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Slate landscape of North Wales to be nominated for World Heritage status

The Slate Landscape of North West Wales will be the UK’s next preferred nomination for UNESCO World Heritage site status, the UK Government has announced.

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The area – which runs throughout the county of Gwynedd – is said to have “roofed the 19th century world” as slate from its mines was exported around the globe.

The landscape was assessed for World Heritage Status by a UK panel of experts this summer and it will be formally presented to UNESCO next year.

It will then be considered by the International Council of Sites and Monuments followed by the World Heritage Committee in 2021. Should it be approved, the Slate Landscape will join the likes of Grand Canyon National Park, The Great Barrier Reef and the Lake District as a designated World Heritage Site.

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The site was the world’s greatest exporter of slate during the mid-19th century, becoming a key part of the social and economic fabric of North Wales. The slate mined from the area also had a significant impact on global architecture with its materials used on a vast range of buildings, from terraces to palaces all around the world.

If inscribed it would be the fourth World Heritage Site in Wales, alongside the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward at Gwynedd and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. The World Heritage Centre manages over 1000 sites around the world and the UK has 31 World Heritage sites.

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: “Gwynedd’s slate landscape is hugely important. Its vast quarries and mines have not only shaped the countryside of the region but also countless buildings across the UK and the world.

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“This is a crucial milestone on the road to becoming a World Heritage site and the global recognition that brings. While the UNESCO nomination process is very thorough, I believe this unique landscape would be a worthy addition to the list.”

Janet Redler, Chief Executive of Janet Redler Travel & Tourism, who hails from North Wales, said: “It is fantastic news that the internationally recognised slate landscape of Gwynedd will be the UK’s preferred nomination for UNESCO World Heritage site status. Not only is this region important for its economic impact, but it is also breathtakingly beautiful, with a long and fascinating history. World Heritage status would help to boost tourist interest and investment in this very special part of the world.”

In Wales, there were one million visits by overseas tourists in 2017, spending £369 million in the local economy.

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