The Struve Arc in the UNESCO World Heritage

In the end of August 1993, at the scientific conference in Tartu dedicated to F. G. W. Struve’s, J. Mädler’s and E. J. Öpiks’s jubilees, Finnish scientists Aarne Veriö and Seppo Härmälä made a proposal to enter the surviving points of the triangulation chain measured under the supervision of Struve into the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The UNESCO certificate (National Land Survey of Finland)

According to the present political division of land between states the Struve-Tenner meridian arc passes through ten states (from north to south: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Byelorussia, Ukraine and Moldova). In the year 2000 the Estonian Land Board recommended that three Estonian points should be entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List: Simuna (Katku) - Võivere baseline’s endpoints and the astro-geodetic point of the Tartu Observatory.

Thanks to the very strong support from the Director General Jarmo Ratia and the Chief Engineer Pekka Tätilä of the Finnish Land Board the Struve’s arc was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List on 15 July 2005. All in all 34 points were included in the register: Norway (4), Sweden (4), Finland (6), Russia (1), Estonia (3), Latvia (3), Lithuania (3), Byelorussia (5), Ukraine (4) and Moldova (1).

The Struve arc and some points (National Land Survey of Finland)
Fuglenaes, Norway
Staro Nekrassowka, Ukraine
Katku, Estonia
The astro-geodetic point of the Tartu Observatory

The management of the Arc

The basic responsibility for all kind of management and actions of individual properties must be taken by the individual State Parties and be carried out by each of them in accordance with their legislative and management systems. The role of the Coordinating Committee is to produce common guidelines for management and to monitor the progress of preservation of the sites.

Coordinating Committee has every second year working sessions with the Plenary by invitation of one of the Arc countries. The Bureau of the Committee forms agenda of a working session and Plenary. The decisions of the Plenary are reflected in the resolutions. The decisions of the Coordinating Committee are taken unanimously.

Based on the practice gained within the nomination process, the main actors are the national surveying agencies of the ten countries. Almost all the 34 sites are also today used for surveying purposes and these agencies are dealing in any case with the sites. They also have professional staff and other means for management purposes. The national boards of the antiquities of the ten countries are the most immediate partners of the collaboration.

The master piece of the science

The Struve Geodetic Arc is one of the most significant master pieces of the science of its own time. It was an example of the collaboration of scientists and monarchs of different countries and the results of the measurements were utilised until the middle of 20th century. It´s easy to acknowledge following statements of the evaluation of ICOMOS to UNESCO World Heritage Commission in the Durban Meeting in 2005.

“The Sruve Geodetic Arc is the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian, helping in the establishment of the exact size and shape of the world, and it exhibits an important step in the development of the earth science. The measuring of the Arc and its results are directly associated with men wondering about his world, its shape and size”.