Strength in numbers
When the UNESCO Commission awarded World Heritage status to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley in 2002 there was great enthusiasm throughout the community and all the responsible bodies. The question now was how to breathe life into “World Heritage” title. How could the internationally acclaimed distinction be best utilized for the future development of the Middle Rhine region? How could the sense of community within the valley be strengthened? The answer to all these questions was the foundation of the cooperative association known as the „Zweckverband Welterbe Oberes Mittelrheintal“!
This joint management association is probably quite unique in Germany and
beyond: in 2005 around 60 local communities, five districts (Landkreise) and
two Federal States joined forces with one common goal: to maintain and develop a cultural landscape in accordance with the requirements and objectives of UNESCO. The main decision-making body is the members’ assembly in which all local communities and bodies who are members of the Zweckverband have voting rights. The members’ assembly elects an executive committee which includes the Landrat (head of the district authority) of the
Rhine-Lahn district, the Landrat of the Rhine-Hunsrück district as well as the deputy chief administration officer of the Rhinegau- Taunus district. A central office headed by a full-time World Heritage manager was set up in St. Goarshausen to deal with day-to-day business and to prepare the proceedings of the executive committee and members’ assembly meetings. Up to now the achievements of the Zweckverband have been truly impressive: a common
corporate design for the Middle Rhine Valley has been developed – its colour and distinctive logo have now become a real trade mark. There are now World Heritage flags, World Heritage information pillars and Rhine kilometre stones in all the towns and villages that liedirectly on Rhine. Special town entry signs in all the communities – including those on the heights – advise visitors that they are now entering the World Heritage Site. In collaboration with an expert advisory committee and various different working groups, the Zweckverband
then went on to put together an action programme which would form the basis for the further sensitive and World Heritage-compatible development of the region. This led to the association’s support for, promotion of and independent realization of a number of projects in individual towns and villages and often beyond. One example is the event “rheinpartie” which the Zweckverband
organized in the autumn of 2009. This spectacular festival of projection and illumination art which took place throughout the whole of the World Heritage
Valley was the greatest artistic media event for many years. It is hoped that the event will be staged again in autumn 2011. Another of the Zweckverband’s highly successful initiatives has been the affiliation of “World Heritage Hosts”. The specially created World Heritage Rose has also been very warmly received.
Its evocative name “Zauber der Loreley” could be translated as “Charming Loreley”. The “r(h)einblicke” project has set itself the task of creating spaces and locations at many spots directly on the banks of the Rhine which will have special architectural appeal to inspire visitors to stay longer. The Zweckverband
has also acquired a “set of stations” – ten railways stations, most of them disused, are to be given a new lease of life, a measure which will considerably enhance the areas in which they are located.