1.         Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman) (N 654)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (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/654/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1994-1998)
Total amount approved: USD 55,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/654/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/654/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: In 1997, the authorities of Oman submitted an interim zoning plan that foresaw a new outer boundary, and provisional boundaries for five management zones. In addition, they provided brief descriptions of their plans for implementing several projects and a report on the population status of the Arabian Oryx in the Sanctuary. At its twenty-second session (June 1998), the Bureau agreed with IUCN’s position that it would be better to review the zoning plan and other associated proposals after the overall management plan and the boundaries for the site are finalised. Hence, the Bureau invited the State Party to inform the Centre about progress with regard to the finalisation of the management plan and submit the plan to IUCN and the Centre for review. At its twenty-second extraordinary session (November 1998), the Bureau noted with concern that the boundaries of the site remain undefined since the inscription of the site in 1994 and that the management plan has yet to be finalised. Hence, the Bureau invited the State Party to submit the final plan for review by IUCN and the Centre before 15 September 1999 and requested the Centre and IUCN to submit the findings of their review to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.

New information: Recent reports have alerted IUCN to the fact that the Arabian oryx could be threatened with extinction in the wild in Oman for the second time in the last thirty years. Available data indicates that the number of wild Arabian oryx in Oman has fallen from 400 (in October 1996) to 100. Of the 100 or so remaining oryx, only eleven are females, which greatly reduces the species’ chances of survival. Uncontrolled hunting and capture were the major reasons why the oryx originally became extinct in the wild in 1972. Re-introduction projects in 1982 and 1984 appeared to be successful and numbers rose to a high of 400 in 1996. However, as the number of oryx increased, poachers have returned. Recommendations from a recent conference in Abu Dhabi suggested the creation of co-ordinating body with a permanent secretariat in one of the range states to enhance co-operation and exchange of experience among concerned countries of the Arabian Peninsula. The tightening of regulations and improved regional co-operation to prevent illegal trans-boundary movement of poaching and trade in the Arabian Oryx were also recommended.

Action Required

In addition to the final management plan, including the boundaries of the site and its management zones, the Bureau may request the State Party to produce a status report on the Arabian oryx within the Sanctuary for review by IUCN and the Centre before 15 September 1999. The Bureau may wish to recommend that the findings of the Centre/IUCN review of the management plan and the status report be submitted to the twenty-third session of the Committee.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:          

Twenty-second session of the Committee – page 98 of Annex IV ;

Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV.36

 

New information: A letter of 11 September 1999 from the Director General of Nature Conservation Department in the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment, in response to the request of the twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau, has acknowledged that the size of the wild Arabian oryx population had dropped from 450 to about 100. Of the 100 remaining, only 13 are females, hence the risks of the local extinction of the species are significant. Past re-introduction projects had succeeded, but with the increase in oryx numbers the poachers returned to once again reduce the population size sharply. An additional 45 oryx, rescued from the wild are in captivity and are awaiting release once security in the wild is guaranteed. Recommendations from a recent International Arabian Oryx Conference (March, 1999) held in Abu Dhabi, addressed the issue of illegal trade of oryx and suggested the creation of a co-ordinating body with a permanent secretariat in one of the range states to enhance co-operation and exchange of experience across the Arabian Peninsula.  The tightening of regulations and improved regional co-operation to prevent illegal transboundary movement of and trade in Arabian Oryx were also recommended.  The oryx breeds well in captivity and with careful management a healthy source of animals can be guaranteed for further re-introduction programmes.  Oman intends to host a follow up conference next year and improve local community participation and environmental tourism to improve local support for site protection. The Oryx Project Management team has been strengthened by the appointment of new staff.

The Director-General’s letter informed the Centre of the explorations undertaken by an oil company already holding a concession within a part of the Sanctuary. The letter furthermore states that a full EIA was undertaken by internationally well-known consultants and that the scope, consultations and assessment were fully in accordance with the planning policies recommended in the management planning study (Final Report) which has been incorporated within the draft management plan. However, none of the above mentioned documents, i.e. EIA, management planning study or draft management plan have been submitted to the Centre. IUCN has raised serious concerns regarding the management of this site, given the fact that the boundary marking and management planning project financed in part by the World Heritage Fund is long overdue for completion. Other issues of concern include impacts of off-road vehicle use and overgrazing by domestic wildlife. A «Regional Capacity Building Training Workshop for the Promotion of Awareness in Natural Heritage Conservation in the Arab Region», for which the Committee approved a sum of US$ 40,000 at its last session in Kyoto, Japan, is due to be held in Oman in February 2000. Participants of this Regional Capacity Building activity are expected to visit the site and assess the status of conservation of the site, including progress made in the implementation of the boundary marking and management planning project.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.36

The Bureau recalled that in 1997, the authorities of Oman submitted an interim zoning plan that foresaw a new outer boundary, and provisional boundaries for five management zones. In addition, they provided brief descriptions of their plans for implementing several projects and a report on the population status of the Arabian Oryx in the Sanctuary. At its twenty-second session (June 1998), the Bureau agreed with IUCN’s position that it would be better to review the zoning plan and other associated proposals after the overall management plan and the boundaries for the site are finalised. Hence, the Bureau invited the State Party to inform the Centre about progress with regard to the finalisation of the management plan and submit the plan to IUCN and the Centre for review. At its twenty-second extraordinary session (November 1998), the Bureau had noted with concern that the boundaries of the site remain undefined since the inscription of the site in 1994 and that the management plan has yet to be finalised. Hence, the Bureau invited the State Party to submit the final plan for review by IUCN and the Centre before 15 September 1999 and requested the Centre and IUCN to submit the findings of their review to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.

The Centre informed the Bureau that a letter dated 30 June 1999 addressed to the Centre from the Office of the Adviser for Conservation of the Environment, the Diwan Royal Court, the office responsible for the reintroduction of the Arabian Oryx in the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, indicated that the oryx population has dropped drastically in the last three years due to heavy poaching. IUCN informed the Bureau that they have been alerted by recent reports to the fact that the Arabian oryx could be threatened with extinction in the wild in Oman for the second time in the last thirty years, and that data indicates that the numbers of wild Arabian oryx in Oman have fallen from 400 (in October 1996) to 100. With the successful re-introduction since 1982, and the increase in the number of oryx, poachers were attracted back.

IUCN further informed the Bureau that recommendations from a recent conference in Abu Dhabi suggested the creation of a co-ordinating body, with a permanent secretariat, in one of the range states, to enhance co-operation and exchange of experience among concerned countries of the Arabian Peninsula in order to prevent illegal transboundary movement of poaching and trade in the Arabian oryx. IUCN also reported that an Environmental Impact Assessment for oil exploration within the Sanctuary was recently undertaken.

The Bureau agreed that, in addition to the final management plan, including the boundaries of the site and its management zones, the State Party be requested to produce a report on the status the Arabian oryx within the Sanctuary and the proposed oil exploration for review by IUCN and the Centre before 15 September 1999 and that the findings of the Centre/IUCN review of this information be submitted to the twenty-third session of the Committee.

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.28

X.28 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/6) included as Annex VIII to this report. Additional observations made during the Committee session are reflected below.

Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)

Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)

Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)

The Delegate of Australia thanked IUCN for the consultative process started, which could be a model for other State Parties. He also informed the Committee that the area of marine protection around Macquerie Island had been extended and now comprises 16 million ha, the world's largest highly protected marine zone.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)

Los Katios National Park (Colombia)

The Delegate of Colombia informed the Committee that a visit by a delegation from the Ministry for Environment to Los Katios was recently carried out. The visit included areas that were previously not accessible. He emphasized that the proposal to grant collective land ownership over 100,000ha would be outside the Park in the buffer zone. He commented that his Government would be pleased to receive the visit of the monitoring mission to this site in 2000. The Colombian authorities have enhanced transboundary co-operation with Darien National Park (Panama) and strengthened the protected area system.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

The Observer of the United States underlined his Government's role in safeguarding Galapagos Islands and congratulated the Government of Ecuador on progress made. He noted the landmark decision of the Galapagos Law and questioned whether it had been implemented, in particular concerning the forty-mile zone. The Secretariat informed the Committee that some threats related to illegal fishing have been reported. IUCN noted the implementation of this pioneering legislation is vital and specific regulations need to be developed and implemented as soon as possible. The Delegate of Ecuador provided information from the Ministry of Environment noting progress concerning control of introduced species and general improvements in relation to biodiversity conservation at the site. Concerning the control of the 40-mile zone, she stated that the law has not yet been implemented, but that the basis for the conservation and environmental control is there. She thanked the Committee for all its efforts to safeguard the Galapagos.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Mount Kenya National Park (Kenya)

Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)

The Observer of Nepal expressed his gratitude for the international support for the important project on tourism carried out at Sagarmatha National Park. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that it is a ground-breaking project.

Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand (New Zealand)

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)

The Delegate of Thailand noted the raised serious concerns raised by the Bureau regarding the management of this site, given the decline in numbers of the Arabian Oryx and the fact that the boundary marking and management planning is long overdue for completion. He recalled that the Committee inscribed the site without legislation and management plan in December 1994. He highlighted the Operational Guidelines in relation to the deletion of properties. The Delegate of Benin noted that rigour was not always applied in the past years and that a number of sites would not have been accepted if they were presented today. Concerning the question of deletion, a site would be put first on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Delegate of Thailand made it clear that he had not proposed the deletion of the site from the World Heritage List and that he was totally aware of the modalities in that respect. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that similar problems concerned a number of sites and that these issues would certainly be dealt with by the periodic reporting process. IUCN pointed out that it had consistently raised concerns about this site. IUCN noted that legislation does not have effect if there is not sufficient resources for its implementation. The Chairperson reminded the Committee members about the rarity of Arab natural sites on the List. In concluding, the Chairperson thanked the Committee for the debate and noted that awareness needs to be raised in countries about the World Heritage Convention, its obligations and World Heritage values to be preserved for future generations, in particular among decision-makers. He thanked the Delegate of Thailand for his statement and encouraged the Committee to further reflect on how to enhance the protection of World Heritage sites.

Huascaran National Park (Peru)

Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)

The Observer of Russia requested that the information provided during the adoption of the report of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau on this site be included in the Bureau report.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda)

Gough Island (United Kingdom)

Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)