State of Conservation (SOC)
Doñana National Park (1999)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Toxic flow from a mine holding pool
Current conservation issues
Twenty-second session of the Committee – Chapter VII.25;
Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV.39.
New information: IUCN notes that at its last session, the World Heritage Bureau:
(i) expressed serious concerns regarding the possible reopening of the Aznalcollar mine, and encouraged the State Party to give priority attention to implement key actions proposed by IUCN, i.e., (a) the tailings dam be fully impermeable; (b) a hydrological study should be undertaken for monitoring potential penetration of waste water into the aquifers of the area; (c) the need for consultation with all stakeholders; and (d) the need for co-ordinated and effective buffer zone management;
(ii) encouraged the State Party to provide regular reports on implementation, including progress achieved in the implementation of these priorities; and
(iii) requested the State Party, the Centre and IUCN to collaborate in the organisation of the conference on the future of Doñana.
An informative note was transmitted (dated June 1999) during the last session of the Bureau from the State Party to the Centre and IUCN on the situation and measures taken following the breaching of the Aznalcollar mine reservoir. It included a discussion of the recent hydrology of the area, steps taken as a result of the mine accident, the initiation of the Green Corridor project and the Doñana 2005 project and a reference to the possible reopening of the mine.
During 1998 and 1999 a number of actions were undertaken. According to representatives of the Aznalcollar mine at the Doñana 2005 Conference, permission to resume operations was given by the concerned Spanish authorities in March 1999. The first operation at the mine commenced in June 1999 and consisted of transferring the remaining toxic wastes from the holding pond, which had breached in April 1998 (causing the spill into the Guadiamar River), to an old, unused mining pit. The clean up of the affected areas of the Guadiamar basin has continued. The Government of Andalucia initiated the Green Corridor project which is designed to acquire the affected farming areas adjacent to the Guadiamar River and to reforest and rehabilitate the area.
An International Expert Meeting on the Regeneration of the Doñana watershed (Doñana 2005 Conference) took place from 4 to 8 October 1999 with the participation of the World Heritage Centre, IUCN, the Secretary-General of the Ramsar Convention, WWF and other organizations. The meeting produced a number of recommendations concerning steps that could be taken for improving the situation of the decrease in the water table, diversion of surface water flows from entering Doñana and ensuring that water entering the area is free of pollutants. In addition, discussions took place concerning the necessity for strong co-operation between various activities being initiated in the region such as the Doñana 2005 project and the Green Corridor project. Some suggestions included the construction of large artificial lagoons for the control of water flows and reducing pollution and sediment loads. These would be placed in areas outside the World Heritage site in land to be purchased or acquired from agricultural companies or farmers. This recommendation could be of concern because the lagoon construction and operation afterwards could have serious impacts on the hydrology of the region.
While IUCN welcomes the continued clean up effort of the Guadiamar basin and affected areas, the Expert Meeting on the Regeneration of Doñana and the initiation of the Green Corridor project, there are still some concerns.
- It is not clear to what extent an impact study was undertaken to ensure that the toxic wastes which will now be dumped into the old mine pit will remain there and not percolate into the surrounding aquifer.
- It is not clear how the various authorities at the state and regional level intend to co-ordinate the various activities undertaken to ensure that the integrity of Doñana is maintained.
- It is not clear how resolution of conflicts between users of the watershed will be undertaken on a regular basis, nor how regular monitoring of progress of the implementation of various activities will be carried out.
- In addition it is not clear how a number of the concerns raised by the 1998 and 1999 meetings of the Committee and the Bureau (referred to above) have been or are being addressed.
In order to provide the basis for a thorough discussion of the present status of the Doñana National Park, IUCN recommends that the State Party provide information on the following:
- hydrological studies that indicate there will be no infiltration of toxic waste into the aquifer feeding the World Heritage site;
- plans for stakeholder consultations to identify conflicts and options to resolve them;
- plans for regular independent monitoring of the hydrological parameters of the site;
- arrangements for co-ordination and collaboration between the various activities in the area which affect the hydrology of the region;
- environmental impact studies on various proposals to restore the hydrology of the region, in particular the construction of artificial lagoons in some of the areas presently used for agriculture; and
- plans for keeping under review the progress in the implementation of the Green Corridor and Doñana 2005 projects, as well as other related activities.
Following the Doñana 2005 Conference, the Centre contacted the authorities to obtain information concerning the exact dates of authorization and production of the Azlacollar mine and clarification with regard to the points raised by the World Heritage Bureau. No response has been received at the time of the preparation of this document.
Link to the decision
X.26 Doñana National Park (Spain)
The Committee recalled the reports from the twenty-third ordinary and the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau on the state of conservation of this property and adopted the following decision:
"The Committee noted that during 1998 and 1999 a number of actions were undertaken to mitigate the impacts of the ecological disaster following the spill in April 1998, in particular the results of the International Expert Meeting on the Regeneration of the Doñana Watershed in October 1999 with the participation of the World Heritage Centre, IUCN, the Secretary-General of the Ramsar Convention, WWF and other organizations.
The Committee commended the Spanish authorities for the continued clean up effort of the Guadiamar Basin and affected areas. However, the Committee expressed its concerns for the re-opening of the mine without taking into account the points raised by the twenty-second session of the Committee and the twenty-third session of the Bureau. The Committee suggested that a review meeting be held during the year 2000/2001 to review progress of the implementation of the Doñana 2005 project, taking into account the points raised by IUCN and involving all concerned parties and institutions including the international collaborators from the meeting on Doñana 2005 held in October 1999. The State Party is encouraged to take into account the WCPA Position Statement on mining activities and protected areas, which was reviewed by this Committee."
The Bureau may wish to transmit the above report to the Committee for examination and recommends the following for adoption:
“The Committee commends the Spanish authorities for the continued clean up effort of the Guadiamar basin and affected areas. However, the Committee expresses its concerns for the re-opening of the mine without taking into account the points raised by the twenty-second session of the Committee and the twenty-third session of the Bureau. The Committee suggests that a review meeting be held during the year 2000 to review progress of the implementation of the Doñana 2005 project, taking into account the points raised by IUCN and which should involve all concerned parties and institutions including the international collaborators involved in the meeting on Doñana 2005 held in October 1999. The State Party should also be encouraged to take into account the WCPA Position Statement on mining activities and protected areas to be reviewed by the twenty-third session of the Committee.”
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The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).