(from “lasiciliaweb” of 21/06/2013)

The comitee, met in Cambodia, added the volcano to the World Heritage List for being one of “the most emblematic and active in the world”

CATANIA – The “promotion” of the Etna to UNESCO World Heritage Site arrives from Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. The comitee of the organization of the United Nations defined it as one of the “most emblematic and active in the world and the most important for the long lasting activity – 2.700 years – in Europe”.

The longevous volcano has “one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism”. UNESCO writes “summit craters, cinder cones, lava flows, lava caves and the Valle del Bove depression have made Mount Etna a prime destination for research and education” and notes how it still “continues to influence volcanology, geophysics and other earth science disciplines”. “Mount Etna’s notoriety, scientific importance, and cultural and educational value are of global significance”, says the verdict.

The area, classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is part of the Parco dell’Etna (Etna Park) created in 1987. So far 962 sites are registered in 157 countries. Among those who have applied for admission for their “outstanding universal value” there are, among others, the Medici Villas and Gardens in Italy, Mount Fuji in Japan and the city of Agadez in Niger.

The inclusion of the Etna was announced on May 3rd by the Ministry of the Environment, after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had announced the positive outcome of the evaluation by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which had recognized “the scientific and educational importance, the exceptional volcanic activity and the ultra-millennial notoriety of the volcano, icon of the Mediterranean”. The nomination was made official in March last year by the General Director of the Ministry of Environment Mr. Renato Grimaldi who informed, after having received a formal communication from the Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris, the Indian Mr. Kishore Rao, the “Parco dell’Etna”.

The proposer of the nomination (the first nomination ever of an Italian park among the natural sites) was the same park, which prepared a dossier, then endorsed by the Ministry of the Environment and formally presented at the center of the World Heritage. To perform the mission of Mount Etna for the technical evaluation on the candidacy had been in October 2012, the German geographer IUCN Mr. Bastian Bertzky. At the end of the mission he had said: “The Etna is really fantastic. It entered into my heart. I spent a wonderful time here.”

The Etna is, with its height of over 3,300 meters, the highest active volcano in Europe. With its base circumference of more than two hundred kilometers it dominates the entire northern area of the city of Catania. It was born from a series of submarine eruptions that, according to recent geological studies, followed one another at first on the Ionian coast of Sicily to move then gradually more and more to the north, filling what scientists call the “Pre-Etnean Gulf “: an enormous coastal recess with epicenter the area where now the city of Catania is located.