VII.8 Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)
The Committee recalled the fact that it included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996, and requested the State Party to implement the eleven-point corrective action plan that had been endorsed by the Minister for the Environment of Honduras. The elaboration of a management plan for Rio Platano is being carried out with a contribution of US$ 30,000 from the World Heritage Fund, as part of a large scale project for strengthening the conservation of Rio Platano financed by GTZKFW (Germany). The Committee was informed of a hydroelectric development project (Patuca II), proposed for implementation near the Reserve. Terms of reference for a draft environmental impact assessment of the development project have been prepared; potential impacts of the project include opening of new access roads to the Reserve, reduction in downstream water flow and quality, and the loss of scenic and bio-diversity values. The Committee noted that IUCN has received a large number of reports on the hydroelectric development project, reflecting in particular the concern and disagreement of a number of indigenous peoples living in and around the area. According to these reports, the Government is promoting the rapid implementation of this project, and the process for preparing an EIA, currently underway, lacks consultation and transparency. Reports received also indicate a plan for opening a new road. Furthermore, the Committee noted that communications with relevant authorities in Honduras have become difficult following recent damages caused to the country's infrastructure by Hurricane Mitch and information on the damage caused by the hurricane to this site need to be urgently obtained.
The Committee decided to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requested the Centre to contact the State Party to obtain detailed information on the proposed hydroelectric development project, including on EIA which is currently under preparation, as well as on the impact of Hurricane Mitch on Rio Platano. Moreover, the Committee requested the State Party to invite the Centre and IUCN to undertake a site visit with a view to providing a detailed state of conservation report on Rio Platano to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.