UNESCO adds 8 sites to World Heritage List

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Friday decided to add eight properties to the U.N. agency's prestigious World Heritage List at its ongoing 37th session in the Cambodian capital.

The eight sites are Mt. Tianshan in China, the Hill Forts of Rajasthan in India, Italy's Mt. Etna, Mt. Kenya-Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, El Pinacate and Grando Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine, the Namib Sand Sea in Namibia, and Tajik National Park of Tajikistan.

The committee earlier Friday began discussion of nominations of 30 sites for world heritage recognition, including Japan's Mt. Fuji.

When asked when Mt. Fuji's nomination would be accepted, a senior Cambodia official in charge of UNESCO affairs told Kyodo News that discussions on Japan's highest peak will be held Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

In Tokyo, the Japanese government announced Friday that it had made a request to the committee to begin discussions on Mt. Fuji at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Mt. Fuji would be Japan's 17th World Heritage site if approved by the 21-member committee under the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The meeting will run until Thursday.

The Japanese government officially asked UNESCO in January last year to register Mt. Fuji, saying the 3,776-meter mountain has been viewed as a religious site and depicted in "ukiyoe" woodblock prints, and nurtured Japan's culture.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a UNESCO advisory panel known as ICOMOS, recommended in April that Mt. Fuji be listed, but said the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove, which Japan had sought to include as part of the asset, must be excluded, citing its 45-kilometer distance from the mountain.

The Japanese government initially sought to also register the ancient city Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, on the list, but it decided earlier this month to drop the recommendation as ICOMOS rejected the request and it would otherwise be unable to try again.

At the meeting, the World Heritage Committee will examine properties around the globe for listing under natural, cultural or mixed natural and cultural categories.

World Heritage now lists 962 cultural and natural properties that the committee considers as having outstanding universal value.