Decision : 32 COM 8B.5
Examination of nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the World Heritage List - Socotra Archipelago (YEMEN)
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B2,
2. Inscribes the Socotra Archipelago, Yemen, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (x)
3.Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value
Socotra is globally important for biodiversity conservation because of its exceptionally rich and distinct flora and fauna. 37% of Socotra’s plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world. Socotra is of particular importance to the Horn of Africa’s biodiversity hotspot and, as one of the most biodiversity rich and distinct islands in the world, has been termed the “Galápagos of the Indian Ocean”.
Criterion (x): Biological diversity and threatened species: Socotra is globally important for biodiversity conservation because of its exceptional level of biodiversity and endemism in many terrestrial and marine groups of organisms. Socotra is particularly important for its diversity of plants and has 825 plant species of which 307 (37%) are endemic. Socotra has high importance for bird species as underlined by the identification by Birdlife International of 22 Important Bird Areas on Socotra. Socotra also supports globally significant populations of other land and sea birds, including a number of threatened species. Extremely high levels of endemism occur in Socotra’s reptiles (34 species, 90% endemism) and land snails (96 species, 95% endemism). The marine life of Socotra is also very diverse, with 253 species of reef-building corals, 730 species of coastal fish and 300 species of crab, lobster and shrimp, and well represented in the property’s marine areas.
The property is of sufficient size to adequately represent all the terrestrial and marine features and processes that are essential for the long term conservation of the archipelago’s rich and distinct biodiversity. The terrestrial nature sanctuaries, national parks and areas of special botanical interest included in the property encompass about 75% of the total land area. They protect all the major vegetation types, areas of high floral and faunal values, and important bird areas. The marine nature sanctuaries included in the property encompass the most important elements of marine biodiversity. The property’s integrity is further enhanced by terrestrial and marine buffer zones that are not part of the inscribed property.
Requirements for Protection and Management
All component areas of the property have legal protection; however there is a need to strengthen the legislative framework, and management and enforcement capacity. Whilst the property’s terrestrial and marine habitats are generally still in good condition, management planning needs to deal more effectively with current threats including roading, overgrazing and overharvesting of terrestrial and marine natural resources. Potential future threats include unsustainable tourism and invasive species. Impacts of these threats on Socotra’s biodiversity need to be closely monitored and minimized. A sustainable financing strategy is required to ensure the necessary human and financial resources for the long term management of the property. Appropriate linkages need to be developed between the management of the property, its buffer zones and the Socotra Biosphere Reserve.
4. Commends the State Party for its major efforts for the long term conservation of the property; and recognises in particular the positive commitments from the State Party as set out in the Government of Yemen’s Cabinet Decrees No. 45-49 of 12 February 2008 which relate to the conservation and sustainable development of the Socotra Archipelago;
5. Requests the State Party to implement these Decrees as quickly as possible and, in particular, that:
a) management planning for the World Heritage property be enhanced to deal more effectively with key threats, in particular ensuring that:
- i) future roading works minimise environmental impacts on biodiversity and where possible are located outside the property;
- ii) grazing impacts on biodiversity are monitored and effective measures taken to reduce environmental impacts from grazing; and
- iii) invasive species are effectively controlled, including through limiting the entry of invasive species at ports and the airport;
b) a separate management authority be established for the World Heritage property which would give priority attention to the conservation of the unique biodiversity of the property. This Authority should have adequate sustained human and financial resources, and enforcement capacity;
c) the buffer zones (which are not part of the inscribed property) be managed in a complementary manner to the property, with appropriate linkages developed with the management of the Socotra Biosphere Reserve; and
d) a sustainable financing strategy be developed for the World Heritage property, which includes ongoing and adequate support from the Government of Yemen and international support from donors and partners;
6. Acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the State Party in formulating a bio safety framework and ratifying the Cartagena Protocol and encourages the State Party to strengthen such regulations particularly those related to endemic species in Socotra Archipelago to prevent loss of the unique biodiversity;
7. Further requests the State Party to invite a mission to the property in 2012 to assess progress with the above recommendations and report back to the World Heritage Committee.