Sustainability, Vol. 8, Pages 747: Analysis of the Changing Landscape of a World Heritage Site: Case of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR

Research paper by Ceelia Leong, Jun-;ichi Takada, Shinobu Yamaguchi

Indexed on: 14 Aug '16Published on: 04 Aug '16Published in: Sustainability


The Luang Prabang World Heritage Site experienced tremendous change caused by rapid development and tourism growth. It is recognized that change is inevitable in evolving historic urban cities. Adequate information is essential in formulating strategies to manage change without compromising heritage values. Existing studies are critical of the impact of tourism negatively transforming Luang Prabang but lack in-depth analysis and a significant sample size to clearly discern the changes. This paper addresses the need to visualize the significant changes affecting the built environment of the core inscribed area of Luang Prabang World Heritage. Geographic information systems (GIS) were applied to compare the landscape between 1999 and 2009 based on indicators adopted from the Safeguarding and Preservation Plan (PSMV). Four significant changes were identified as follows: (1) there was an evident shift from residential to touristic use, particularly to guesthouses; (2) Lao traditional architecture has replaced modern architecture; (3) modern building materials have replaced traditional building materials; and (4) traditional roof materials have replaced modern roof materials. Changes in landscape were interpreted and factors that caused the changes were identified from the local stakeholders’ perspective.