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DUAL WORLD HERITAGE STATUS FOR UNIQUE SCOTTISH ISLANDS

In July 2005, St Kilda, owned and managed by The National Trust for Scotland, has become one of only two-dozen global locations to be awarded 'mixed' World Heritage Status for its natural and cultural significance. Following the preparation of an extended Comparative Analysis , the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, meeting in Durban, South Africa, has accepted the extension to the existing marine and terrestrial natural heritage World Heritage inscriptions. The inscription will now include the 'cultural landscape' left by thousands of years of human occupation. The Nomination was prepared on behalf of the UK Government by the Scottish Executive and the St Kilda Strategic Management Group.


Comparing the incomparable: St Kilda's world-class cultural landscape

In July 2004, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee asked the UK Government to produce a Comparative Analysis for the cultural landscape of St Kilda, which would help demonstrate that St Kilda is of 'outstanding universal value' and therefore worthy of additional inscription on the World Heritage List for its cultural qualities. This document, along with Cultural Heritage Extract (7MB pdf) of the Renomination Document, was submitted to the World Heritage Centre in December 2004, and the Committee, following advice from ICOMOS, has agreed to extend St Kilda's World Heritage inscription on the World Heritage List so that it is now recognised for both its natural and cultural qualities.

The interesting process of producing the Comparative Analysis was the subject of a lecture by Robin Turner, NTS Head of Archaeology, at the international conference on cultural landscapes held in Newcastle, England, in April 2004. The paper was entitled 'Comparing the Incomparable'


St Kilda World Heritage Bid Submitted

After more than 18 months of research, consultation and preparation, a dossier was submitted on 1 February 2003 to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris which its authors hope will lead to the extension of St Kilda's World Heritage Site status to include the marine environment and the cultural landscape.


Latest News, July 05

In July 2005 the St Kilda World Heritage Site was awarded Dual World Heritage Status for its natural and cultural significance. Following the preparation of an extended Comparative Analysis, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, meeting in Durban, South Africa, accepted the extension to the existing marine and terrestrial natural heritage World Heritage inscriptions. The inscription will now include the 'cultural landscape' left by thousands of years of human occupation.


The front cover of the Revised Nomination Document. Click to open the document A comprehensive and stunningly illustrated Nomination Document, which sets out why St Kilda is of 'outstanding universal value' and how the island group is cared for, was the key document considered by UNESCO. The report was prepared by experts in the natural and cultural heritage of St Kilda, and has now been translated to the web on this website as well as in printed form or as a PDF format download (3.5MB, approx 15 mins with 56k modem).

The submission, by the Scottish Executive on behalf of the UK Government, also included a final version of the Management Plan for the extended World Heritage Site. This describes in detail the key features that make St Kilda so special, and sets out the principles of management over the next few years. This too is now available for public consultation on the web and in hard copy (from Lorraine Bell at the National Trust for Scotland).

In his foreword to the Nomination, First Minister Jack McConnell said:

"Few who have been to St Kilda and stood in the Village surrounded by the cries of a million sea-birds can fail to have been moved by the place and its story. This tiny Hebridean archipelago is a place of drama, a place apart. Its inaccessibility amplifies its remoteness creating a perception of being 'at the edge of the world'.

"While the steep cliffs and pounding seas around the archipelago give a sense of the overwhelming power of nature, the very visible remains of human habitation can only fill the visitor with a sense of awe and respect for past generations of inhabitants.

"St Kilda stands for isolated societies the world over. The extraordinary spirit of the place comes from the imprint left after the ultimate failure, largely through external pressures, of a way of life. The twin aspects - a people's resilience in a hostile environment, and the contrasting fragility of traditional ways of life in the face of overwhelming social and economic change - give the place its emotional power and universal applicability.

"It is because of these reasons that I commend this revised nomination for the inscription of St Kilda on the World Heritage List to ensure it is cared for and preserved for future generations."

There are only 24 places in the world with joint natural and cultural heritage inscription as World Heritage Sites. This highlights just how special St Kilda is in international terms. Dual World Heritage Site status places St Kilda on a par with Ayers Rock in Australia, Mount Athos in Greece and the ancient Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru.

Both the Nomination Document and the Management Plan are the product of extensive partnership working between a diverse group of key organisations with a major stake in the well-being of the World Heritage Site, including: the Scottish Executive; the National Trust for Scotland who own St Kilda; Scottish Natural Heritage; Historic Scotland; Western Isles Council; the Joint Nature Conservation Committee; and the Department of Trade and Industry.

© The National Trust for Scotland