Decision : CONF 204 IV.B.44
Canaima National Park (Venezuela)
At its twenty-first session (Naples, 1997) the Committee expressed its concern over threats due to a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across this Park. At its twenty-second session (June 1998), the Bureau learned that the President of Venezuela had re-affirmed his Government’s commitment to protect the site and had welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to evaluate the power-line construction project and to determine the boundaries of the site. At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee called upon the Centre and IUCN to field a mission to Canaima as soon as security clearance from the UN Resident Co-ordinator for Venezuela was obtainable. The Committee requested that the findings of the mission and its recommendation concerning whether Canaima needs to be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger be submitted to the twenty-third session of the Bureau in 1999.
A Centre/IUCN expert mission has been carried out to Caracas and Canaima National Park from 19 to 24 May 1999. The Terms of Reference for the mission had been derived from the Committee’s recommendation made at the time of the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List in 1994. The mission consulted with the Government and other stakeholders to determine the boundaries of the World Heritage site in order to strengthen the conservation of the Tepui portion of the nomination. In addition, the mission assessed threats to the site's integrity arising from the proposed power line construction project. The mission report was presented to the Bureau in information document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.18.
IUCN informed the Bureau of the conclusions of the mission:
(a) posts rather than transmission line towers were installed to minimise impacts. IUCN however considers that the transmission line should not have been allowed to penetrate into the Park, but recognised that this was not possible because of an area under dispute between Venezuela and Guyana; although the transmission line is not compatible with the objectives of Canaima National Park, it constitutes a localised impact, is distant from tourism areas and does not have any significant impact on the outstanding universal value of the site;
(b) some expansion of mining activities outside Las Claritas remain a potential threat;
(c) there is no evidence of deforestation; and
(d) tourism impacts, especially around Canaima Lake need a plan for sustainable tourism.
IUCN recommended that the boundaries of the World Heritage area should be the same as those of Canaima National Park and as there are strong ecological links between the Tepuis and the Gran Sabana. IUCN also drew the attention of the Bureau to the Short Term Action Plan as developed by the mission and the State Party.
The Observer of Venezuela thanked the Centre and IUCN for the mission to the site and expressed the commitment of her Government to fully protect the outstanding universal values of the site. Her statement is included in Annex V.
The Bureau noted and endorsed the recommendations made by the mission team as contained in the information document, in particular:
(1) to encourage the State Party to submit a request for technical assistance to organise and implement a national workshop on Canaima National Park;
(2) to request the Government to provide increased support to the National Park Institute (INPARQUES) and the Ministry for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (MARNR) and to explore ways to enhance the institutional capacity of these institutions;
(3) that MARNR and INPARQUES should give maximum priority to establishing a buffer zone around Canaima National Park, including Sierra de Lema;
(4) to recommend that an adequate follow-up to the implementation of the missions Short Term Action Plan, including the possible revision of the boundaries of the site;
(5) to invite the State Party to submit annual progress reports on the state of conservation of this site;
(6) to recommend that the State Party creates mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders interested in the conservation and management of this area.