State of Conservation (SOC)
Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands) (2004)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Mining, Oil/Gas and Exploration
Landscape Territorial Plan
Current conservation issues
The State Party informed the Centre via letter dated 2 February 2004 that the region of Sicily is looking for an adequate solution with regard to requests to enlarge or to open new pumice quarries. These would require Environmental Impact Assessments according to the legal provisions in force. The Pumex Society presented a proposal for landscaping and rehabilitating the areas.
IUCN noted that the authorities are seeking the most appropriate solutions to requests to enlarge and open new pumice quarries. Some initiatives have also been launched with the goal of creating new jobs to replace jobs lost in the extractive industry. In relation to this the State Party has sought IUCN’s advice on a proposal from the Pumex Society, holder of the mining concession, which seeks to enhance the urban areas and surrounding landscapes and reorganization of mining activities. The State Party has extended an invitation to IUCN to send a mission to the site if necessary.
The objectives of the proposal of the Pumex Society are to: maintain the characteristics and values of the landscape; respect the geological and vulcanological characteristics; Conserve the historic and cultural values linked to the history of man’s activity in extracting pumice stone; promote the characteristics and the use of the historic and technological heritage of pumice stone on the Island of Lipari, through cultural tourism; and preserve the exploitation activity and commercialization of pumice stone at the international level due to its important economic implications.
The proposal includes four areas of activities: environmental recuperation of areas currently being exploited; the current site of exploitation is on the north east side of the Lipari Island and is clearly visible from the sea, even from a distance. The proposal is to stop all activity in the current location – outside the crater – and to transfer it to the interior of the crater, less visible from outside. The current location would then be rehabilitated. Continued mining of pumice stone areas of Monte Pelato, following a very ancient practice specifically destined for this exploitation. Recuperation and rehabilitation of derelict or unused industrial buildings into hotels and tourist services is promoted, and the development of a Pumice Stone Museum that shows the modern system of production is planned.
IUCN has also received information from some local NGOs. It has been informed that although regional authorities (Assessorato Regionale Territorio ed Ambiente) accepted in November 2002 that the quarries should be closed, the Mining Authority of Catania (another regional office) later accepted a request to keep the quarries working on a temporary basis. As a result, at least one NGO has brought the case to court and, at the time of the preparation of this document, IUCN has no further information on a decision on this issue.
IUCN noted that the mining of pumice stone is currently authorized at Lipari by a regional law. The NGOs are in opposition to this law, considered in contradiction to the Territorial Plan. They believe that the mining activity leads to the destruction of the landscape and its outstanding universal values.
Legambiente, a national NGO, has noted its opposition to the proposal by the Pumex Society as they believe it is in contradiction with the Landscape Plan; it has not been subject to adequate environmental impact assessments; and the rehabilitation work should involve the local community. Legambiente encourages the development of appropriate ecotourism in the World Heritage property, employing local communities in the conversion of the area into a site suitable for such activities and the subsequent development of ecotourism operations.
IUCN welcomed the positive proposal from the Pumex Society towards the environmental recuperation of areas currently being exploited within the site including the rehabilitation of unused industrial buildings into hotels and tourist services. These and other activities included in this proposal would assist in replacing jobs lost in the extractive industry. IUCN also welcomed the initiative of the State Party in sharing this information with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre. However, IUCN noted that the proposal to close the existing quarries in a highly visible part of the site and open new quarries within the crater is not an acceptable solution. Thus, IUCN reiterated its previous recommendation that no mining operations should take place in any World Heritage property and urged the State Party to take measures to stop mining activities in the site which are in contradiction with the Landscape Plan for the property. IUCN believes that at this point a mission to the property is not required.
Link to the decision
The World Heritage Committee, 1. Noting the report provided by the State Party that so far no further pumice quarries have been opened and no extension to the four existing quarries within the World Heritage property has been granted, 2. Welcomes the positive proposal from the Pumex Society, and the initiative of the State Party of informing IUCN of this proposal, for the environmental recuperation of areas currently being exploited within the property and the rehabilitation of unused industrial buildings into hotels and tourist services, thus assisting in replacing jobs lost in the extractive industry; 3. Urges the State Party to seek long-term solutions towards a closure of the existing quarries, to stop all mining activities in the World Heritage property and to keep the World Heritage Centre and IUCN informed about further developments.
Draft Decision: 28 COM 15B.26
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Noting the report provided by the State Party that so far no further pumice quarries have been opened and no extension to the four existing quarries within the World Heritage property has been granted,
2. Welcomes the positive proposal from the Pumex Society, and the initiative of the State Party of informing IUCN of this proposal, for the environmental recuperation of areas currently being exploited within the site and the rehabilitation of unused industrial buildings into hotels and tourist services, thus assisting in replacing jobs lost in the extractive industry;
3. Urges the State Party to seek long-term solutions towards a closure of the existing quarries, to stop all mining activities in the World Heritage property and to keep the World Heritage Centre and IUCN informed about further developments.
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The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).