1.         Sian Ka'an (Mexico) (N 410)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1987

Criteria  (vii)(x)

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/410/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/410/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Urban pression

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/410/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (SKBR) is located just 50 km South of the world-renowned tourist destination of Cancun.  Development pressures on this coastline are tremendous.  Recently, a 4 lane divided highway was completed from Cancun to Tulum, at the edge of the SKBR.  Over 2 million tourists visit the area just North of the SKBR annually; hotels and secondary residences are being constructed all along the coast to accommodate them.  In this context, development pressure on the limited (1,500 ha total) private land holdings within the SKBR is high. To provide a planning framework under which private landowners could develop their land, the governments of Mexico and of the State of Quintana Roo adopted a Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve Coastal Zone Environmental Land Use Programme in 2002.  Implementation of this programme has been under scrutiny by conservation NGO’s. A concise report was received from the State Party on 16 April 2004, indicating that all new development applications were being rigorously assessed as per the criteria set out in the Land Use Programme.  Of the 17 applications for construction permits made to date under the new regulations, nine have been approved, six have been turned down and two are still under revision.  Densities are very low and all approved projects include alternative sewage systems to reduce environmental impacts. 


The World Heritage Centre, in cooperation with the United Nations Foundation (UNF), The Nature Conservancy and Gillette Company, is participating in a US $780,000 private-public initiative to conserve Sian Ka’an wetlands.  Entitled “Conservation Action in the Yucatan Coastal Environment:  Sian Ka'an World Heritage property”, the project will acquire a critical tract of private land for conservation and support the implementation of the Environmental Land Use Programme for this World Heritage property.  Sian Ka’an continues to participate in the UNF/UNEP/UNESCO/RARE Centre for Tropical Conservation project to link sustainable tourism and biodiversity conservation. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15B.34

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Commending the State Party for its application of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve Coastal Zone Environmental Land Use Programme,

2. Welcomes the new project entitled “Conservation Action in the Yucatan Coastal Environment: Sian Ka'an World Heritage property”, managed by the World Heritage Centre and funded by the Gillette Company, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the United Nations Foundation.