An ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was undertaken from 22 to 25 April 2010, to assess the state of conservation of the property. The subsequent World Heritage Decision 34 COM 7B.50 commended the State Party for its work in bringing about considerable improvements, but expressed concern over some aspects of the conservation, in particular the uncontrolled development in Macuti Town and the insufficient number of technical staff in charge of management issues. It requested copies of the Management Plan for approval and the submission of a state of conservation report by 1 February 2012. The mission report also mentioned that further work was required on buildings’ stabilization and the still inadequate provision of sanitation.
On 18 March 2012 the State Party sent a state of conservation report in Portuguese to the World Heritage Centre along with a document concerning the revision of the buffer zone’s delimitation. The English version of the report was received on 30 April 2012.
a) Uncontrolled development in Macuti Town
The 2010 mission reported that the authenticity of Macuti Town was threatened by uncontrolled development impacting on the historic urban features. It had therefore urged the cessation of all new development and welcomed the authorities’ consideration to relocate some residents. It also noted unsatisfactory water and sewerage conditions in the property, especially in Macuti Town, including the abandonment of the effective traditional water storage.
The State Party reports that relocation of residents to newly established residential plots has been planned, with 53 requests for relocation received in 2010. In addition, new sanitation facilities both for the Macuti Town and the new residential areas have been constructed and operations are in progress to sanitize and designate beaches for leisure purposes. The World Bank, with Australian Funds, intends to develop a programme of water supply mainly to Macuti and the new Millennium Village on the main land and the Conservation Office of Mozambique Island (GACIM) has recommended the recuperation of elements of the historic water storage system for this pupose.
The report describes the resurfacing of the coast road in the eastern zone of Mozambique Island improving flood control. Further, a study of 180 houses out of 1330 in Macuti Town undertaken in 2010 with funding from the Flemish Government has been added to the built heritage archive of GACIM.
b) Management Plan and its implementation
The 2010 mission had recommended increasing efforts for the implementation of the 2006 Emergency Plan especially with regard to sustainable emergency conservation of buildings, development control measures in Macuti Town, and an enhanced participatory approach to conservation and management.
The State Party reports that the completed Management Plan has been approved by the Ministry of Culture in 2010 and three copies (in Portuguese with an executive summary in English) have been sent to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies.
The report states that the Ministry of Culture, with the support of the World Heritage Centre and in the framework of the World Heritage Cities Programme, organized, in 2011, a seminar on the management approach for Historic Urban Landscapes with funding from the Flemish Funds in Trust to debate issues of appropriate conservation, management and sustainable housing in the property. Subsequent field research conducted in partnership between the regional Lúrio University (Mozambique), Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands) and University of Minnesota (USA), surveyed open spaces on the island and developed a cadastral map for GACIM to strengthen management tools. The results of the work were presented to stakeholders on the island.
c) Capacity building and Increase of Technical staff in GACIM
The 2010 mission and Decision 34COM 7B.50 encouraged the employment of further technical staff to improve the management of the property.
The State Party reports that the necessary administrative measures are being taken to prioritise employment by GACIM of further architects, researchers and technicians; furthermore, training of civil servants in heritage matters has been undertaken and new agreements have been established whereby staff for management of the Underwater Heritage Area are to be retained and recruited.
In 2011, the State Party organized a stakeholders’ seminar to raise awareness and discuss the potential ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Finally, a project funded by Finland trains tourist operators in English language.
d) Implementation of Emergency Plan and Legal Framework
The 2010 mission report and Decision 34 COM 7B.50 requested further implementation of the 2006 Emergency Plan in strengthening the legal framework for management of the property.
The State Party reports that the Management and Conservation Plan of Mozambique Island will now guide the actions formerly promoted by the Emergency Plan. The reinforcement of the legal structure is underway, and this will extend to the buffer zone.
Some of the objectives from the Emergency Plan remain pending, such as the creation of a Common Fund for the Preservation of Mozambique Island, and the establishment of a co-ordinating structure with partners to facilitate conservation and restoration activities. The latter, however, might be encouraged by an international conference to be held in 2012 on the conservation of the island.
e) Buffer Zone
Decision 34 COM 7B.50 invited the State Party to enlarge the buffer zone of the property to facilitate the protection of the archaeological underwater areas.
The State Party agrees that protection should be extended to Mossuril bay for the protection of both ecological and cultural features, though makes no mention of underwater wrecks or the necessity for marine archaeological survey. It states that the extension of the buffer zone is under active discussion in particular at Ministerial level of decision. Although the submitted document concerning the buffer zone indicates an extension in this spirit, the World Heritage Centre sent it back to the State Party for clarification to comply with the procedure outlined in the Operational Guidelines.
f) Conservation and Development Projects
The mission had recommended that further work on the stabilization and conservation of buildings be undertaken, in particular at the Saint Sebastian Fortress with an important social implication, as well as removal of illegal and inappropriate development which threatened the authenticity of the property.
The State Party lists a number of on-going rehabilitation projects including the rehabilitation of the platform bridge, the bridge connecting the island with the mainland, the telecommunication building and the museum, along with 22 other rehabilitation projects of public and private buildings, financed by the Mozambique Government, the Norwegian Embassy for the museum project, and others. The State Party mentions 12 more major works currently being considered and developed. Some of these are located in the extended buffer zone and include new tourist developments which may require review by the World Heritage Committee. The success of the State Party in organizing and developing projects with partnership funding is noteworthy.
The State Party report does not mention the second phase of the rehabilitation project of the Saint Sebastian Fortress, launched in March 2012 shortly after submission of the report. The project, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, will rehabilitate an extended gallery block to host the documentation centre of Mozambique Island (CEDIM) created in 2011 by the regional University of Lúrio in cooperation with the Government of Mozambique and UNESCO. Works will also include repair of the low level batteries of the fortress damaged by a cyclone in 2008 and funded by the International Emergency Assistance granted in 2009. The documentation centre should catalyze further rehabilitations within the complex in alignment with the overall reuse-plan of the fortress.