Decision : CONF 204 IV.A.7
Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)
The Committee, at its last session (Kyoto, 1998), had recalled that the State Party is in the process of implementing an eleven-point corrective action plan for this site since 1996. A management plan for the site is being elaborated as part of a project financed by GTZ-KFW (Germany) and supported by a contribution of US$ 30,000 from the Fund. The Committee learned that a proposed hydroelectric development project (Patuca II), to be implemented near the Reserve, could open new access roads to the Reserve, reduce downstream water flow and quality, and result in the loss of scenic and bio-diversity values. The Committee noted that indigenous peoples living in and around the Reserve had complained to IUCN about the Government’s efforts to expedite the implementation of this project, the lack of consultation and transparency in the preparation of an EIA for the project and a plan for opening a new road. The Committee was concerned that communications with Honduran authorities had become difficult due to damage caused to the country’s infrastructure by Hurricane Mitch and information on the extent of hurricane damage to this site was urgently needed. Moreover, the Committee had requested that the State Party invite a site visit by IUCN and the Centre to prepare a detailed state of conservation report on Rio Platano for submission to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.
The Bureau was informed that the flooding of the Patuca River, at the time when Hurricane Mitch impacted the site, has destroyed a great deal of vegetation and wildlife as well as settlements. However, more precise information on impacts on the natural heritage values of the site is needed to plan rehabilitation measures. IUCN’s Regional Office for Meso-America is promoting a project to assess the impact of Hurricane Mitch on protected areas in the region, including World Heritage sites, with a view to obtaining baseline data necessary to prepare and implement restoration plans. The Bureau noted that the Centre is in contact with the staff of the GTZ-KFW conservation project for Rio Platano and with the Permanent Delegation of Honduras to UNESCO to obtain more information on the Patuca II project and the extent of damage caused to Rio Platano by Hurricane Mitch.
The Bureau reiterated the Committee’s request to the State Party to consider inviting a Centre/IUCN mission to the site in 1999. Furthermore, the Bureau recommended that the Centre and IUCN continue to co-operate with the State Party to obtain detailed information concerning the Patuca II project and baseline data on the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in order to plan rehabilitation measures. The Bureau recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.