Decision : CONF 001 VIII.2
Srebarna Biosphere Reserve (Bulgaria)
The Bureau recalled that the Committee at its last session included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Prevention of seasonal flooding has led to a decrease in the size and productivity of Srebarna and agricultural and residential use of surrounding areas have led to decline or disappearance of migratory and passerine bird populations. The Bureau recalled that IUCN, on the basis of two missions to the site in 1992, had concluded that Srebarna's World Heritage status may no longer be justified because it has deteriorated to a state where it may have irretrievably lost the characteristics which merited its inclusion in the World Heritage List.
The Bureau at its sixteenth session, held in Paris in July 1992, had recommended that the Committee consider deleting this property from the World Heritage List and had invited the Bulgarian authorities to submit their observations and comments to the Committee. At its last session, the Committee was informed by the Representative of Bulgaria that the Bulgarian Government, in order to restore the World Heritage values of Srebarna, was preparing a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of Srebarna and an ecosystem restoration plan. The Committee had indicated to the Bulgarian authorities that available scientific evidence suggested that the site may no longer possess the natural habitat values for which it was inscribed, and that a full restoration of a naturally functioning ecosystem might be impossible. However, the Committee invited the Bulgarian authorities to submit, before 1 May 1993, to the World Heritage Centre, the results of the on-going project to prepare a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the site, including an analysis of available data to monitor biological populations and environmental quality, and a plan for ecosystem restoration.
The Bureau noted that the Bulgarian authorities have submitted to the World Heritage Centre, a project document entitled 'Environmental Recovery and Restoration of the Biosphere Reserve "Srebarna"'and had indicated that a report on the comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of Srebarna will be sent to the Centre as soon as its translation into French is finalized. A representative of IUCN made a detailed presentation on the state of conservation of Srebarna and the Bulgarian plan for its restoration, and emphasized the fact that most small wetlands like Srebarna (600 ha) are inherently unstable and their ecological integrity is easily threatened by changes occurring outside their boundaries. The Bureau noted that the restoration plans currently being implemented by the Bulgarian authorites could restore the hydraulic regime of Srebarna, and hence have the potential to restore the ecosystem which existed at the time of Srebarna's inscription on the World Heritage List. Furthermore, the Bureau learnt that the Bulgarian authorities were introducing a system to issue permits to local people for hunting wild boar and foxes which threaten the population of Dalmatior- Pelicans in Srebarna. The Bureau, however, noted that the Peli_in population of Srebarna comprised only about 10% of the global population of the species, and continued to breed in sites outside of Srebarna, including some sites in Romania, where they were hunted.
The Bureau recommended to the Committee to: (a) retain Srebarna on the List of World Heritage in Danger; (b) defer its decision on whether or not to delete Srebarna from the World Heritage List for a period of two years and (c) request IUCN, in co-operation with the Ramsar Convention, to monitor the extent to which the project(s) implemented by the Bulgarian authorities are restoring the ecological integrity of Srebarna. Furthermore, the Bureau requested that the proposal for the restoration of Srebarna, and the comprehensive assessment of its state of conservation be made available to members of the Committee for review, and that the Bulgarian and Romanian authorities co-operate in protecting the populations of Dalmation Pelicans in the region. The Bureau requested IUCN and the Centre to co-operate with the Ramsar Convention and the Bulgarian authorities and report to its eighteenth session on the extent to which the restoration efforts implemented by the Bulgarian authorities are helping to restore Srebarna.