1.         Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal) (N 120)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (vii)

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/120/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 232,097
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

December 2002: IUCN monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

A brief report updating the state of conservation of the property was received from the State Party on 1 February 2012. The report responds to issues raised by the Committee in Decision 34 COM 7B.16.

a) Development of tourism resort in core area

The State Party reconfirms earlier advice that an illegal foot trail constructed between Thame and Kongde was halted and that no tourists are using this trail. The State Party further informs that the issue of the Kongde View Resort has not yet been decided by the Supreme Court of Nepal and that the Committee will be promptly informed once a decision is reached by the court.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN wish to underscore the protracted nature of the legal process for the Kongde View Resort, coupled with the fact that this resort is reported to have been operating since 2007 and legal proceedings have been unresolved since then. IUCN recalls previous advice from the State Party that the Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) Management and Tourism Plan (2007-2012) identifies the Kongde region as a special protection zone because of its unique and best habitat for musk deer in SNP, amplifying concerns that this resort development may be impacting on an area of high conservation value.

b) Strengthening management and tourism planning

The State Party reports that tourism is being managed in accordance with the SNP Management and Tourism Plan and in collaboration with local communities and stakeholders. Furthermore, though without providing any quantitative details, it reports on a number of training and capacity building initiatives, as well as a significant increase in annual park budgets. The State Party conclude that there is no observed significant negative impact from tourism.

The State Party also reports on plans to review the SNP Tourism and Management Plan for the period 2013-2017. In line with the Committee’s Decision 34COM 7B.16, the State Party requests international technical assistance to review the management of a range of tourism issues including setting carrying capacities and appropriate levels of tourism infrastructure development.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall previous state of conservation reports, the previous IUCN mission (2002) and information from local stakeholders which assert that tourism is having significant impact. IUCN has received reports which suggest that tourism related waste management is still a major concern, and that well publicised garbage removal initiatives by mountaineering groups and the clean-up of high use trails may be giving a false impression and masking underlying problems with waste in other less visited areas.

These reports suggest that tourism impacts remain a significant threat to the property’s values. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN therefore welcome the commitment to seek international assistance and look forward to working with the Nepali Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation to develop a constructive package of support.

c) Declaration of a Buffer Zone to the World Heritage property

The State Party confirms briefly its intention to submit documentation related to the inclusion of the existing Buffer Zone of Sagarmatha National Park, as a recognised buffer zone to the property and informs that this process is underway. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are willing to provide advice to further assist the State Party to consider this proposal, and determine the most effective means to propose it. They note that the proposal to create a buffer zone would be considered normally through the minor boundary modification process. They recommend that the proposal indicate clearly how the buffer zone would be managed to enhance protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. 

d) Other conservation issues of concern

The State Party reports on a range of positive initiatives with respect to management of endangered species; sustainable use of natural resources, pollution control, alternative energy schemes and wildlife poaching. These include collaboration with the Nepal Army and awareness raising programmes with local porters to overcome impacts from poaching and threats to endangered flora and fauna. Furthermore the State Party notes that the collection of non-timber forest products is not a significant concern as most locals are deriving their income from tourism. The report notes the implementation of various alternative energy schemes in the Buffer Zone which aim to reduce pressure on firewood collection. Finally the report speaks to a range of activities to control pollution in collaboration with the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, however, no details are provided.

The initiatives noted are welcomed by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN as positive contributions to addressing long-term threats to the values of the property. However, the lack of detail within the State Party report does not allow a more in-depth assessment of the effectiveness of these measures. Moreover previous state of conservation monitoring has highlighted a range of other issues such as the threat of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), social impacts on Sherpa communities and other ethnic groups, localised quarrying for building materials, and aircraft access and management, none of which are discussed in the report submitted by the State Party.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Committee may take particular note with concern of the continued opearion of the Kongde View Resort within the property and the protracted process of the legal case concerning its future. Legal proceedings have been on-going for more than 5 years and the tourist resort is reportedly continuing to operate. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee express its increased concerned about the range of conservation issues and threats which are impacting the property; past state of conservation reports together with information received by IUCN indicating complex environmental, social and economic factors which affect the property; and invite the State Party to consult IUCN, including the Mountains Biome Specialist Group of the World Commission on Protected Areas(WCPA) for technical advice on the overall state of conservation of the property with particular attention to the impacts of the Kongde View Resort and tourism on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.,

They recall that the most recent monitoring mission to the property was over 10 years ago, and consider the Government of Nepal might wish to invite the WCPA Mountains Biome to undertake an advisory mission to assess these issues and to provide a more complete picture of the state of conservation of the property. Such a mission could also facilitate the recommended designation of a buffer zone to the property, in line with the reflection of providing upstream support to States Parties on nomination of sites.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.14

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.16, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.  Acknowledges the information provided by the State Party on the on-going actions to address conservation issues at the property, and urges the State Party to continue these efforts;

4.  Reiterates its concern that the legal process has not been completed with respect to the Kongde View Resort which is within the property’s core area and is reportedly still operating, and also urges the State Party to submit the verdict to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is issued by the Supreme court;

5.  Recommends the State Party to consult the Mountains Biome Specialist Group of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas for technical advice on the overall state of conservation of the property with particular attention to the impacts of the Kongde View Resort and tourism on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and the proposed buffer zone, and also to consider the possibility of inviting an advisory mission by the Mountains Biome Specialist Group to the property to provide advice on these matters;

6.  Welcomes the commitment of the State Party to:

a)  Revise the Sagarmatha National Park Tourism and Management Plan for 2013-2017,

b)  Request international assistance in support of enhanced tourism planning, development and management, and

c)  Submit documentation to incorporate the Sagarmatha National Park buffer zone as a buffer zone to the World Heritage property, and to seek further advice on this proposal from IUCN;

7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and on the progress with respect to legal proceedings related to the Kongde View Resort, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E,

2.   Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;

3.   Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

4.   Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;

5.   Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: