The Global Heritage Fund (GHF) is highlighting five new sites in the hopes of preserving the cultural heritage they represent while also building a local sustainable economy. GHF executive director Vince Michael spoke to Mashable from China, where he was on his way to visit one of the highlighted sites, the Minority Villages in Guizhou, China.
“Our slogan is ‘saving heritage globally, improving lives locally,'” he said. “Promoting heritage provides an opportunity to bring these regions out of poverty.”
Even though he and his team work to promote these destinations to travelers, they don’t want tourism to negatively impact the communities.
“Too often when we look at sites in the world, we just consider them postcards,” he said. “But these places aren’t just monuments of history, it’s almost like you’re walking through history. It’s still happening around you.”
The Minority Villages of Guizhou, China carry on thousand-year-old traditions, with architecture and activities that continue to withstand the test of time. The villages are reached by traveling into the mountains on long and winding roads.
Michael said GHF is working to promote economic development in conjunction with sustainable tourism to preserve a way of life under threat from rapid industrialization.
IMAGE: GLOBAL HERITAGE FUND GHF
The Transylvanian Alps are home to villages where you can actually experience a bit of authentic medieval culture. The Carpathian villages were formed in the 13th to 16th centuries.
GHF lists modern development as a threat to these amazing villages, so they are working with partners in Romania are working the area’s governments and citizens to preserve the cultural landscape.
The Mirador Basin is the location of the Maya Biosphere, a natural landscape even more amazing than Yellowstone National Park in the United States. The region has everything from wetlands to mountain ranges, creating a breathtaking backdrop for the most ancient Mayan archaeological sites.
GHF’s project in the region is trying to protect the area from logging and ranching.
Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida is often compared to Peru’s Machu Picchu, but it is, at least for the moment, much less popular. The “Lost City” was forgotten for centuries but is now known to be the site of more than 200 structures. Tourism to the ancient city is growing, though, and could soon become unsustainable.
According to Michael, GHF is working to develop a site management plan so tourism is sustainable and archaeological structures are preserved.
Göbekli Tepe in Turkey is the oldest human-made place of worship that has ever been discovered, according to GHF. Archaeologists date its creation about 11,600 years ago, making it older than Stonehenge.
This ancient example of monumental architecture changes our entire understanding of how human societies developed, because this place of worship preceded even the creation of modern cities.