Qualified human resources were needed to complete restoration activities on the nation's historical treasures, said participants at a recent workshop held to discuss concerns about the renovation sector.

"Human resources in the cultural heritage sector have to meet the demands of our culture development strategy," said researcher Dang Van Bai at the workshop held by the Relic Preservation Institute on Jan. 10.

"A recent Government decision pointed out that the number of people involved in renovation and preservation activities remained limited, and most lacked professionalism," he said.

Participants suggested better training for staff to give them unified knowledge in artefact preservation.

The State should upgrade the status of the Culture Heritage Department, which falls under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, into a higher level agency to deal with heavier tasks, said Prof Luu Tran Tieu.

Prof Truong Quoc Binh agreed, saying the department should be developed into a centre for post-graduate cultural preservation training that could potentially give young professionals the opportunity to study abroad.

Tieu complained of amateur renovation activities at 3,200 nationally ranked sites and thousands of locally managed sites, emphasising that most of the staff involved in the renovations had not received proper training and many did not know anything about the sites they were working on.

He stressed the difference between renovation of old sites and construction of new religious structures that were based on traditional architecture, and offered examples of recently built pagodas and towers like the Nguyen Trai Temple in the northern province of Hai Duong and Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh province.

"The Bai Dinh Pagoda was built on a large area of a land covered with traces dating back to the Dinh [968-980] and Le reigns [1428-1527]," said Prof Hoang Van Khoan, adding that the new pagoda actually bore typical architectural features of the Nguyen dynasty which reigned during the 19th century.

Prof Tran Lam Bien blamed renovation workers for destroying portions of heritage sites by moving artefacts inappropriately.

He insisted that anyone involved in renovations should possess sufficient knowledge of history and ethnology, and respect the original architecture.

None of the country's renovation projects had resulted in 100 percent accuracy, he said.

"Many of the workers have no heart for the task," he said. "They just want to exploit the renovation funds." /.