Rosia Montana: From Europe’s 7 Most Endangered to World Heritage Tentative List

The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 have brought great achievements for Rosia Montana in Romania. On 30 December, the ancient mining landscape of Rosia Montana was classified as a historic site, and, on 5 February, it was put on the country’s tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status, thus blocking the large-scale gold mining project which has been promoted by a multinational company for 15 years. Following many years of campaigning in favour of a sustainable development plan for Rosia Montana, which included the site being listed among The 7 Most Endangered 2013, Europa Nostra welcomes these landmark decisions taken by the Romanian government.

Photo: Petru Mortu

Photo: Petru Mortu

On 30 December 2015, Romania’s Ministry of Culture declared the village of Rosia Montana and its surroundings within a two-kilometre perimeter a historic site of national interest, granting it protection from industrial mining activity. The decision is a new blow for the Canadian-based company Gabriel Resources which has been trying for years to obtain an environment ministry permit to extract 300 tonnes of gold from the picturesque area.

On 5 February, the Romanian Ministry of Culture included the Rosia Montana cultural landscape on the country’s tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status. The landscape of Rosia Montana has been masterfully transformed by mining activities for more than three millennia. The subterranean heritage consists of a vast gallery network (some 150 km, of which 7 km dates from Dacian and Roman times) and in situ equipment and artefacts. The remnants of surface habitation (Roman funerary sites, edifices and roads, as well as medieval and modern areas) demonstrate an intense interaction between man and the environment throughout the centuries.

Putting Rosia Montana on the national tentative list represents the starting point of an applied research and evaluation process and it is the first procedural step for its inclusion on the World Heritage List.

Europa Nostra has campaigned for a long-term development plan for Rosia Montana for many years, both at national and European levels. The organisation has called for a culturally sensitive and environmentally friendly alternative to the large-scale open-cast gold mining project promoted by a Canadian-based company and encouraged the European Union to support a sustainable development plan for Rosia Montana.

On 12 June 2013, Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Institute listed Rosia Montana among The 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe, following the nomination made by Pro-Patrimonio Foundation. On 19-20 November 2013, top-level delegates from Europa Nostra gathered in Bucharest with representatives from the main scientific, civic and professional organisations involved in the rescue of the site. On 16-19 June 2014, heritage and financial experts from Europa Nostra and the EIB Institute met in Cluj-Napoca, Rosia Montana and Bucharest with local, regional and national stakeholders to discuss ways to ensure a sustainable future for Rosia Montana.

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