1.         Doñana National Park (Spain) (N 685bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(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/685/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Toxic flow from a mine holding pool

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/

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

Summary of previous deliberations: At its twenty-second session (June 1998) the Bureau was informed that a giant holding pool of the Aznalcollar mine owned by the Canadian-Swedish Boliden-Apirsa Company burst resulting in an ecological disaster. Although the main toxic flow had been diverted away from the National Park, the adjoining areas have been badly damaged. The Bureau was informed that the spill could spread into the World Heritage area as pollutants dispersed more widely. The State Party had submitted a number of technical reports on the situation and on actions taken to mitigate the threats. The President of the Spanish MAB Committee had proposed the organisation of an international conference to review actions taken and rehabilitation plans elaborated for the conservation of the site and provided an outline for a project entitled “Dofiana 2005”. The Bureau had expressed its serious concerns on the long-term restoration of the property and urged the State Party to undertake all possible measures to mitigate the threats. Furthermore, the Bureau had requested the State Party to collaborate with UNESCO, IUCN and the Ramsar Convention to prepare an international expert conference to develop a long-term vision and to compile a detailed report in time for the twenty-second session of the World Heritage Committee.

At its twenty-second extraordinary session (November 1998) the Bureau reviewed the findings of a Centre mission to the site from 10 to 13 November 1998. The Centre received a number of documents presented by the Spanish authorities on the actions undertaken since the June 1998 session of the Bureau, including the Dofiana 2005 project. The project “Dofiana 2005 ­ hydrological regeneration of the watersheds and river channels flowing towards Dofiana National Park”- prepared by the Ministry for the Environment, mainly proposes measures to:

The Bureau noted that the World Heritage site and the Biosphere Reserve are currently little affected whereas the Natural Park around the site has been impacted by the toxic spill. The Bureau and the Committee (Kyoto, 1998) while noting and commending the substantial actions taken by the Spanish authorities suggested that the State Party proceed with great caution in re­starting mining activities and requested that EIAs be carried out for each step. The Committee requested that the long-term impacts of mining on both the World Heritage site and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve be monitored

New information: IUCN has expressed its concerns regarding the reopening of the Aznalcollar mine, which is in close proximity to Dofiana National Park. IUCN notes that the tailings dam should be fully impermeable and that a hydrological study should be performed for modeling


 potential infiltration of wastewater to the aquifers existing in the area. IUCN believes that the results of these projects should be reviewed by an independent technical experts group prior to any decision being made on the reopening of the mine. Second, according to national regulations, reopening of the mine must follow a public hearing involving the Stakeholders Committee of Dofiana National Park, in consultation with the Technological and Geo-mining Institute of Spain. In addition, IUCN strongly believes that the Committee should also be consulted. IUCN is due to undertake a mission to the site, in response to an invitation from the Provincial Government of Andalusia, to assess the area and to evaluate progress achieved by corrective measures from 7 to 12 June 1999. IUCN will submit the report of this mission to the twenty-third session of the Committee at the end of 1999. The Minister for the Environment of Spain, via a letter of 21 March 1999 to the Director-General of UNESCO, has proposed that the conference on the future of Dofiana be organized during May – June 1999. The Director of the Centre, via his letter of 4 May 1999 to the Minister has suggested that more time should be given for collaboration between the State Party, UNESCO, IUCN and the Ramsar Convention in preparing such an important conference for developing a long-term vision for Dofiana. Furthermore, the Ambassador of Spain by letter of 3 May to the Director of the Centre has submitted the following documents which were requested by the Bureau in June 1998: (a) “Dofiana 2005 - hydrological regeneration of the watersheds and river channels flowing towards Dofiana National Park” and its development; (b) copy of the decree, i.e. the law 7/1999 concerning Dofiana 2005; and (c) information on the accident that occurred in 1998 and its implications for the conservation of the site as of 23 April 1999. These documents have been transmitted to IUCN for review.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to review the comments of IUCN on the documents (a), (b) and (c) and any new information that may be available at the time of its session and take appropriate decisions thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

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.

 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.39

At its twenty-second session the Bureau was informed that a giant holding pool of the Aznalcollar mine owned by the Canadian-Swedish Boliden-Apirsa Company burst resulting in an ecological disaster. Although the main toxic flow had been diverted away from the National Park, the adjoining areas have been badly damaged. The Bureau was informed that the spill could spread into the World Heritage area as pollutants dispersed more widely. The State Party had submitted a number of technical reports on the situation and on actions taken to mitigate the threats. The President of the Spanish MAB Committee had proposed the organisation of an international conference to review actions taken and rehabilitation plans elaborated for the conservation of the site and provided an outline for a project entitled «Doñana 2005». The Bureau had expressed its serious concerns on the long-term restoration of the property and urged the State Party to undertake all possible measures to mitigate the threats. Furthermore, the Bureau had requested the State Party to collaborate with UNESCO, IUCN and the Ramsar Convention to prepare an international expert conference to develop a long-term vision and to compile a detailed report in time for the twenty-second session of the World Heritage Committee.

At its twenty-second extraordinary session the Bureau reviewed the findings of a Centre mission to the site from 10 to 13 November 1998. The Centre received a number of documents presented by the Spanish authorities on the actions undertaken since the June 1998 session of the Bureau.

The Bureau noted that the World Heritage site and the Biosphere Reserve are currently little affected whereas the Natural Park around the site has been impacted by the toxic spill. The Bureau and the Committee (Kyoto, 1998) while noting and commending the substantial actions taken by the Spanish authorities, suggested that the State Party proceed with great caution in re-starting mining activities and requested that EIAs be carried out for each step. The Committee requested that the long-term impacts of mining on both the World Heritage site and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve be monitored.

The Minister for the Environment of Spain, via a letter to the Director-General of UNESCO, has proposed that the conference on the future of Doñana be organized during May – June 1999. The Director of the Centre, via his letter to the Minister has suggested that more time should be given for collaboration between the State Party, UNESCO, IUCN and the Ramsar Convention in preparing such an important conference for developing a long-term vision for Doñana. Furthermore, the Ambassador of Spain by letter of 3 May to the Director of the Centre, has submitted the following documents which were requested by the Bureau in June 1998: (a) «Doñana 2005 - hydrological regeneration of the watersheds and river channels flowing towards Doñana National Park» and its development; (b) copy of the decree, i.e. the Law 7/1999 concerning Doñana 2005; and (c) information on the accident that occurred in 1998 and its implications for the conservation of the site as of 23 April 1999. These documents were transmitted to IUCN for review.

IUCN informed the Bureau that a WCPA representative visited the site from 6 to 10 June 1999. IUCN noted that restoration activities were successful and that monitoring programmes have been set up.  The State Party should be commended for these initiatives. Due to these measures, the World Heritage site has not been directly affected, however there are important wetland areas surrounding the site, which may have been affected, and which form part of the ecosystem. IUCN raised concerns about the reopening of the Aznalcollar mine and noted that three issues need consideration: (a) to make the dam for the collection of waste water fully impermeable; (b) the need for a hydrological study for monitoring potential infiltration of waste water to the aquifers of the area and (c) the need for consultation with all stakeholders. IUCN also noted the need for co-ordinated and effective buffer zone management.

Following the review of new information provided by IUCN, the Bureau requested the State Party, the Centre and IUCN to collaborate in the organization of the conference on the future of Doñana. The Bureau furthermore expressed serious concerns regarding the possible reopening of the Aznalcollar mine, and the tailings dam which should be fully impermeable and for which a hydrological study should be performed. The Bureau furthermore encouraged the State Party to give priority attention to implement key actions as proposed by IUCN and to provide regularly progress reports on implementation, including progress achieved in the implementation of these priorities. The Bureau requested IUCN and the Centre to provide an up-to-date report including results of the conference to the extraordinary session of the Bureau, and the State Party to submit a progress report by 15 September 1999.

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.26

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."