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UNESCO

Mount Etna granted World Heritage status

Italy's Mount Etna, one of the world's most "active and iconic" volcanoes, was on Friday granted World Heritage status by UNESCO. The volcano, in the east of Sicily, is one of the most-studied in the world.

Mount Etna granted World Heritage status
Photo: Jonathan Edgecombe/Flickr

The tallest active volcano on the European continent at 3,300 metres Mount Etna has been written about for 2,700 years and has "one of the world's longest documented records of historical volcanism," according to UNESCO.

"The diverse and accessible assemblage of volcanic features such as summit craters, cinder cones, lava flows, lava caves and the Valle de Bove depression have made Mount Etna a prime destination for research and education," UNESCO said.

The volcano, in the east of Sicily, is one of the most-studied in the world and "continues to influence volcanology, geophysics and other earth science disciplines", UNESCO added.

"Mount Etna's notoriety, scientific importance, and cultural and educational value are of global significance."

Situated near Catania, Sicily's second city, the volcano, which is some 200 kilometres in circumference, was created by a series of eruptions beneath the sea off the ancient coastline of Sicily some 500,000 years ago.

There are still periodic eruptions at the central crater. Lava flows down the sides of the volcano have sometimes put villages, which are built up to the some 800 metre altitude mark, at risk.

Catania city has been hit several times during eruptions, including being almost completely destroyed by one of the largest recorded eruptions in 1669, after which it was rebuilt in the Baroque style.

The zone listed by UNESCO – largely undeveloped except for a few seismic monitoring stations and some shelters along mountain paths – is part of the Mount Etna National Park, created in 1987.

UNESCO is currently holding a 10-day annual meeting in Phnom Penh at which is considering whether to add 31 sites, including Japan's Mount Fuji and the city of Agadez in Niger, to the 962-strong World Heritage List of sites of "outstanding universal value".

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UNESCO

Venice may be put on Unesco endangered list if cruise ships not banned

The UN art heritage agency has said it may put Venice on its ‘endangered’ list if the lagoon city does not permanently ban cruise ships from docking there.

Venice may be put on Unesco endangered list if cruise ships not banned
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The Italian lagoon city, along with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the city of Budapest, and Liverpool’s waterfront may be put on the list of “World Heritage in Danger,” meaning they risk being removed from Unesco’s prestigious list of world heritage sites completely.

Unesco said on Monday the issue will be discussed at a meeting of its World Heritage Committee, which oversees the coveted accolade, in Fuzhou, China, on July 16-31.

It “would be a very serious thing for our country” if Venice was removed, said Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini on Monday.

READ ALSO: ‘More local, more authentic’: How can Italy move toward responsible tourism in future?

The MSC Orchestra cruise ship arrives in Venice on June 3rd, 2021. Photo: ANDREA PATTARO/AFP

Participants at the China meeting will make the final decision on the deletion and warning proposals, and the agency could demand urgent action on cruise ships from the Italian government by next February.

There has long been concern about the impact of cruise ships on the city’s delicate structures and on the lagoon’s fragile ecosystem.

READ ALSO: Hundreds demonstrate against cruise ships’ return to Venice

The Italian government appeared to have passed a ban on cruise ships docking in Venice earlier this year – but the giant vessels continue to arrive in the city.

The government’s decree in fact did not constitute an immediate ban.

Instead, it said a plan for docking cruise ships outside Venice’s lagoon must be drawn up and implemented.

In the meantime, the ships will continue sailing through the lagoon and docking at the city’s industrial port, which has been the landing site for them since last December.

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