1.         East Rennell (Solomon Islands) (N 854)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

Joint UNESCO/IUCN mission, 25 March to 12 April 2005.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

The UNESCO/IUCN mission from 25 March to 12 April 2005 noted that since inscription the New Zealand Government had initiated projects in ecotourism and small business development including the building of lodges, supply of canoes, motors, a vehicle, chainsaw and commencement of a bakery, restaurant, poultry and honey production.  An Ecotourism Plan and an outline of a Resource Management Plan have also been produced, the former also covering Marovo Lagoon.  This programme has been suspended since 2000, primarily because of civil unrest and political instability, leaving a number of projects pending completion.  All other initiatives that had been started have stalled.  A US$ 20,000 project funded by the Japan Funds-in-Trust to assess the cultural and cultural landscape values of Rennell Island has also been cancelled since 2000 due to civil unrest. 

The mission reviewed the following key issues:

a)  State of Conservation of the PropertyManagement Framework: It was noted that there had been confusion regarding the general Management Framework and capacity within the property.  The resignation in 2000 and non-reappointment of the department’s World Heritage project officer, and confusion over the relative responsibilities of the Tourism Department and the National Museum, has resulted in a communicative breakdown.  The outbreak of civil unrest in June 2000 had a profound impact on the administration and management of the property.  The Solomon Islands’ Government became dysfunctional and was unable to attend to its World Heritage responsibilities.  There was little or no contact with East Rennell and no direct assistance was provided to the customary owners.  Government control is slowly returning, and discussions held with officials during the mission have been instrumental in bringing conservation issues back on to the Government’s agenda.  The mission further noted that the lack of Government support and the absence of any tangible World Heritage benefit to the majority of the customary owners has led to disappointment, confusion, and division within the community, with divergent management objectives.  It was noted that there are no immediate threats to the natural environment of the land, lake and the surrounding seas.  Increased use of motorized canoes has had so far minimal impact on the lake water quality.  There have been several cyclones, but these are natural events from which the indigenous vegetation and wildlife recover.  The cyclones have had severe short-term impacts on the local communities through destruction of buildings and gardens.  There have been some suggestions of logging development, forest planting, mining and fisheries in or around the property, but none of these appears likely to occur in the near future.

b)  Preparation of the National World Heritage Legislation: There has been no attempt to further develop the draft national World Heritage Protection Bill or pass the legislation.  A letter, dated 12 April 2005, from the Director of Tourism to the Director of the World Heritage Centre notes that his Department is now collaborating with the Department of Conservation and Environment to develop the legislation.

c)  Resource Management Plan for East Rennell: The mission verified that no specific progress had been made regarding the request of the 27th and 28th sessions of the Committee on progress in relation to the resource Management Plan.  The 1998 draft Resource Management Plan outline has not been further developed.  The above mentioned letter from the Director of Tourism notes that work is now being undertaken to prepare the Plan.  Preparation of the Plan has also recently been included in the workplan of the Department of Environment and Conservation.  There is no Management Plan for the property.  Consequently, there is no framework for determining the World Heritage management objectives or for developing, prioritising and implementing projects for protection and sustainable resource management. 

The mission further noted the need to redefine World Heritage status in lieu of unrealistic expectations among members of the local community in regard to rural development.  It was anticipated that World Heritage status would bring immediate benefits, especially financial, to all the people.  It was also expected there would be substantial improvements of schools, medical centres, transport infrastructure, housing and enhanced tourism.  The absence of such benefits has led to disappointment, confusion, suspicion, division and anger within the community. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.10

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.12, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3. Thanks the Solomon Islands National Museum for its coordination and support of the visit to the property by the joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission to assess the state of conservation of East Rennell;

4. Commends the local communities for conserving the property during the civil unrest in the country;

5. Expresses its concerns regarding the lack of Government support to the property;

6. Requests that the State Party of the Solomon Islands:

a) completes the draft World Heritage Protection Bill and passes it into legislation as soon as possible;

b) prepares a World Heritage management plan for the East Rennell property as soon as possible;

c) supports customary owners in the management and conservation of the property; and

d) increases the public awareness of the World Heritage property through appropriate promotional, advocacy and educational opportunities;

7. Encourages the State Party to establish a single representative body within the East Rennell community for overseeing the East Rennell World Heritage Management Plan and assisting in coordinating any World Heritage projects or other related actions;

8. Requests the State Party to ensure endorsement and support of the Management Plan; and to establish a World Heritage sub-commission within the National Commission for UNESCO to oversee the implementation of the Management Plan and its associated projects;

9. Also requests the State Party to submit a report to the World Heritage Centre on the progress made in the implementation of the above recommendations by 1 February 2007 for examination by the Committee at its 31st session (2007).