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Ancient Sogdiana – potential UNESCO World Heritage Site

An International Practical Conference "Ancient Sogdiana: Past, Present and Future" took place on 18-19 October in Dushanbe. The conference was dedicated to issues of conservation and development of the Yagnob valley and its people - Yagnob small mountain ethnic group (5000 people), speakers of ancient Sogdiana language.

The conference was organized by the Ayninsky District Development Committee, Ayninsky Regional UNDP Office, UNDP Communities Program and Tajik Socio-Ecological Union with the support of the Department International Development and under patronage of the Embassy of Russian Federation in the Republic of Tajikistan. In the Conference took part representatives of legislative and executive bodies of the Republic of Tajikistan; embassies and International organizations; academic science, of the Republic of Tajikistan, Russian Federation, Central Asia, Sweden and Germany; Tajik and foreign experts and financial organizations. The representative of the Natural Heritage Protection Fund appeared at the conference as a consultant for nominating the Ancient Sogdiana on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The conference gave the first impulse for the social-economic development of the Yagnob valley and the unique Yagnob people - small mountain ethnic group (about 5000 people), speakers of the ancient Sogdiana language. The results of the conference have defined lines of further investigations of the Yagnob valley, practical aid in development of infrastructure, medical care and education, and possibilities of establishment of the Yagnob Natural Ethnographic Park and the UNESCO Mixed Natural and Cultural site.

Similar properties in the World Heritage List bearing in mind only ethnographical aspect are ethic villages or regions where prosper ancient traditional cultures and dwell aboriginals - representatives of indigenous and/or small peoples:

  • Laponian Area, Sweden. Mixed heritage site (saami, or lapp people, and their traditional nature management);
  • Cliff of the Bandiagara - Land of the Dogons, Mali. Mixed heritage site (ethno village, small African people);
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia. Mixed heritage site (Anangu aboriginal people);
  • Kakadu National Park, Australia. Mixed heritage site (aboriginal people);
  • Hortobagy National Park - the Puszta, Hungary. Cultural heritage site (ethno village);
  • Tongariro National Park, New Zealand. Mixed heritage site (Maori indigenous people and their culture);
  • Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba, Togo. Cultural heritage site (ethno village).