Tibet Heritage Fund (THF) has continued to expand throughout 1999.
Founded under the name of "Lhasa Archive Project" in 1993 as a lobbying effort for the preservation of the old city of Lhasa, THF has become an accredited NGO whose work has made a lasting impact on Lhasa and its inhabitants. Sadly, in the five years it took to achive that, about 150 historic buildings were lost and some Lhasa people already lament that THF came perhaps a bit late.
Since the reversal of the previous official city-planning policy (demolition and replacement of the old town) in 1998, THF's biggest success so far, the new conservation policy has taken ground. New rules for the 76 protected residential buildings have been established. The zoning-policy and height restrictions for new buildings around the Jokhang (adopted in the 1980s but previously not enforced too strongly) were brought back to life - buildings taller than the Jokhang's roof were recently "cropped" (see page 6). For
THF, this meant we were no longer in a desperate race against the demolition crews, but could devote more time to overall planning. It also means we have completed a circle: the demolition of the original historic Surkhang House in 1993 was the initial starting point of our project, and one of the fruits of our work is now the partial demolition of the ugly department store that has replaced it.
Beijing has officially nominated the Jokhang Temple for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, hopefully to be approved in December 2000, and THF now looks forward to extended contacts with UNESCO.
The main pillars of THF - restoration in traditional style, supervised by old masters who simultaneously pass on their skills, combined with water and sanitation and other life-quality improvements - received reinforcement. Altogether 200 Tibetans are now permanently employed by THF in these two
programmes, making up a very effective restoration and upgrading workforce. In addition, a THF mural-conservation programme has started, and more projects outside of Lhasa have been adopted. But the lack of skilled local craftsmen and engineers in Lhasa, combined with the rapid growth of the city, still presents a serious challenge to the preservation of Lhasa's physical cultural heritage. Only swift action can prevent further irreversible damage.
Once more, we would like to thank our donors and supporters (especially the German, Dutch and Canadian governments and Trace Foundation, see
Main Donors) who have made it all possible.
Report: Table of Contents