On 27 February 2012, the State Party submitted a brief state of conservation report to the World Heritage Centre, which included an updated retrospectiveStatement of Outstanding Universal Value (RSOUV), along with a proposed Desired state of conservationfor the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, developed in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre during the reactive monitoring mission from 22 to 25 November 2011. The mission was not able to visit the property due to security concerns expressed by the United Nations Department of Safety and Security, but instead held consultation meetings with the State Party and other stakeholders in the capital Bogota. The State Party noted during the mission that for the past three years, due to an agreement with the armed forces of Colombia, there has been more frequent patrols in the area, and that insecurity was no longer a concern of the National Parks Service in carrying out its mandate in the area. The mission report is available online at the following web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/36COM.
In Decision 34 COM 7A.14, the Committee requested the State Party to implement a set of interim corrective measures. Based on the State Party report and the information collected by the monitoring mission, the following progress is reported:
a) Complete and implement the control and monitoring Action Plan, including the construction of ranger stations, the provision of equipment and the maintenance of adequate numbers of park personnel
A Local Action Plan for Prevention, Control and Monitoring was adopted in 2011, accompanied by a formal monitoring strategy. The Plan outlines the various management issues on a sector by sector basis along with a detailed threats analysis. It also aims to identify priorities and mechanisms through which management can involve local communities.
The State Party has completed the refurbishment and furnishing of five strategically located ranger stations in and around the property, with another three expected to be completed in 2012. Extensive signage has been installed and, at the time of the mission, 22 persons were reported to be working for the Park, though the February 2012 State Party report indicates only 16. The State Party is aware of the precarious nature of its capacity to manage the property. It indicates that several park staff are currently paid through project financing that comes to an end at the end of 2012. This impermanent nature of park staff puts in doubt the State Party’s long term capacity to ensure effective control and surveillance work in and around the property.
Monitoring of fisheries are a specific target of the monitoring plan as communities living next to the property are highly dependent on freshwater fish for their subsistence, but until recently, the State Party had no information on the sustainability of their catches. A participatory fish catch monitoring programme was established two years ago, and with the information being gathered, the State Party will soon be in the position to draw conclusions on this practice, and adopt corresponding management measures. The perennity of this effort will depend on sustainable financing, which has not yet been secured.
Water pollution, cited in the 2008 State Party report to the Committee, emanates in most part from a community located close to the boundaries of the property. The pollution is mostly made up of human and solid waste. As this community is located on this large river, downstream from the property, any pollution so generated is quickly diluted and washed further out beyond the property boundaries. The State Party indicated that there are reports of fishing practices using toxic chemicals, though there is no information on the extent to which this is taking place.
Based on the State Party’s affirmations, the pollution emanating from the small downstream human settlements does not appear to pose a serious threat to the property, but the use of toxic chemicals for fishing should be strictly prohibited.
b) Prevent illegal logging within the property by establishing the capacity, at site level, to apprehend and bring to justice the instigators of such activities, and by carrying out communication campaigns with the local communities
Dialogue between the National Parks Agency and the pertinent government agencies responsible for forest management is on-going, in an effort to ensure that only legal timber enters the commercial stream. The State Party reported knowing the location of illegal logging sites, and indicated that only a relatively small portion of the property (e.g. several hundred hectares) was affected. It reported that more frequent ranger surveillance has helped reduce this activity, though the newly and legally established Wounaan community (see point d below) within the property raises new concerns over the potential for increased forest clearing for agriculture.
c) Implement alternative and sustainable livelihoods programmes for affected communities surrounding the property in the framework of a wider programme for the reduction of incentives for illegal logging
With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and international NGOs, the State Party reports being engaged in improving food security in areas of horticulture and fisheries. It is also supporting work on community governance, training in small business development and environmental education. A more systematic approach to helping develop sustainable livelihoods would more likely ensure the perennity and effectiveness of these efforts.
d) Complete the resettlement process for those people who have recently established themselves within the Park boundaries
In 2011, a relatively small group of indigenous Wounaan entered the Park, living in an area of the Park which they consider their ancestral land. Their land claim in the Park was recently recognized by the State Party. Under Colombian law, communities residing within protected areas must negotiate a community Management Plan with the National Government, to ensure that their activities remain sustainable and do not undermine the values for which a protected area is recognized. This process is underway in regards to the Wounaan in Los Katíos National Park, though the State Party has indicated that it could be several years before it is finalized.
e) Resolve the incompatibility between the State Party's obligation to conserve the property's Outstanding Universal Value, and the proposed large infrastructure projects currently under consideration
The State Party reports that the Pan-American Highway proposal did not move beyond the discussion phase and is no longer being seriously proposed. It noted that discussions over this roadway have waxed and waned for several decades. The State Party indicated that highway construction through a National Park was not permitted under the Colombian constitution, nor was the reduction of Park area permitted, providing high level legal protection against further consideration of a road passing through the property, if not nearby.
The State Party report indicates that in 2010, the Ministry of the Environment had denied a licence for the construction of an electrical utilities corridor intended to link Colombia with Panama. However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that various internet news sources, including one belonging to the Government of Colombia (see: http://www.regiones.gov.co/Mesoamerica/Prensa/Paginas/110829a-interconexion-electrica-colombia-panama.aspx), which indicate that a formal agreement had been concluded between the two Governments in August 2011, and that the necessary legal preparations in both countries were underway. The State Party informed the mission that an electrical utilities corridor would be constructed near the property boundary in order to supply communities beyond who did not yet have electricity. In its 2008 report to the Committee, the State Party mentioned the threat arising from the possible construction of an interoceanic canal. Further investigation and discussions with the State Party during the monitoring mission revealed that there are currently no plans at any Governmental level for such infrastructure. Similarly, concerns expressed in the same report over a potential hydroelectric dam in the property were not substantiated in follow-up investigations.