The concepts of world natural and cultural heritage were launched in 1972. However, until 1992, the definition of “cultural landscape” was introduced by the UNESCO.
To be recognized as a world cultural landscape, nominated sites must satisfy six criteria for cultural heritage and four criteria for natural heritage. So far, only 28 sites in the world have been recognized as cultural landscape by the UNESCO.
“Some UNESCO’s experts advised us to seek this title,” said Mr. Nguyen Duc Long, director of the Trang An tourist site.
The file of Trang An will be sent to the UNESCO in September 2013. The result will be announced in 2014.
Long said that it is more highly possible for the site to be recognized as a cultural landscape, because there are only 28 cultural landscape sites in the world at present, compared to 725 cultural and 183 natural heritage sites.
The 10,000ha Trang An complex comprises three areas: Trang An ecological site, Tam Coc - Bich Dong and Hoa Lu ancient capital. The complex has been nominated as a natural heritage site.
Last August, a 300-member UNESCO delegation spent a whole day to discover Trang An grotto system, which is evaluated to meet two criteria on global outstanding values of world heritage in terms of aesthetics and geology-geomorphology.
With a total area of 2,168 ha, surrounded by limestone mountains, lakes and caves, Trang An ecological site is constantly referred as “Ha Long Bay on land” and “an outdoor geological museum”. There are 500 different plants, 73 species of birds, 41 species of animals and 31 reptile species within the site. The stripe-neck musk turtle, which is considered to be rare and in need of protection, is also a resident here.
In addition, ancient relics of prehistoric man, from 5,000 to 30,000 years ago, were found in caves such as cave Bui and cave Trong. Historic sites such as the temples dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Le Dai Hanh, Dong and Den bridges and traces of the citadel ancient walls are still preserved with the legendary feeling of Hoa Lu.
According to professor, Dr. Do Van Tru, General Secretary of the Vietnam Cultural Heritage Association, archeological remains on the site date back in the prehistoric age and have been maintained in Trang An's grottos. Those remains reflect human development history and the history of global climate change and regional environmental evolution. Scientists have discovered remains of prehistoric people dating back from 5,000 to 30,000 years ago in Boi, Trong, Thung Binh caves and Hang Cho Mountain and Ong Hay Mountain.
Mr. Tru compared Trang An as an open air geological museum. Diverse geological characteristics are the result of millions of years of geological changes. The sea was transformed into imposing mountains and limestone outcrops which changed into more than 500 caves and grottos dating back from 6,000 to 32 million years ago.
Trang An has abundant and unique fauna and flora both on land and water. The terrestrial ecosystem includes 600 types of flora and 200 types of fauna; many of which are listed on the Vietnamese Red Book of endangered species. The marine ecosystem include many valuable animals such as the strip necked tortoise. With untouched imposing limestone grottos, beautiful valleys and underground rivers, Trang An has great potential for tourism development. Phuong Linh