Welsh slate landscape proposed for World Heritage status

The government has put forward the Slate Landscape of north west Wales as the UK’s next preferred nomination for Unesco World Heritage site status, writes Angie Cronin.

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.

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, joining the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward at Gwynedd and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Tourism minister Michael Ellis 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.

“This is a crucial milestone on the road to becoming a World Heritage site and the global recognition that brings.”

Wales minister Mims Davies added: “An accolade such as this not only highlights the immense beauty and history that Wales has to offer but also acts as a catalyst to investment and tourism.

“The status which is globally recognised would help to revive and grow the economy of the slate areas that have had such a significant influence on the communities and heritage of north west Wales.”

The UK currently has 31 World Heritage sites and can nominate one site per calendar year.