The Strategic Plan for the Petra Region in Jordan, one the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” will receive the 2012 American Planning Association’s Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award. The strategic plan balances the need for the preservation of important archaeological resources with the need for increased tourism and economic growth.
The Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award recognizes planning practices and efforts undertaken outside the United States to promote communities of lasting value. The international landscape architecture, land planning, urban design and strategic services firm, Design Workshop, was the only American entity within the three-partner consortium that the Petra Development Tourism Regional Authority (PDTRA) retained to complete the strategic plan.
“This plan is a critical guide to the preservation of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World,” said Marie L. York, FAICP, APA Board Director and 2012 Awards Jury Co-Chair. “It will serve as a valuable model for regions facing the competing challenges of attracting tourism and protecting cultural resources.”
A 6th century BC archaeological site, Petra was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 and more recently named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” In addition to its importance as an archaeological site and cultural icon, its tourism draw is the second largest component of the Jordanian economy.
That tremendous tourism growth, however, has put the archaeological resource at risk of losing its designation as a World Heritage site. The region also faces challenges with environmental degradation, population growth, child labor, limited water availability, unchecked development, lack of infrastructure and management of the archeological park.
A conflict exists between the need to protect the archaeological site and the need to promote tourism to benefit the country’s economy. Local residents and leaders understand that the integrity of these resources is critical to the region’s long-term economic health and well-being.
To address these challenges, the Jordanian government established the Petra Development and Tourism Regional Authority (PDTRA) to oversee the nearly 200,000 -acre region, including the Petra Archaeological Park. A multidisciplinary, international team of planners, landscape architects, tourism planners and local experts was retained by the PDTRA to prepare under the direction of PDTRA’s Commissioner for Local Development, Dr. Mohammad Farajat, the Strategic Master Plan for the Petra Region, providing a guide to preserve its archaeological, ecological, and cultural resources while planning for the needs of a fast-growing population. More than 400 local leaders, women’s groups, youth groups and experts provided valuable input to the team made up of Design Workshop of Aspen Col, ATC Consultants of Vienna, Austria and JCP of Amman.
The strategic plan includes:
-Provisions for watershed management within targeted growth areas;
-Sets aside 93.8 percent of the region as conservation zones and open space;
-Addresses dependencies on unsustainable tourism practices;
-Provides opportunities for economic diversification; and
-Proposals for managing regional transportation impacts associated with mass tourism.
The Pierre L’Enfant International Planning Award will be presented at a special awards luncheon on April 16, 2012, held during APA’s National Planning Conference in Los Angeles.
IMAGES: Design Workshop