1.         Canaima National Park (Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)) (N 701)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(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/701/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/701/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

1998: UNESCO / IUCN mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/701/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-second session of the Committee – paragraph VII. 26
Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – paragraph IV. 44
Twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau paragraph III. ii)

Main issues: construction of power lines, involvement of indigenous people and local communities.

New information:  The Centre received a progress report for the development of the Action Plan for Canaima National Park from the Venezuelan authorities in December 2000. The aim of the Action Plan is to promote dialogue between all the stakeholders of the National Park in order to create favourable collaboration for the protection of the Park. For this end, three workshops were held in 2000 for the Pemon communities living within or near the National Park. The themes discussed included community participation, environmental education, ecotourism and protection of flora and fauna. More meetings with the local communities in different parts of the park will be needed in order to get the full participation of the communities for guaranteeing the viability of the Action Plan. One meeting was held for governmental organisations where they agreed that closer co-operation is necessary between them in order to co-ordinate the activities better.

IUCN has received a number of reports on the situation in the Canaima National Park. As reported by IUCN previously, there is ongoing and increasing concern and opposition to the construction of a power-line, which cuts through a limited proportion of the Park. Indigenous people from the Pemon communities continue to be in opposition to the power-line due to the long-term consequences that the project will have on both the territories they occupy and their cultural integrity. They have been responsible for toppling over thirty towers. The National Guard now has a permanent presence in the park in order to guarantee the continuation of the project.   Although the main objective of the power-line is to sell electricity to the Brazilian city of Boa Vista, electricity is also required to exploit the mineral resources in the Venezuelan Guyana Shield area.  Apart from existing traditional mining operations, it is expected that the power line will fuel new mining developments in six important buffer zones adjacent to the World Heritage site. Several international mining corporations have started a programme of land acquisition and identification, including Crystallex International and Placer Dome. There are concerns about potential impacts associated with mining around the Canaima National Park.  On several occasions, indigenous people have reported an influx of small-scale miners heading towards the headwaters of the Caroni River inside the National Park. Although illegal, these violations have not been persecuted.

Without due ecological consideration, the potential industrial development of the region adjacent to Canaima National Park and the advance of mining threaten to isolate the Park within a few years, thus putting in jeopardy its long-term integrity.  IUCN reiterated the recommendations made by the 1999 IUCN mission report, in particular the urgent need to create mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders on the conservation and management of the area. This should include the indigenous Pemon communities, mining interests, and relevant government agencies. The mission also recommended that an Action Plan be developed by the State Party as soon as possible to follow up recommendations of the mission. IUCN suggested that the Bureau urge the State Party to report on the implementation of these recommendations from the mission report. IUCN recommends that the Bureau request the State Party for a report on this situation and possible impacts on the site for the next Bureau session.

Action Required

The Bureau recalls the recommendations made by the 1999 IUCN mission report, in particular the urgent need to create mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders on the conservation and management of the area. This should include the indigenous Pemon communities, mining interests, and relevant government agencies. This mission also recommended that an Action Plan be developed by the State Party as soon as possible to follow up recommendations of the mission. The Bureau urges the State Party to report on the implementation of these recommendations from the mission report and requests the State Party for a report on this situation and possible impacts on the site by 15 September 2001.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

The Ministry for the Environment sent a letter to the Centre dated 19 September 2001 that was transmitted to IUCN for review. This letter notes that, following one of the recommendations from the UNESCO/IUCN mission to the site in 1999, a “Participatory Long-Term Action Plan” for the site has been developed.  The letter also notes the interest and commitment of the State Party to participate in the UNF financed project “Enhancing our Heritage: monitoring and managing for success in World Natural Heritage sites”.  Information was received at IUCN that INPARQUES, in charge of administration for Canaima National Park is facing serious financial difficulties, that is negatively affecting the protection of the site. Deforestation and rubbish dumping around tourist camps within the Park has also been reported. According to information received, tension between indigenous communities, FIEB and national authorities remains high with regard to the issue of the power line project.  Further information on the state of conservation of Canaima National Park will be presented by IUCN at the Bureau session. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 25 BUR V.138-141

V.138     The Bureau noted a progress report received for the development of the Action Plan for Canaima National Park from the Venezuelan authorities in December 2000. The aim of the Action Plan is to promote dialogue between all the stakeholders of the National Park in order to create favourable collaboration for the protection of the Park. To this end, three workshops were held in 2000 for the Pemon Communities living within or near the National Park. The themes discussed included community participation, environmental education, ecotourism and protection of flora and fauna. More meetings with the local communities in different parts of the Park will be needed in order to get the full participation of the communities for guaranteeing the viability of the Action Plan.

V.139     IUCN has received a number of reports on the situation in the Canaima National Park. There is ongoing and increasing concern and opposition to the construction of a power-line, which cuts through a limited portion of the Park. Indigenous people from the Pemon Communities continue to oppose the power line due to the long-term consequences that the project will have on both the territories they occupy and their cultural integrity. They have been responsible for toppling over thirty power line towers. The National Guard now has a permanent presence in the Park in order to guarantee the continuation of the project.   Although the main objective of the power line is to sell electricity to the Brazilian city of Boa Vista, electricity is also required to exploit the mineral resources in the Venezuelan Guyana Shield area.  Apart from existing traditional mining operations, it is expected that the power line will fuel new mining developments in six important buffer zones adjacent to the World Heritage site. Several international mining corporations have started a programme of land acquisition and identification, including Crystallex International and Placer Dome. There are concerns about potential impacts associated with mining around the Canaima National Park.  On several occasions, indigenous people have reported an influx of small-scale miners heading towards the headwaters of the Caroni River inside the National Park. Although illegal, these violations have not been persecuted. Without due ecological consideration, the potential industrial development of the region adjacent to Canaima National Park and the advance of mining threaten to isolate the Park within a few years, thus putting in jeopardy its long-term integrity.

V.140     IUCN requested the State Party to provide detailed information on what has been implemented after the 1999 IUCN mission. The IUCN Representative also informed the Bureau that Canaima National Park is one of the sites included in the UNESCO/IUCN/UNF-UNFIP project on management effectiveness for World Heritage natural sites. This project may help to provide some possible solutions for the problems existing at the site. The IUCN Representative furthermore recommended that the proposed World Heritage Indigenous Peoples' Council of Experts (WHIPCOE) may consider inviting participants from this site to the Council.

V.141     The Bureau recalled the recommendations made by the 1999 IUCN mission report, in particular the urgent need to create mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders on the conservation and management of the area. This should include the indigenous Pemon Communities, mining interests, and relevant government agencies. This mission also recommended that an Action Plan be developed by the State Party as soon as possible to follow up recommendations of the mission. The Bureau urged the State Party to report on the implementation of these recommendations and requested the State Party for a report on this situation and possible impacts on the site by 15 September 2001.

Decision Adopted: 25 COM VIII

 

Reports on the state of conservation of natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List noted by the Committee

Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

Fraser Island (Australia)

The Sundarbans (Bangladesh)

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Gros Morne National Park (Canada)

Nahanni National Park (Canada)

Los Katios National Park (Colombia) 

Caves of the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (Hungary/Slovakia)

The Committee noted that the issues raised concern only the Slovak part of this transboundary site.

Sundarbans National Park (India) 

The Delegate of India informed the Committee that there is no National Waterways Project that is planned or likely to impact this site.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)

The Observer of Indonesia thanked the Australian authorities for their financial assistance. He informed the Committee that it would be difficult to comply with the deadline of 1 February and that a report could be provided by the end of March 2002.

Aeolian Islands (Italy)

The Observer of Italy confirmed that there was a court decision on 4 December 2001, which is not yet public, but that it is hoped to be available soon. She informed the Committee that the collaboration between the autonomous regional Government and the central Government has commenced and that a meeting will take place to find a solution. 

Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania)

The Delegate of Egypt brought to the attention of the Committee the importance of protecting the wetlands, which are known to be important rest places for the migratory birds along their routes. He suggested that the World Heritage Centre should have a plan defining the wetlands, which are important for the birds and to use this information for establishing "satellite" World Heritage sites. IUCN informed of the co-operation between the World Heritage Centre and the Ramsar Convention as well as with Bird Life International for the protection of the wetlands. He also highlighted the importance of the surrounding areas to the World Heritage sites and the links with the Man and Biosphere programme for the protection of the sites. The Secretariat informed of the on-going discussions with the Secretariat of the Convention of Migratory Species to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between these two Conventions.

Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia)

Sian Ka'an (Mexico)

The Delegate of Mexico informed that the confirmation of the Ecological Land-Use Plan is in its final phase and consequently she asked that the deadline for the report requested by the Bureau be set for 15 May 2002 for examination at the twenty-sixth session of the Committee in June.

Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)

Western Caucasus (Russian Federation)

Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation)

Doñana National Park (Spain)

Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast (United Kingdom)

St Kilda (United Kingdom)

Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (United States of America)

Canaima National Park (Venezuela)