Lijiang Ancient Town, one of the few remaining authentic ancient towns in China, was recognized as being of outstanding universal value in 1997 when it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. However, this cultural treasure has over the years suffered from neglect and the effects of uncontrolled development, spurring GHF to implement a project to arrest these negative impacts and provide the help needed to preserve the town. In partnership with Lijiang Ancient Town Management Committee, UNESCO World Heritage Centre Asia Pacific and Shanghai TongJi University’s Urban Planning and Design Institute, GHF has provided a new vision through Lijiang’s first Master Conservation and Site Management Plan and an innovative Preservation Incentive Fund to provide subsidies for low-income households to help retain the native Naxi families that make this living ancient town so priceless.
By the end of the project, nearly 200 ancient residences had been authentically restored, and the project was honored with the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Merit. In the Award of Merit, the UNESCO panel of experts commented that “the partnership between the residents, management authorities, external conservation experts and donors allows for a broad based and participatory conservation approach within the framework of the overall World Heritage site management plan and worthy of being populated to the other world Heritage sites”.