14.11.2017 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Seven Years of International Cooperation for the Long-Term Conservation of the Borobudur World Heritage Site

Photo credit © QuakeFund

This year concludes the seventh and last phase of the project for the conservation of the World Heritage listed Borobudur Temple Compounds, financed by the Federal Republic of Germany.

The support was initiated after the eruption of Mount Merapi in 2010 which posed a serious threat to the conservation of the Borobudur Temple Compounds. This threat was coupled with ongoing concerns from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre about the state of conservation of the Temple, especially its stone reliefs. Facing these challenges, UNESCO in partnership with the Indonesian government, called for international support to fund crucial research and conservation actions to ensure long-term preservation of the Borobudur Temple.

The Federal Republic of Germany generously responded to this challenge by providing more than 700.000 Euro for the funding of 7 significant projects that have been commissioned by UNESCO Office, Jakarta during 2011-2017. These projects have been implemented in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia, specifically with the Borobudur Conservation Office.

As part of the appreciation and acknowledgment of generous support received from the Federal Republic of Germany for the conservation and preservation of the Borobudur Temple Compounds and other cultural heritage sites in Indonesia, UNESCO Office,  Jakarta in collaboration with the Borobudur Conservation Office hosted a Special Ceremony at Galeri Komunitas (Karangaanyar Village, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java) on 3 November 2017 .

The Special Ceremony was attended by more than 80 guests from various Heritage Preservation Offices, conservation students, local communities, as well as government representatives from national and local levels. Amongst the guests were government representatives from the Ministry of Education and Culture, National Disaster Management Agency, Gadjah Mada University, and PT. Taman Wisata Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko. The Ceremony included giving of tokens of appreciation from the Ministry of Education and Culture to the representative of the Federal Republic of Germany and to the international experts. A presentation was delivered by the Borobudur Conservation Office to show the audience the scientific and technical collaboration implemented between the Borobudur Conservation Office and the German technical experts during the 7-year period of the project.

During the ceremony, Mr. Hendrik Barkeling (Deputy Head of Mission, Chargé d’Affaires i.a. of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Jakarta) stated that although this year concludes the seventh and last phase of the project for the conservation of the World Heritage listed Borobudur Temple Compounds, the Federal Republic of Germany will continue providing conservation and cultural preservation projects in hundreds of  countries across the world. Mr. Barkeling iterated his hope that the project implemented in Borobudur and Prambanan will equip the Indonesian conservators to continue conserving cultural heritage sites in Indonesia.  

Mr. Yunus Arbi (Head of the Sub-Directorate of Heritage and Cultural Diplomacy, Ministry of Education and Culture) shared that the Ministry of Education and Culture deeply appreciates the international attention given for the conservation of the Borobudur Temple Compounds. He explained that World Heritage Sites belong to humanity in general. Thus, when disasters strike and affect World Heritage Sites, people across the world respond and support their recovery. He acknowledged that the Federal Republic of Germany is one of the countries that has highly qualified human resources in the area of technical conservation, and have scientific expertise. Mr. Arbi expressed his gratitude for the series of trainings provided by the technical experts from Germany that have strengthened the capacities of the Indonesian conservators.

The project funded by the Federal Republic of Germany since 2011 to 2017 has produced a number of significant and sustainable results, both in the conservation of the Temple, as well as in strengthening capacities of the Borobudur Conservation Office (BCO) staff. In the conservation of the Temple, new equipment have been procured, stone varieties have been identified, and a mapping of deterioration patterns at the Temple has been conducted. Weathering and crust impacts on the Temple have been identified. New, non‐destructive techniques for assessing stone varieties have been developed. A mortar that can be used for conservation has also been developed. Missing Buddha statue heads at the Borobudur Temple have been identified. An analysis has been done on the drainage system, and disaster risk reduction activities have been implemented. In strengthening BCO staff, capacity development interventions have been provided on new analysis techniques, photographic documentation, and documentation  systems. BCO staff, as well as heritage professionals and community members have also enhanced their knowledge through stone conservation  workshops.

On behalf of Prof. Dr. Shahbaz Khan (Director and Representative of UNESCO Office, Jakarta), Mr. Hans Dencker Thulstrup (Senior Programme Specialist for Water and Environmental Sciences of UNESCO Office, Jakarta) commended on the remarkable work achieved for the conservation of the Borobudur Temple Compounds. He highlighted that this is an excellent example of international cooperation for the safeguarding of heritage. The project funded by the Federal Republic of Germany has resulted in the application of a number of significant conservation techniques, research, and capacity development activities. Mr. Thulstrup emphasized that this example can be of great importance for other heritage sites, not only in Indonesia, but also in Southeast Asia and in the world.

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