1996 and 1998 World Monuments Watch
Until its independence from the Soviets in 1991, the Abava River valley, a region that developed during the Middle Ages along the route to Germany, had remained immune to the modern age. Medieval towns such as Kandava, the vineyards of Sabile, the country estates of Pedvale, 18th- and 19th-century churches and dwellings, and significant wildlife and nature reserves were intact. The historic character of the landscape could soon be compromised unless a conservation area is established and protected by a legal framework for development. With independence, though, has come political decentralization and privatization of property, which has, in turn, spawned insensitive development. Lots are being subdivided and filled with the wearyingly common fixtures of contemporary life – gas stations, entertainment centers, parking lots. Since World Monuments Watch listing, heritage-awareness events have taken place and, most significantly, the government declared the area as a Specially Protected Cultural Territory. Implementation of a proper conservation plan is what should follow.
Since the Watch
In the wake of the 1996 Watch the area was declared a specially protected cultural territory by the government. The Abava River Valley Development Plan was completed in 2001. Since 2005, the Abava Valley has been on Latvia's Tentative World Heritage List. January 2011