improve conservation and maintenance

Recommendation 1: The mission recommends that priority in work programmes should be given to dealing with the maintenance backlog at the property, the restoration of those buildings identified as being at risk by the mission together with any others identified in the condition survey carried out by the Superintendency.

Recommendation 2: The creation of effective drainage systems, particularly at Pompei, should be carried out as soon as possible to remove one of the basic causes of decay. As well as dealing with ground drainage, as far as possible rain should be prevented from entering roofed structures.

B. Measures to maintain and enhance the skills base and provide necessary information

Recommendation 3: The mission recommends that all contractors should be assessed for their ability to carry out skilled conservation work before they are allowed to tender for conservation work in the World Heritage property.

Recommendation 4: The Superintendency and Ministry of Culture should determine how many technical staff are required to carry out an effective programme to eradicate the current backlog of conservation and maintenance and should take steps to provide those resources as soon as possible.

Recommendation 5: The mission recommends the Superintendency and the Ministry of Culture to provide sufficient custody staff at Pompei, as a matter of urgency, to enable more of the property to be opened to the public in order to spread the visitor load and improve visitors’ understanding of the site. This should be an essential element of the public use plan proposed in Recommendation 12.

Recommendation 6: The GIS for Pompei should be updated with all relevant information and kept up-to-date so that it can be used as a basic tool for the conservation and management of the site.

Recommendation 7: The Superintendency should plan with the HCP for the takeover in due course of the Herculaneum GIS and be resourced for its future maintenance and use as a basic tool for the conservation and management of the site.

Recommendation 8: The Superintendency with, if possible, support from the HCP should develop common standards for GIS in use within the Vesuvian group of monuments to enable easy exchange of data and regular updating as a basis for improved information management.
C. Measures to improve management of site and understanding of OUV

Recommendation 9: The Italian Government is recommended to submit a full Statement of Outstanding Universal Value by 1 February 2012 for consideration and adoption by the World Heritage Committee as the basis for the future management of the property in accordance with Decision 34 COM 10B.3 of the World Heritage Committee.

Recommendation 10: The Superintendency should develop and implement a set of simple monitoring measures for the condition and use of the site and should have these in place by 1 February 2012 and submit them for review by ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre.

Recommendation 11: The Ministry of Culture is recommended to maintain institutional stability within the Special Superintendency in order to allow it to focus on managing and conserving the site as its main priority.

Recommendation 12: The Superintendency should review the Management Plan with other stakeholders and the Ministry of Culture to identify ways in which it can be used more effectively as a tool for the effective conservation and management of the property. The Management Plan should include public use and risk management plans. The Italian Government should report on progress on this by 1 February 2013.

Recommendation 13: The Superintendency, the Packard Humanities Institute and the British School at Rome, as the partners in the Herculaneum Conservation Project agreed and are implementing a phased programme over the next few years for withdrawal by the Project which enables the Superintendency to continue to implement the approaches developed, particularly in the area of programmed maintenance. The Ministry and the Superintendency must guarantee their commitment to this programme. Ideally, the private partners should follow the phased handover for conservation works with some form of light support for a number of years to favour the commitment to the improved management and conservation approaches by the public authority at Herculaneum (but perhaps also at the other sites in it is care), particularly in a period when the management system for these sites might be subject to change.

Recommendation 14: It is recommended that measures for the effective protection of the visual setting of the property, particularly the visual links with Mount Vesuvius, should be reviewed and strengthened as necessary, possibly by the extension of the buffer zones.

D. Follow-up action by UNESCO
Recommendation 15: It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee should invite the State Party to submit a State of Conservation report for consideration at its 37th session in 2013, reporting on progress on the Recommendations made by the mission and the general state of conservation of the World Heritage property. It is further recommended that the State Party should be invited to request a joint ICOMOS/ UNESCO mission during 2012 in order to assist with this process.

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