1.         Pitons Management Area (Saint Lucia) (N 1161)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2004

Criteria  (vii)(viii)

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/1161/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 19,950
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1161/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

20-24 March 2010. Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1161/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 19 February 2013 a report on the state of conservation of Pitons Management Area was submitted by the State Party. The World Heritage Centre requested additional clarification on 28 February 2013 and 25 April 2013 regarding the reported weakening of the moratorium on development within the property. In response, the State Party submitted letters on March 18 2013 and 3 May 2013. The findings and recommendations of a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission, which visited the property from 20 to 24 March 2010, continue to serve as important background information. The mission report is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/34COM/.  The State Party also wrote to the World Heritage Centre and the Director General of IUCN on 11 March 2013 to correct some inaccurate statements that were made in the State Party report regarding support and advice provided to the property via IUCN’s Caribbean initiative, which has supported the State Party in commissioning the Limits of Acceptable Change study discussed below.

Development pressures associated with tourism and housing

In its state of conservation report, the State Party reaffirms its full commitment to the World Heritage property and reports on a number of activities. These include convening an unspecified ad hoc team of experts, reconstituting the Pitons Management Area Advisory Council (PMAAC) and the upgrading of the position and subsequent appointment of a Protected Area Manager responsible for the Pitons Management Area as of 1 November 2012. The State Party furthermore mentions the participation of the Pitons Management Area Office in a socio-economic monitoring research project. There is also reference to an initiative dedicated to the eradication of invasive alien species and the intention to possibly appoint two technical field experts.

The State Party notes that applications for residential and touristic development within the property continue to be submitted, with 95 applications currently pending, and that it has responded to this demand through an Executive Order of Cabinet Memo No. 58 dated 28 January 2013.  In the State Party report, this Executive Order is said to have approved several policy directions with immediate effect, including a moratorium on all new developments in certain zones and restrictions to develop "leisure and residential projects in selected locations subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)" in another zone. In yet another zone, development is to adhere to guidance suggested in a 2007 consultant report and another study which remains to be elaborated.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the affirmation of the State Party’s commitment to the property. However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the 2013 Executive Order No. 58, as described in the State Party’s report, clearly does not constitute a satisfactory management response and would enable further development within some zones within the property.  To seek to clarify the matter, further exchanges of letters between the World Heritage Centre and the State Party took place, with the final letter received by the World Heritage Centre on 3 May 2013.  It states that the Executive Order of Cabinet Memo No. 58 reaffirmed the moratorium on all developments within the property, and further states that all previous approvals had lapsed and that none had been renewed.  It also explains that all future development applications would have to adhere to the Hyder Report, and any new conditions established by the upcoming Limits to Acceptable Change study.  In this letter, the State Party explains that Executive Orders are confidential, and for this reason, a copy could not be forwarded to the World Heritage Centre.  Whilst this information appears to be largely reassuring that no developments that had previously been submitted will be permitted, it remains unclear if there remains a possibility that some developments could be permitted within the property if resubmitted, and without further scrutiny of these issues by the World Heritage Committee.

In the State Party’s letter to the World Heritage Centre, dated 4 April 2013, it indicated that the Limited of Acceptable Change study has been awarded to a consultancy firm and has now begun. Progress with this study is to be welcomed.  IUCN has also been able to provide some advice to the State Party regarding the Terms of Reference.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the World Heritage Committee repeatedly expressed strong concern about developments within the property and has annually requested state of conservation reports since 2007. Attempts by the State Party to address the development pressure go back to at least 2004. According to the IUCN evaluation in that year the Cabinet agreed to direct the Ministry of Physical Development, Environment and Housing and the Development Control Authority not to approve any major development within the PMA until a comprehensive Limits of Acceptable Change study is completed, and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Nevertheless, developments have since occurred which motivated the World Heritage Committee to express its concern about proposed hotel development that may compromise the superlative natural beauty of the property (Decision 31 COM 7B.42). Along similar lines, the World Heritage Committee expressed its concern about continuing development within the property in the following year, which, if not urgently addressed, is likely to lead to significant loss of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property (Decision 32 COM 7B.40). One year later, the World Heritage Committee communicated serious concern (Decision 33 COM 7B.39) that the State Party had not complied with all its requests, triggering a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property.

The findings of the reactive monitoring mission included a recommendation to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. While not following this recommendation due to a commitment made by the State Party to implement a complete moratorium, the World Heritage Committee again expressed concern about the approval of major development applications despite a requested moratorium and reiterated its request to urgently place a moratorium on development until such a time as new effective regulations are in place to determine if and where such developments could be permitted (Decision 34 COM 7B.37). Due to a lack of tangible progress, the World Heritage Committee subsequently reiterated its clear position that development within the property should be strictly circumscribed in order to avoid any deterioration of its OUV (Decision 35 COM 7B.35). The most recent World Heritage Committee decision (Decision 36 COM 7B.34) expressed grave concern that additional developments within the property were granted in 2011. Consequently, the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to issue a stop work order and to cancel the five development permits granted in 2011, and to not approve any additional developments until the Limits to Acceptable Change study, along with development regulations and guidelines, are completed and legally integrated into the development review process. The State Party was also asked to focus on progress in halting existing development permits within the property and World Heritage Committee.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party has reaffirmed its commitment, and has provided information on activities and future intentions, including the commissioning of the Limits of Acceptable Change study.  The State Party report provided a description of Executive Order No. 58 which raised concerns over the nature of the development moratorium in the property, and further information has been provided in an exchange of letters with the World Heritage Centre.  In the absence of a copy of the actual Executive Order 58, and given both the contradictory information presented in the report of the State Party and subsequent letters regarding its impact, and also the opportunity to consider if this provides a full protection of the property from the possibility of developments proceeding that could impact OUV, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN are of the view that further information on the protection of the property will be required by the World Heritage Committee.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the Pitons Management Area is one of the smallest natural World Heritage properties. The property faces a combination of development pressure associated with tourism and housing coinciding with the absence of a structured and enforced development control system, aggravated by limited financial and technical management capacity. The clear documentation of the pattern of ongoing development goes back as early as the nomination dossier, which refers to inappropriate land development as the single most important threat to the integrity of resources. The type of impact resulting from development is critical, as the visual landscape beauty is a fundamental element of the basis for the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN conclude that there is a longstanding history of inconsistent development control efforts in the property which has impacted its integrity. A previous moratorium was not successful in stopping development application approvals.  Though the renewed imposition of a moratorium as clarified in the State Party’s letter of 3 May 2013 is welcome, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN are of the view that it is essential that the moratorium remain fully in place and effective, across the whole extent of the property, until clear development control regulations are finalized to the satisfaction of the World Heritage Committee, and applied through the necessary legislative instruments, and based on the results of the Limits of Acceptable Change study.  Should development once again be allowed to take place before this time, the integrity of the property would clearly be compromised, and lead to the need to consider the inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.  

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.32

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.34 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Also recalling the State Party’s intervention at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), in which it committed to a strict moratorium on further development within the property,

4.  Further recalling the repeatedly stated concerns by the World Heritage Committee that the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) may already have been significantly, and potentially irreversibly, compromised by past developments within the property,

5.  Takes note of the activities reported in the State Party's report on the state of conservation of the property, including commissioning the Limits of Acceptable Change study, and welcomes the efforts by the State Party to improve the protection and management of the property;

6.  Notes the clear statement from the State Party that, through Cabinet Order No. 58, as approved on 28 January 2013, a full moratorium on all development in the property will be observed, and that “all previous development approvals have lapsed, and none have been renewed”;

7.  Considers essential that the moratorium on all development remains fully in place and effective, across the whole extent of the property, until clear development control regulations are finalized to the satisfaction of the World Heritage Committee, and applied through the necessary legislative instruments, and based on the results of the Limits of Acceptable Change study;

8.  Also considers that, should development once again be allowed to take place before this time, the integrity of the property would clearly be compromised, leading to consideration of the inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

9.  Requests the State Party, as construction may not have commenced, to not approve any additional developments until the Limits to Acceptable Change study, along with development regulations and guidelines, are completed and legally integrated into the development review process;

10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , a report on the state of conservation of the property, focusing specifically on progress in establishing an effective development control system, and confirming the effective and continued implementation on development within the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.