1.         Henderson Island (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (N 487)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

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/487/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1990-1990)
Total amount approved: USD 8,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/487/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Invasive species

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/487/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 26 January 2012, a concise report on the state of conservation of HendersonIsland was submitted by the State Party. The report describes the initiation of the rat eradication programme on the island during the second half of 2011, comments on the possibility of deploying a ranger on the island, as requested by Decision 34 COM 7B.27, and gives a brief update about other measures taken by the State Party to protect the integrity of the natural values of the property.

a) Rat eradication

The State Party reports that a rat eradication programme, which is coordinated by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and partly funded by the Government of the United Kingdom, was initiated on Henderson Island in the second half of 2011. The State Party notes that the potential impact on non-target species was carefully assessed, and does not expect significant impacts on other species. According to the HendersonIsland newsletter, published by the RSPB and the Government of Pitcairn Islands, the Henderson Crake had been identified as being potentially at risk from non-target poisoning, but the establishment of a captive population of this species during the rat eradication operation has minimized the impacts on its wild population. The State Party notes that no signs of rats were observed on the island during 11 weeks following the bait drops but that confirmation of the success of the eradication programme will be ensured through a monitoring expedition, which is scheduled for 2013. According to the RSPB, a two-year monitoring period is required because surviving residual populations of the Polynesian Rat would only be detectable after a recovery period. The State Party expects that, if the rat eradication programme has been successful, populations of the ground-nesting Henderson Petrel on the island will increase by up to a factor of 100 over the coming 70 to 100 years.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN emphasize the crucial importance of the successful finalization of the rat eradication programme for safeguarding the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Henderson Island as predation by the Polynesian Rat on chicks of ground nesting Pterodroma petrels, including the globally endangered Henderson Petrel P. atrata, is the single most serious threat to the OUV of the property. It is therefore important to confirm the success of the eradication programme.

b) Ranger Post

The State Party notes that a full-time ranger will not be deployed at HendersonIsland until biosecurity issues have been fully assessed and the necessary biosecurity measures have been taken, particularly in relation to the risk of a re-introduction of rats. The State Party also notes that it is in the process of stengthening biosecurity measures, but does not provide any information on what these efforts entail.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that, while the deployment of a permanent ranger on the island requires an assessment of biosecurity issues and corresponding measures, the presence of the Ranger Post itself is a crucial measure to prevent new introduction of invasive species through uncontrolled visitation. Therefore, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider the finalization of the biosecurity assessment/measures and the establishment of the Ranger Post an urgent priority for the conservation of the property’s values.

c) Other measures

The State Party has provided a copy of the updated Henderson Island World Heritage Site Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre. No other conservation issues affecting HendersonIsland have been reported by the State Party. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the submission of the updated Management Plan.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the progress achieved in the implementation of the rat eradication programme on Henderson Island and highlight the crucial importance of its successful finalization for safeguarding the property’s OUV. They consider that the establishment of a permanent Ranger Post on the island remains urgent, in order to prevent future re-introductions of Polynesian Rat or new introductions of other invasive species through uncontrolled visitation. They recommend that the Committee urges the State Party to finalize the necessary preparatory biosecurity assessments and precautions as a matter of priority, and to appoint a permanent Ranger on Henderson Island as soon as possible.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.26

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2.  Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.27, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.  Welcomes the progress made by the State Party in the implementation of the rat eradication programme, and the reported preliminary results indicating the success of the eradication operation with minimal negative impacts on non-target species;

4.  Urges the State Party, in close cooperation with the Pitcairn authorities and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, to rapidly finalize biosecurity assessments and the strengthening of biosecurity measures, and to establish a permanent Ranger Post at the property as soon as possible, in order to prevent the (re-)introduction of rats or other invasive species through uncontrolled visitation;

5.  Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, the final result of the rat eradication programme, and the progress achieved in the establishment of a permanent Ranger Post.