State of Conservation (SOC)
St Kilda (1999)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Proposed Oil exploration and production, and potential oil spills
Current conservation issues
Twenty-second session of the Committee – Chapter VII. 27
Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV. 43
New information: The twenty-second Bureau session noted conflicting information in relation to the state of conservation of St. Kilda. Accordingly it suggested that the State Party, in co-operation with the Centre and IUCN, initiate a round table process involving interested parties. This round table meeting was held in Edinburgh on 24 September 1999 with the participation of a representative from IUCN/WCPA and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
The IUCN focus at the roundtable was whether risks to the existing World Heritage property were such that it should be included on the List of the World Heritage in Danger. The boundary of the property is at the high tide mark and, therefore, any matters of marine pollution were considered in the context of impact on the nesting sea birds of St. Kilda while at sea, feeding or roosting, or the food upon which they depended.
The strategy for exploration and possible exploitation of the Atlantic Frontier was explained in detail at the roundtable meeting, together with the procedures for the input of scientific advice by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) on environmental impacts. Information was also provided about the data on which this scientific advice was based.
The evidence provided at the round table meeting covered:
· Existing proposals to drill exploration wells;
· General environmental measures within licensing;
· Preparedness and response to oil spills;
· Environmental impact assessments for each exploration well and for development;
· Assessment of risk of oil spills;
· Details about the likely scale of tanker traffic;
· Data on the probability of spills during the transfer of oil;
· An analysis of the procedures followed in Oil Spill Risk Assessment;
· A breakdown of the factors influencing potential oil spill impact — taking into account the nature of the oil, wind and current direction, rate of dispersion and weathering of spilled oil, the distribution and populations of birds (species by species), shore life and sub-tidal life;
· For birds at sea, the analysis of the database of birds at sea (at present 2 million records) is used to calculate an ‘offshore vulnerability index’ for each species and, derived from that an ‘area vulnerability index’. Both of these are available for each month of the year. They are constantly being reviewed and updated in the light of new evidence. (They are, of course, not only concerned with St. Kilda); and
· An analysis of the effects of exploration and drilling techniques.
The present suggested limit of 25 miles from St. Kilda for potential oil development is not cast in stone. It is the best estimate based on existing scientific knowledge. It is not possible to make exact predictions about the future of exploration and development. This will depend upon future oil prices and the interest of companies in exploration. There has been little interest in the last year, but it is now increasing. The latest blocks opened for licensing are in an arc from the west to east about 200 miles north of St. Kilda. If there should be extensive strikes to the north of St. Kilda, it would probably become economic to move away from Shuttle Tankers to pipe line. Any strikes to the south are more likely to be of gas than of oil.
The Round Table also discussed the possibility of damage to the intertidal and underwater communities round the coast of St. Kilda, even though these are not included in the present property. The Round Table considered the intertidal communities are not considered to be at major risk from any pollutants that might reach them for a number of reasons:
· the dispersed nature of any pollutants by the time they reached the coast;
· the fact that species which are adapted to the extreme conditions of the inter-tidal zone in St. Kilda also tend to seal themselves effectively against foreign bodies;
· the very rapid turn over of individuals and the large reservoir of free-swimming larval and juvenile stages.
In view of the information arising from the Round Table Process, IUCN does not recommend that this site be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger at this time.
Link to the decision
X.27 St. Kilda (United Kingdom)
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 a round table meeting on the state of conservation of the site was held in Edinburgh on 24 September 1999 with the participation of a representative from IUCN/WCPA and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
IUCN underlined that it does not recommend that this site be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Delegate of Portugal highlighted comments made by the Observer of France at the Bureau session, namely the issue of economic development at maritime sites. He underlined that this applies to coastal areas in general. A technical meeting could be organized on the problems of tourism and economic development in coastal areas and he recommended the involvement of the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to start a dialogue on these issues.
Following the discussion, the Committee decided the following:
"The Committee noted the results of the St. Kilda Round Table of September 1999. The Committee recommended (1) that the boundaries of the World Heritage area should be expanded to include the surrounding marine area and consideration be given to a buffer zone as was recommended in the IUCN's original evaluation in 1986; (2) that a revised management plan should be prepared. The Committee also recommended that, until the management plan and the risk assessment of any proposed development that might affect the integrity of the site had been prepared, consideration be given to placing a moratorium on oil licensing nearer to St Kilda other than that already licensed. The Committee decided not to include the site in the List of World Heritage in Danger."
The Observer of the United Kingdom informed the Committee that his Government would be happy to respond to the Committee's request.
The Bureau may wish to transmit the above report to the Committee for examination and recommends the following for adoption:
“The Committee notes the results of the St. Kilda Round Table of September 1999. The Committee recommends (1) that the boundaries of the World Heritage area should be expanded to include the surrounding marine area and consideration be given to a buffer zone as was recommended in the IUCN’s original evaluation in 1986; (2) that a revised management plan should be prepared. The Committee also recommends that until the management plan and the risk assessment of any proposed development that might affect the integrity of the site had been prepared, consideration be given to placing a moratorium on oil licensing nearer to St Kilda than that already licensed. The Committee decides not to include the site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.”
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
View inscribed site documents, nomination file, reports, decisions, ...
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”).