Preserving and promoting values of Trang An landscape complex

Sunday, 2016-12-11 09:05:15
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Trang An landscape complex
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NDO - The Trang An landscape complex was officially recognised as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 2014 and the first mixed natural and cultural heritage in Vietnam and Southeast Asia area. The title has helped to improve the image and tourism brand name of Ninh Binh province in particular and Vietnam in general, contributing to the development of the province into a large tourism centre of the Red River Delta and the country.

The karst tower landscape of Trang An is among the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places of its kind anywhere in the world. Dominating the landscape is a spectacular array of cone-shaped rock towers whose sheer vertical walls rise 200m above the surrounding land and water. Narrow interconnecting ridges, which have been likened to mythical giant swords, enclose circular and linear depressions whose expansive waterways are linked by gently flowing streams winding through subterranean caverns up to one kilometre in length.

Dense rain forest covers the landscape, even clinging to the cliffs and peaks. Blending in naturally and beautifully with the forests are the extensive rice paddy fields bordering the rivers, creating a picturesque patchwork of colour, enlivened by the presence of local farmers and fishermen engaged in their traditional way of life. Several historic temples and pagodas, some perched high on the valley walls and peaks, signify the important spiritual and religious associations with the landscape. The countryside of the surrounding buffer zone presents a picture of traditional rural life with gardens and fields among small villages linked by simple tracks, narrow roads and a network of streams and canals.

Trang An displays the final stages of karst tower landscape evolution in a humid tropical environment. The product of deep dissection of an uplifted limestone massif over a period of millions years is a remarkable array of classical karst landforms, including cones and towers, depressions, valleys, rockfall collapse structures and deposits, subterranean caverns, rivers and caves. A network of cross-cutting parallel faults divides the area into cells and promotes the development of enclosed depressions. An altitudinal series of erosional notches in the rock walls along with associated caves, wave-cut platforms, beach deposits and marine shells is evidence of the former sea level.

Exploration of some of the highest altitude caves dotted across the landscape has revealed archaeological traces of human activity dating back almost 30,000 years, which illustrates the occupation of these mountains by hunter-gatherers, and how they adapted to climatic and environmental changes. Around 23,000 years ago, some prehistoric cultures evolved in the region, from the Stone Age to the Iron and Bronze Age. Not only serving as a cradle of civilisation of ancient Vietnamese, Trang An also used to house the first capital of the Vietnamese feudal and independent state, Hoa Lu, in the 10th century.

After being honoured as a world heritage, the management board of Trang An landscape complex has effectively implemented regulations of the law and UNESCO Convention on managing and preserving world heritage. Ninh Binh province has also raised awareness of staff and local people on preserving and promoting heritage’s value. The province has also focused on managing science and developing tourism, ensuring security, order and environmental sanitation that help to attract visitors to Trang An complex. In the first 11 months of 2016, the number of tourists to Ninh Binh reached 6.5 million, up 29 percent year-on-year.

At the 40th Session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO held in Turkey from July 10 to 17 and France from October 24 to 26, the Committee approved the proposed minor boundary modification of Trang An Landscape Complex. Vietnam was also appreciated for its progress in enhancing the management of the site, including work to complete the management plan and encourages the State Party and its property managers to continue the work, in close partnership with the local communities.

The management board of Trang An landscape complex has co-operated with domestic and international authorities in supporting research and publishing scientific projects on archaeology, geology, geomorphology and biological diversity. Meanwhile, the management board has coordinated with press agencies, travel agencies and film studios in promoting the image and value of the site as well as tourism products to attract visitors to Trang An complex.