Yen Tu application for UNESCO recognition to be completed this year
Update: Jan 25, 2022
The three northern provinces of Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, and Bac Giang will complete a scientific dossier seeking UNESCO world heritage recognition for Yen Tu Monuments and Landscapes Complex by July of this year.

Part of the Yen Tu Monuments and Landscapes Complex. — Photo

This commitment was signed by the People’s Committees of all three provinces. They are to work together to finalise the initial nomination dossier and submit it to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) by July 30, 2022.

After making necessary revisions, the dossier will then be submitted to UNESCO for evaluation by September 30. The official dossier will then be sent to the Paris-headquartered organisation by December 31 this year.

The complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscapes covers over 30,000ha and is comprised of four clusters of special national historical relics: the Yen Tu historical relic and landscape area in Uong Bi City and the Tran Dynasty historical relic area, in Dong Trieu Town, both in Quang Ninh; the Tay (Western) Yen Tu relic and landscape area in Bac Giang, and the Con So – Kiep Bac complex in Hai Duong.

A large number of relics and landscapes in the complex, such as historical, architectural, artistic and archaeological relics, as well as scenic landscapes, have been recognised to be of provincial or national importance.

HOLY PLACE: A view of Kiep Bac Temple in the Con Son – Kiep Bac Site, Hai Duong Province, one of the four clusters of special national historical relics in Yen Tu Monuments and Landscapes Complex. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat

These sites boast a combination of natural landscapes and architectural structures. The complex holds great historical significance as it is the birthplace of Truc Lam – the Vietnamese Zen Buddhism founded by King-Monk Tran Nhan Tong (1258 – 1308). It was also associated with the formation and development of the Tran Dynasty (1225 - 1400).

Through the ups and downs of time and the adverse impact of war and disruption, many structures in the nominated property have been destroyed and degraded. However, many other relics have been paid special attention to by the State of Viet Nam in form of renovation, embellishment, research and excavation.

Many other relics are still intact on the ground or are protected underground. Recent archaeological explorations in these three provinces have partly exposed them to authenticate their veracity.

A significant part of the site is covered by unspoilt primaeval forests, containing a high biodiversity value and which play an important role in regulating climate and supplying fresh water for the downstream area of Northeast of Viet Nam.

The Government, provincial authorities and local people are taking great care to preserve and promote these relics and landscapes, a report published on the UNESCO website has said.

In the first relic recognition of Viet Nam in 1962, the Tran Dynasty historical relic area was recognised as a national monument. In 1964, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Bac Giang Province, and in 1975, the Yen Tu historic and scenic area in Uong Bi City, Quang Ninh Province were also recognised as national monuments.

In addition, within the Yen Tu historic and scenic area many relics are recognised as national, special national and provincial monuments, and are inventoried, studied, excavated and protected under the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Law, the report said.

The master plan for preserving and promoting the value of the Yen Tu and Tran Dynasty historical relic area was approved by the then Prime Minister in 2013.

The identification, recognition and approval of the master plan is the basis for the management, protection and promotion of these monuments for future generations, as laid out in the 1972 UNESCO Convention on the protection of World Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites, according to the report.

The MoCST is actively guiding and coordinating with the People's Committees of the three provinces to protect the integrity of the complex by improving supporting legal framework. This includes relevant national laws and Governmental decrees such as Law on Cultural Heritage, Law on Forest Protection and Development, Law on Environmental Protection, Tourism Law and Biodiversity Law.

HIGHER GROUND: At the peak of the sacred Yen Tu Mountain. — Photo

Based on these laws and decrees, all activities taking place in the heritage area and affecting the heritage value will need approval from the culture ministry and other ministries.

In late January 2021, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam assigned the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh to coordinate with their counterparts in Bac Giang, Hai Duong and related agencies to compile a dossier seeking the UNESCO-recognised world heritage status for the Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape. So far, many meetings and scientific workshops have been organised to clarify the values of the global significance of this complex.

Nguyen Thi Hanh, Vice Chairwoman of the Quang Ninh People’s Committee, said it is not easy to compile the dossier, and the three provinces are facing great pressure when performing this task.

Above all, the local authorities and people believe that preservation of the heritage sites and the protection of the surrounding environment equals the protection of life in the future.

This awareness will help protect the integrity and promote the outstanding global values of the complex.