On 31 January 2012, the States Parties (France and Spain) provided a joint report that contains information on transboundary management and pastoral activities. The report indicates efforts to minimize the impacts of the Gavarnie Festival, but does not suggest any solution for its relocation and provides no decisive element concerning the closure of the Troumouse Road.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that on 3 April 2012, the State Party of France transmitted to the World Heritage Centre a joint letter from the Prefect of the Hautes-Pyrénées and the President of the General Council of the Hautes-Pyrénées concerning the status of requests made by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 34 COM 7B.39, including the relocation of the Gavarnie Festival and improvement in transboundary management.
a) Transboundary management arrangements
The State Parties informed that in 2011, the Transboundary Monitoring and Management Committee became the Joint Steering Committee comprising representatives of the two States concerned as well as the local authorities and, from the Spanish side, the breeders. A Charter of Cooperation (2010-2020) was signed between the two Parks in December 2010, to supervise transboundary management and cooperation. It will promote the enhancement of the site inscribed as World Heritage, and the implementation of a network of natural areas. The Charter of Cooperation indicates that a joint annual meeting shall be devoted to the training of field staff. A transboundary conservation and enhancement programme of the site was established (2012-2014) and is provided in annex to the joint report of the States Parties. Moreover, in this report, the States Parties inform that the members of the two parks preside in their respective jurisdictions.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies favourably welcome the representation of the Spanish breeders within the Joint Steering Committee but given the importance of the pastoral issue, are surprised by their absence from the French side. They consider that agro-pastoralism should be part of the main subjects treated by the transboundary conservation and enhancement programme of the site (2012-2014). The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the actions concerning the scientific knowledge and the conservation of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value of the property are not sufficiently dealt with in the Charter of Cooperation. Furthermore, they note that the associative levels of the members of the two parks sitting in their respective jurisdictions are not equal: in one case it is the scientific council, in another the Patronat.
b) Agro-pastoral activities
The State Parties indicate that significant financial support has been allocated for agro-pastoral activities. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies however note that the elements provided by the State Party of Spain on built heritage and landscapes remains too general. They note that the 2012-2014 Action Plan does not place sufficient emphasis on pastoralism in its sustainable development action.
c) Impacts of the Gavarnie Festival
The State Party of France recalls that no acceptable solution for relocation has been found to date. It underlines the efforts undertaken to diminish the impacts, considering that the environmental impact is almost nil. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that this affirmation is not accompanied by any valid element to support this assertion. The Fébus Theatre Association for the Gavarnie Festival informs of a cultural project but provides no details. As regard the 2012-2014 Action Plan, it mentions the preparation of a methodological best practice guide. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that that this is not a cultural project but a practical guide. Finally, the Association, as the State Party, mentions the creation of specifications to supervise all the technical and logistical actions of the Festival, without however, providing any details.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the letter transmitted on 3 April 2012 by the State party of France indicates that all attempts to relocate the Gavarnie Festival have failed, highlights the actions undertaken to mitigate the negative impacts of the Festival and indicates that, according to local authorities, the impact of the Festival on the property is nil. Further, this letter recalls the strong opposition of the Prefect of the Hautes-Pyrénées and the President of the General Council of the Hautes-Pyrénées, as well as the Member of Parliament and Mayor of Gavarnie, with regard to the relocation of the Festival.
However, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the letter does not provide any clear details concerning the measures taken to diminish the negative impacts of the Festival. They consider that the major threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property persists. Furthermore, they confirm that the location of the Festival in the most scenic area of the World Heritage property remains incompatible with the aesthetic values of its natural landscape for which the property was explicitly inscribed.
d) Closure of the Troumouse Road
The State Party of France indicates that the study on possible solutions for the Troumouse Road, which should have begun in 2010, is almost completed and should be examined by the Pilot Committee during the winter 2011-2012. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are concerned with the delay in this study and emphasize that due to this fact, the World Heritage Committee cannot discuss this issue in 2012.
e) Other conservation issues
The report of the States Parties on the state of conservation of the property deals at length with the requests of the Committee, but no information is provided on the evolution of the heritage values for which the property was inscribed. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the report should also mention the observations and analyses on the general state of conservation of the property and trends.
Moreover, a common draft Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value concerning the property was submitted on 1 February 2011, as requested by the Committee, and is being revised by the Advisory Bodies.