A report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party on 2 February 2011. From 16 to 21 February 2011, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th Session (Brasilia, 2010). The mission report is available online at:http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM
a) Corrective measures implemented
The State Party indicates that since 2005 when the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, measures have been carried out to address conservation issues at the property. These have included infrastructure works to mitigate the impact of rain on built heritage, the formulation of a Conservation and Development Plan and inter-institutional agreements to ensure adequate management arrangements. Progress made in this respect was noted by the 2008 reactive monitoring mission, which also underscored the actions that had yet to be implemented.
b) State of conservation of the property
From October 2010 to January 2011, Falcon State, where the property is located, has experienced an exceptionally intense rainy season which resulted in a state of emergency declaration in late November and early December 2010. This affected the property’s built heritage and the State Party notes that consequently conditions have not been met to consider the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
A systematic condition survey was carried out in November 2010, and based on the results; general actions have been identified for continuous maintenance, as well as long-term actions for interventions at the urban and infrastructure levels to consolidate the urban-architectural unit. The survey also identified buildings that were affected by the rain, including 247 in Coro and 94 in La Vela; to date 143 have been addressed within the emergency programme.
The 2011 mission noted that in general, the property maintains its conditions of integrity and authenticity. However, several effects were evident as a result of environmental conditions and the nature of the subsurface soils that affect the property. These include water infiltration, loss of earthen surfaces, deformation and wall structures, fissures, cracks, collapses and cave-ins. It also indicated that although the drainage system had been completed, it was proved ineffective and insufficient during the heavy rains of 2010, which led to the central area of the city being flooded for several days.
In addition to physical factors, the mission noted that with the changes in the management structure, several issues remained unaddressed such as the development of conservation plans with intervention criteria, and the monitoring mechanisms which have led to a situation where interventions are mostly reactive rather than proactive. It also noted that a decision had been made to allow free vehicle traffic flow in the historic area, which significantly affects the qualities of the city. Similarly, regulations for new constructions are not systematically enforced, leading to buildings that impact to some extent the character of the property.
c) Buffer zone
The mission noted that the review of the boundaries of the protected area and the definition of the buffer zone with their regulatory measures were still pending. These actions would have regulated interventions in the buffer zone that would impact the urban landscape of the property. Ordinances to protect the historic area of La Vela have also not been passed.
d) Planning and management tools
The Plan Integral de Conservación y Desarrollo para Coro y La Vela (PLINCODE) which was developed in 2007 has not yet received official approval. However, a new management tool called “Management Commitment” has been developed for the planning and sustainable conservation of the protected area. It is recognized as a legal entity by the Organic Law of Public Administration and was signed in January 2011 by community councils and local and regional institutions, including the Government of the State of Falcon and the Municipalities of Miranda-Coro and Colina-Puerto de la Vela, and is awaiting official publication. This has resulted in the creation of a Management Unit with a Board of Directors including representatives from the Institute of Cultural Heritage (IPC), the Government of the State of Falcon and the Municipalities of Colina and Miranda, as well as representatives from each of the community councils, who will then appoint a Technical Council charged with the implementation of action plans and policies. It is expected that this new entity will replace the current Management Office so that community councils are effectively integrated in planning and decision-making processes.
Although awaiting official formalization, since 2010, work has commenced through the hosting of six meetings involving stakeholders, resulting in the definition of two strategies for the restoration of domestic architecture. The first one considers priority interventions in areas at risk, and the second is geared towards the creation of means so that restoration activities are imbedded in daily practices. For the implementation of the latter, earthen architecture artisans will be coordinated with building owners; with materials being provided by various institutions, and administered by community councils.
The mission noted that this positive development has resulted in greater social participation in heritage endeavours and confirmed that adequate levels of co-operation currently exist between the three levels of government. It indicated however that the Management Agreement is only a legal instrument and that the definition of a conservation plan is still necessary, which should take into account historical and archaeological research in the formulation of restoration projects. Also, the enforcement of laws and regulations is still needed for the effective protection of the property.