Application to UNESCO for Inscription on the World Heritage List by Macao SAR
Application to UNESCO for Inscription on
the World Heritage List by Macao SAR

The uncertainty of government attitude towards buffer zone can be seen from the changing of law within a short period of time.

Established in 2005 since the UNESCO nomination, the building height restriction was not set till 2008 triggered by the Guia lighthouse event. This regulation is also initiated by the public who complained to UNESCO. In 2014 the buffer zones become a recommendation instead of mandatory, approved by the The Legislative Assembly. (Nunes,2013)

In addition, the size of this zone is unpredictable since there has never been a clear definition of how big the size would be. The heritages which waits for clarification has a temporary zone that cannot be developed for a year (from 2 years changed to 1 year in 2013 July). (Macaudailytime, 2013) The Authority proposed to leave it for future administrative decision but lawmakers wanted to” include it in the cultural heritage protection law to avoid “subjective” decisions on the zones that will include limitations on the activities near the heritage sites. “However, this is not settled.

Body in charge of management and execution is also confusing. Originally the Cultural Affairs Bureau should be responsible. However, the authorities have allowed the Bureau’s leader, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, to “personally oversee the job. “The secretary will also be the one in charge of decision on designation and execution of buffer zones. The third party is the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT), who is proposed to be the unit to evaluate construction works of great impact that maybe inappropriate to the buffer zone. DSSOPT is replacing the Cultural Institute in evaluation and the Cultural Institute can only interfere if the DSSOPT senses there is a construction work with great impact on the buffer zone.

The new definition of construction project prohibited in the buffer zone turned from “harm to the landscape and architectural framework of property” to “construction works of great impact”. (Nunes,2013)

Vizeu Pinheiro, an architect and assistant Professor of the Faculty of Creative Industries at University of St. Joseph in Macau, called these as “fictitious” buffer areas. He taught about the Macau Peninsula and stated that “The street that is the central axis of the historic corridor, joining A-Ma temple to Rua Central and Almeida Ribeiro, is overrun with housing towers”,(Nunes,2013)

Some also worried that this move may lead UNESCO to reconsider Macau’s situation, taking the warnings by the World Heritage Committee to the local government over the past years in mind. These warnings included “apparent inadequacy of the management system” of the Historic Centre of Macau. Some stated that “the main risk is the SAR being included on a blacklist where world heritage is put in danger”, in which the republic of China would be responsible since it joins the convention of UNESCO. (Nunes,2013)

“corridors to the sea, ensuring views and natural ventilation,” is the original principle for the setting up of buffer zone. UNESCO urged Macau to have a safeguard plan by 2015, marking the 10th anniversary. However, in the yearbook of Macau 2016 there is not a legislation mentioned but “raise citizens’ and tourists’ awareness of heritage conservation and cultural succession. “through cultural activities they organized for the 10th anniversary. The attitude is more of a reutilization of these heritage. A more solid guide for execution seems to be lacking before the move of development with preservation.

1 Kam Leong, Provisional buffer zone set up for municipal kennels, Macau Business Daily,December 23, 2015

Provisional buffer zone set up for municipal kennels

2 Macau Daily Time, Gov’t and lawmakers agree on buffer zone for heritage protection. July23 2013
3 Macau Daily Time, AL needs precise size for buffer zones around heritage sites. March20 2013
4 Oliver Martin. and Giovanna Piatti (Ed.), World Heritage paper 25. World Heritage and Buffer Zones, UNESCO, 2009
5 Sonia Nunes, An unprotected heritage, Living and art magazine, September 2013
6 Rieko Kubota. Issues of Buffer Zone management of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites Located in the urban area of East Asian countries, Ritsumeikan University, 2010

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