On 1 February 2012, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report which addresses the requests of the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) and 33rd (Seville, 2009) sessions.
a) Verige Bridge and the by-pass project
A Visual Impact Assessment of the proposed Verige bridge and its associated road network was carried out between June and November 2009, in line with the recommendations of the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission in 2008 and the request of the World Heritage Committee.
The impact assessment was part of a wider project to develop an Integrated Spatial Plan for the conservation of landscapes in Boka Kotorska Bay, through the harmonisation of spatial plans of three neighbouring municipalities and the development of an integrated transport plan. The project was supported by the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ).
The assessment concluded that the proposed bridge and access roads, viaducts, stations, tunnels, etc. would have an extremely strong and irreversible impact on the landscape and key visual links would be compromised. Further, the height of the road bridge (53 m) would limit access of maritime vessels of greater height into the Bay of Kotor and, the proposed by-pass, the coastal motorway around the bays of Kotor and Risan, would be too narrow to alleviate the increase in traffic from the link between the two motorways and the local roads.
The recommendations of the impact assessment were to carry out detailed studies on an alternative tunnel crossing of the bay, and if that proved impossible, to study modified bridge proposals, including speed restrictions on the coastal highway and changes to the access roads and to put in place an overall integrated transport policy. The Government of Montenegro adopted the results of the impact study in March 2010. Apparently all work is currently on hold.
However, the bypass around the Bay of Kotor, about which the Committee at its 33rd session expressed its great concern, has already received funding from the European Investment Bank and the project work is apparently continuing.
b) Management Plan
As part of the spatial plan project, an expert workshop was held in May 2011 to develop a Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value which was submitted by the State Party to the World Heritage Centre on 4 February 2011. The expert workshop also revised the Management Plan, which was adopted by the Government of Montenegro in December 2011. The latter has not been submitted to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for review.
There are intentions of a larger reform of the institutional management. It is estimated that the reform will start after the adoption of a Law on the Protection of the Natural Region and Cultural-Historical Region of Kotor. The 2011 report mentions the intention to create an Agency for the protection and management with coordination functions. No other details are provided. Meanwhile coordinated management is still lacking.
c) Legal Framework
A new Law on Cultural Properties was adopted in 2010. This act protects the cultural landscape as cultural heritage, regulates the proposed buffer zone and legitimises the Management Plan. As yet, it is not clear how this will translate into detailed measures to protect the property and its proposed buffer zone.
d) Buffer Zone
A Buffer Zone has been delineated and submitted for evaluation covering the Bay of Kotor as recommended by the 2008 Mission. It will be examined by the World Heritage Committee under Item 8 of the Agenda (Document WHC-12/36.COM/8B).
e) Accelerated urban development and urban pressure
In the absence of coordinated management and detailed legal protection, there is evidence of increasing tourism development. However, few details were provided by the State Party.