1.         Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) (N 196)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1996-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1982-1996)
Total amount approved: USD 198,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Committee included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996, and requested the State Party to implement the eleven-point corrective action plan that had been endorsed by the Minister for the Environment of Honduras. As a priority activity the elaboration of a management plan is being carried out with assistance from the World Heritage Fund (US$ 30,000) and from a GTZ-KFW (Germany), large scale project for strengthening the conservation of Rio Platano. At its last session (Naples, 1997) the Committee requested the Centre and IUCN to plan a site visit in 1999 to review the state of conservation of this site.

IUCN received information that a hydroelectric development (Patuca II), is proposed near the reserve. A draft environmental impact statement terms of reference has been prepared. Potential impacts from the project would include opening of new access roads, reduction in downstream water flow and quality and loss of scenic and biodiversity values. IUCN and the Centre are currently seeking further details.

Action Required

The Bureau recommends that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger pending a review of the site's state of conservation foreseen during 1999.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Committee may recall the fact that it included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996, and requested the State Party to implement the eleven-point corrective action plan that had been endorsed by the Minister for the Environment of Honduras. The elaboration of a management plan for Rio Plátano is being carried out with a contribution of US$ 30,000 from the World Heritage Fund, as part of a large scale project for strengthening the conservation of Rio Plátano financed by GTZ-KFW (Germany). The Bureau, at its twenty-second ordinary session (June,1998), learnt from IUCN that a hydroelectric development project (Patuca II) is proposed for implementation near the Reserve. Terms of reference for a draft environmental impact assessment of the development project have been prepared; potential impacts of the project include opening of new access roads to the Reserve, reduction in downstream water flow and quality, and the loss of scenic and bio­diversity values. The Bureau urged that IUCN and the Centre report on details concerning the hydroelectric development project to the twenty-second session of the Committee and recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger, pending a review of its state of conservation in 1999.

IUCN has informed the Centre that it has received a large number of communications on the hydroelectric development project (Patuca II) particularly showing the concern and disagreement of a number of indigenous peoples living in and around the area who will be affected by the project. According to these reports, the Government is promoting the rapid implementation of this project and the process for preparing an EIA, which is currently underway, lacks consultation and transparency. Reports received also indicate a plan for opening a new road. IUCN has pointed out the need to obtain detailed information on this project in order to undertake a thorough review of its potential threats to the integrity of the site.

 

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The Secretariat reported that Hurricane Mitch swept over Central America during the final days of October 1998, causing heavy rains and storms and inundating important parts of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. The region has a number of World Heritage sites, including:

El Salvador:             de Ceren Archaeological Site

Guatemala:          Tikal National Park

Antigua Guatemala

Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua

Honduras:      Maya site of Copan

Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (on the Danger List)

Nicaragua:     The site of Leon Viejo, recognized by the Bureau as having World Heritage values, but not inscribed as yet.

 

The Secretariat informed that heavy rains and storms have caused serious flooding in the excavated areas of the extremely fragile site of de Ceren in El Salvador as well as damage the roofs that protect the excavated structures. A request for emergency assistance for an amount of US$ 35,000 was under consideration by the Chairperson.

Serious damage was also reported to Leon in Nicaragua. No information had been obtained as of yet on the properties in Honduras and Guatemala.

 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 22 BUR V.A.8

The Bureau recalled that the Committee included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996, and requested the State Party to implement the eleven-point corrective action plan that had been endorsed by the Minister for the Environment of Honduras. The Bureau noted that the elaboration of a management plan is being carried out with a contribution of US$ 30,000 from the World Heritage Fund, as part of a large scale project for strengthening the conservation of Rio Platano financed by GTZ-KFW (Germany). Furthermore, the Bureau learnt from IUCN that a hydroelectric development project (Patuca II), is proposed for implementation near the Reserve. Terms of reference for a draft environmental impact assessment have been prepared; potential impacts of the project would include opening of new access roads, reduction in downstream water flow and quality, and the loss of scenic and bio-diversity values. 

The Bureau urged IUCN and the Centre to obtain more details concerning the hydroelectric development project and to report to the twenty-second session of the Committee. It recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger pending a review of its state of conservation foreseen during 1999.

Decision Adopted: 22 COM VII.42

VII.42 World Heritage sites in Central America

The Secretariat reported that Hurricane Mitch swept over Central America during the final days of October 1998, causing heavy rains and storms and inundating important parts of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. The region has a number of World Heritage sites, including:

El Salvador: Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site

Guatemala: Tikal National Park

Antigua Guatemala

Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua

Honduras: Maya site of Copan

Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (on the Danger List)

Nicaragua: The site of Leon Viejo, recognised by the Bureau as having World Heritage values, but not inscribed as yet.

The Secretariat informed of serious flooding in the excavated areas of the extremely fragile site of Joya de Ceren in El Salvador as well as damage to the roofs that protect the excavated structures. A request for emergency assistance for an amount of US$ 35,000 was under consideration by the Chairperson. Serious damage was also reported to Leon Viejo in Nicaragua. During the session, the Observer of Guatemala informed that no major damage had occurred to the monuments of Tikal or Quirigua, but that flooding destroyed the infrastructure at Quirigua and had left behind a thick layer of mud in Quirigua and Antigua Guatemala. Some churches in Antigua Guatemala were also affected. No information had been obtained on the properties in Honduras.

The Committee expressed its sincere regrets and serious concern about the loss of life and destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in the countries of Central America. It expressed its readiness to collaborate with the authorities in the States Parties concerned in assessing damage that may have been caused to the World Heritage in the region and in taking remedial actions that may be necessary for their preservation or restoration.

The Committee requested the Secretariat to transmit the above to the States Parties concerned and to provide, jointly with the advisory bodies, a full report on the conditions of the World Heritage in the region to the twenty-third session of the Bureau.

During the examination of this matter, ICOMOS stressed the need to incorporate risk preparedness schemes in overall planning activities. It drew the attention of the Committee to the Manual for Risk Preparedness for Cultural Properties that it recently published in collaboration with ICCROM with funds provided from the World Heritage Fund.

 

Decision Adopted: 22 COM VII.8

VII.8 Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)

The Committee recalled the fact that it included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996, and requested the State Party to implement the eleven-point corrective action plan that had been endorsed by the Minister for the Environment of Honduras. The elaboration of a management plan for Rio Platano is being carried out with a contribution of US$ 30,000 from the World Heritage Fund, as part of a large scale project for strengthening the conservation of Rio Platano financed by GTZKFW (Germany). The Committee was informed of a hydroelectric development project (Patuca II), proposed for implementation near the Reserve. Terms of reference for a draft environmental impact assessment of the development project have been prepared; potential impacts of the project include opening of new access roads to the Reserve, reduction in downstream water flow and quality, and the loss of scenic and bio-diversity values. The Committee noted that IUCN has received a large number of reports on the hydroelectric development project, reflecting in particular the concern and disagreement of a number of indigenous peoples living in and around the area. According to these reports, the Government is promoting the rapid implementation of this project, and the process for preparing an EIA, currently underway, lacks consultation and transparency. Reports received also indicate a plan for opening a new road. Furthermore, the Committee noted that communications with relevant authorities in Honduras have become difficult following recent damages caused to the country's infrastructure by Hurricane Mitch and information on the damage caused by the hurricane to this site need to be urgently obtained.

The Committee decided to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requested the Centre to contact the State Party to obtain detailed information on the proposed hydroelectric development project, including on EIA which is currently under preparation, as well as on the impact of Hurricane Mitch on Rio Platano. Moreover, the Committee requested the State Party to invite the Centre and IUCN to undertake a site visit with a view to providing a detailed state of conservation report on Rio Platano to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.