State of Conservation (SOC)
Ha Long Bay
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Ap proved: 53,107USD
|1998||Geomorphology Study of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area||8,857 USD|
|1997||Support to the Management Department of Ha Long Bay, Quang Ning ...||20,000 USD|
|1996||Management Planning for Sustainable Tourism at Ha Long Bay World ...||24,250 USD|
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- New port is to be developed in the Bay
- License for a large floating hotel at the site
Current conservation issues
Twenty-second session of the Committee – Chapter VII. 27
Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV. 45
New information: Since the conclusion of the twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau in July 1999, the Vietnam authorities, via their letter of 18 August 1999, have transmitted the following to the Centre:
· Two volumes of the EIA of the Bai Chay Bridge Construction Project which has been approved by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MOSTE) of Vietnam ;
· A draft report on the study on « The Environmental Management for Ha Long Bay Project » jointly prepared by the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA), MOSTE and the Quang Ninh Province Government.
These voluminous reports have been transmitted to IUCN for review. In addition, the Government of Vietnam has re-nominated the Ha Long Bay under natural heritage criterion (i). The re-nomination will be evaluated by IUCN in the year 2000 and a report submitted to the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau in mid-2000.
The World Bank Office in Vietnam has responded to the observations and recommendations of the twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau, via a letter dated 19 August 1999, and has indicated that it intends to implement an augmented lending programme for Hai Phong – Ha Long improvement over the next few years in accordance with the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy.
The letter from the Bank, as well as the IUCN report on the site highlights the Bank/IUCN co-operation to prepare a proposal for a GEF Block B grant to develop a marine management programme for the North Tonkin Archipelago, which includes Ha Long Bay. IUCN Vietnam has recruited a marine officer from one of the local institutions to assist with the development of this proposal. The project will implement an integrated management programme for the Archipelago which will lay the foundation for a model Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) programme for the region. The project, according to the letter from the Bank Office in Vietnam will provide for pilot scale development of methods of reducing pollutants carried into the Archipelago from agriculture, forestry, industrial and urban development activities in the Hai Phong and the Quang Ninh Provinces. IUCN has informed the Centre that Environment Australia and the Embassy of the Government of the Netherlands in Hanoi have also been approached in relation to support for this project. The latter has also been approached to support other projects, such as the implementation of a project to strengthen the capacity of the Ha Long Bay Management Department. They have expressed an interest in principle to offer support for both projects should the request come directly from the Vietnam Government. The World Bank Office in Vietnam has committed itself to « support and co-ordinate development and conservation activities made by UNESCO as well as by other donors in the World Heritage area » (quoted from the letter dated 19 August 1999 from the World Bank Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, to the Centre). The opening of a new UNESCO Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, in September 1999, will further facilitate co-ordination of activities in the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area and regular information gathering with a view to reporting to the Committee and Bureau sessions.
Analysis and Conclusion
Link to the decision
At its twenty-second session, the Bureau had noted that the Government of Vietnam/JICA study on environmental management for Ha Long Bay had commenced in February 1998 and was to be completed in October 1999. The Bureau was informed of the loan agreement signed (March 1998) by the Government of Vietnam and OECF, Japan, for the construction of the Bai Chay Bridge, to link Bai Chay Beach to Ha Long City across the Bai Chay Bay. The agreement foresaw a feasibility study as well as an environmental impact assessment of the bridge construction project. At its twenty-second extraordinary session the Bureau noted that the State Party had provided the Centre with several documents relevant to the consideration of the impacts of the various construction projects proposed for implementation in coastal and marine areas in the vicinity of Ha Long Bay. The Bureau urged the Centre and IUCN to undertake a thorough review of the information provided by the State Party and due to be generated via on-going and proposed donor financed studies and conferences. The Observer of Vietnam informed the twenty-second session of the Committee (Kyoto, 1998) that his Government considers that the preservation and conservation of the World Heritage site should proceed in harmony with the socio-economic development of the area. He noted that initial results of the JICA Environmental Management Study indicated no serious environmental impacts in the World Heritage area and that final results are likely to provide a clearer picture.
The Bureau was informed that IUCN Vietnam and the Centre participated in a seminar, hosted by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the World Bank Office of Vietnam, in Hanoi and Ha Long City, Vietnam, from 6 to 8 April 1999. The seminar was organized with the co-operation of the Hai Phong and Quang Ninh Provincial Governments. It reviewed options for the comprehensive development of the Haiphong-Quang Ninh coastal zone that includes the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area. As part of the seminar, a visit to the World Heritage area was arranged for all participants, including representatives of bi- and multilateral donor agencies. The field visit helped to raise the awareness of the international conservation significance of the site and drew attention of the donors to the need to address a range of potential threats to the integrity of the site arising from the rapid socio-economic development of the surrounding region.
Representatives of the Government of Vietnam, including those from the two Provincial Governments, made commitments concerning the comprehensive development of the Hai Phong-Quang Ninh coastal zone. They voiced their intent to protect and manage the environment of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage Area in accordance with international norms. Ha Long City, Hai Phong and Hanoi form the most important growth triangle in northern Vietnam. Development of the region is influenced by the growing affluence of the population in southern China for whom Ha Long Bay is becoming an important tourist destination. The Quang Ninh-Hai Phong coastal zone is expected to experience rapid growth in infrastructure development, particularly in transport, shipping, coal mining and tourism sectors. The key development issues that will impact the future management of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area and possible ways to mitigate them, include:
(a) Coal loading and transport operations;
(b) Fishing communities living in ‘floating villages’ within the World Heritage area itself;
(c) Brick manufacturing industries in coastal areas in the vicinity of Ha Long Bay with potential impacts;
(d) Urban development in the Ha Long City area impacts the waters of Ha Long Bay;
(e) Deepwater ports are planned for Cai Lan and Cua Ong. Port development will increase shipping traffic and this will increase the risk of environmental damage;
(f) The development of Cai Lan and other deepwater ports in northern Vietnam must be seen as complementary to parallel efforts to restore the port in Hai Phong which is Vietnam’s second largest port. In connection with the development of the Cai Lan port, dredging activities should be avoided; dredging should be strictly prohibited within the World Heritage area;
(g) Tourism development within the World Heritage area must be co-ordinated with the overall tourism development strategy for the Quang Ninh-Hai Phong coastal zone.
The key to effective mitigation of all potential threats to the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area is a fully professional and well-resourced management agency. The satisfactory management of shipping and tourism would also greatly reduce potential threats to the World Heritage site. When the mandate, objectives, tasks, and organisational issues required to manage the World Heritage site are compared with the current structure of the management department, it is clear that the Department does not have the resources or the status to develop strategically. IUCN Vietnam has prepared a project proposal to improve the capacity of the management department, and is now looking for possible funding sources. Several recent initiatives that have occurred to guide developments and to control pollution in Ha Long Bay could also be expanded in ways by which they could contribute towards strengthening the management of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area.
(a) The Government of Vietnam and the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) have commissioned a comprehensive environmental study of the World Heritage site and the coastal area adjacent to Ha Long town. The study is investigating a range of pollution sources and indicators and is to be concluded in October 1999. The possibility of building a second phase to the study whereby the international norms for the environmental management of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage Area are determined and the capacity to monitor them is established, is worth exploring.
(b) The project «Capacity Building for Environmental Management in Vietnam» is developing a GIS database for Quang Ninh province, which includes the World Heritage site. However, the effective management of the Ha Long Bay environment in the future clearly needs further research and studies in a number of areas, particularly biodiversity, cave morphology, visitor rates and destinations, role of fishing «villagers» resident within the Bay in environmental management and social impact of developments.
(c) IUCN Vietnam has received funding from the Royal Netherlands Embassy to develop a checklist of selected plants in Ha Long Bay. This will be included in a visitor brochure that can be used to raise awareness about the need to conserve the biodiversity of the Word Heritage site.
The Bureau was also informed that the Centre has received from the UNESCO National Commission of Vietnam a very detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Cai Lan Port Expansion Project that will be reviewed by the Centre and IUCN.
IUCN noted many threats to the site, including increase in tourism; the infrastructure developed may have potential to impact adversely on the site; the coal loading operations through the inshore waters of the Bay; large fishing presence in the Bay, and urban and industrial development. IUCN highlighted the need for effective management strategies, in particular concerning fishing and tourism and the need to strengthen the capacity of the Ha Long Bay Management Department to assist it to strategically address these issues. IUCN Vietnam has proposed a project proposal for this.
The Rapporteur suggested that co-ordination among the various donor agencies and conservation organizations active in the Ha Long Bay area would be advisable. The Delegate of Japan underlined that it is the responsibility of the Vietnam Government to co-ordinate all projects concerning Ha Long Bay.
The Bureau welcomed the expression of the National and Provincial Governments’ commitment and willingness to manage the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area in accordance with international norms befitting a coastal and marine protected area located in a region of intense economic development. The Bureau commended the efforts of The World Bank and the State Party in placing the conservation of the World Heritage area as a central theme in their efforts to manage the environment and conserve nature in the comprehensive development of the Quang Ninh-Hai Phong coastal zone. The Bureau invited the Government of Vietnam to consider upgrading the profile, status and capacity of the Ha Long Bay Management Department so that it can fully meet its responsibilities to effectively manage the World Heritage area. The Bureau requested the Centre, IUCN and the State Party to co-operate, including to develop a list of critical projects essential for building the capacity of the Ha Long Bay Management Department and for establishing internationally acceptable standards and norms for monitoring the environment of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area. This list of projects, if approved by the Committee at its twenty-third session, could serve as a basis for negotiations between the State Party and suitable donors for supporting the conservation of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area. Furthermore, the Bureau requested the Centre to contact The World Bank Office in Hanoi, and concerned authorities of the Government of Vietnam to explore possibilities for co-ordinating the work of the numerous development and conservation organizations active in the Ha Long Bay area.
Link to the decision
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)
The Bureau may wish to adopt the following text and transmit it to the Committee for noting:
“The Bureau expresses its satisfaction with the commitment of the World Bank Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, to co-ordinate conservation and development activities in the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area. The Bureau invites the State Party to use the rising donor interest to support the conservation of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area and implement measures, in particular, to upgrade the profile, authority and the capacity of the Ha Long Bay Management Department which has the principal responsibility to manage the World Heritage area as a coastal and marine protected area located in an area of intensive economic development. The Bureau invites the State Party to submit annual reports to the extraordinary sessions of the Bureau, highlighting in particular, measures that are being taken to build capacity for the management of the site and monitor the environment of Ha Long Bay in accordance with internationally acceptable standards and norms applicable to a coastal and marine protected area.”
Ha Long Bay
- Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
- Marine transport infrastructure
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”).