The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has designated 25 cultural heritage sites around the world that are the most in need of being preserved, according to a new report that was published on Monday.
For more than two decades, the nonprofit group has released a biannual list of at-risk locales that are threatened by a range of impacts from environmental factors to warfare to tourism. The sites selected that are in need of immediate preservation efforts range across places like Beirut and Benghazi to Texas and Cambodia.
Historic urban centers in the Lebanese city of Beirut, which suffered damage from a devastating explosion in 2020, and in Libya, where the country’s second most populous city of Benghazi has been ravaged due to ongoing warfare in the region, were each flagged as being most in need of rebuilding amid efforts to rehabilitate those locales from crises.
The organization has also flagged historic sites in the United States, Cambodia, and Australia with links to Indigenous groups that face threats of development. In Texas, Garcia Pasture, the ancestral land of Comecrudo Tribe in the southern part of the state, is vulnerable to natural resource extraction by private businesses. Unmapped territories linked to the Bunong people in Camdobia’s eastern Mondulkiri province also face threats of development without legal protections.
Sites that are most endangered as sea levels rise because of climate change include religious sites like the Mosque City of Bagerhat in Bangladesh and the Koagannu Mosques and Cemetery in the Maldives. Other locations in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley and the Yanacancha-Huaquis district of Peru are key water resources in need of maintenance.
Calling on global authorities to seek official protections for these sites, Bénédicte de Montlaur, president and CEO of World Monuments Fund, described them as, “an incredible resource for addressing larger issues facing society as well as local needs of recognition, access, participation, and economic opportunity.”
The 2022 list comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to escalate, which has already caused damage to regional history museums and memorials. Citing a 1954 convention that calls for the protection of cultural property during armed conflicts, the WMF said in a statement, “We urge that all precautions be taken to protect lives and avoid irreparable harm to cultural heritage in the region.”