1.         Kaziranga National Park (India) (N 337)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (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/337/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved: USD 50,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/337/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: The property has benefited from the UNF funded World Heritage India programme from 2008. The project interventions cover the following main areas: enhance management effectiveness and build staff capacity; increase the involvement of local communities in the management of the World Heritage site and promote their sustainable development; and raise awareness through communications and advocacy.

Previous monitoring missions

1997: World Heritage Centre mission; February 2002: IUCN mission; February 2008: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Poaching of rhinos;

b) Development of a railway adjacent to the property;

c) Proposed upgrading of National Highway 37 adjacent to the property;

d) Insufficient infrastructure, budget and staffing.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/337/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

The State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) and thus, limited information is available on the current state of previously identified threats to the property. The following report is based on information received by IUCN.

a) Poaching

IUCN has received reports that poaching is largely under control, and that the property contains healthy populations of rhino and tiger. It has also received reports that the park authorities have increased efforts to prevent poaching, including intensive patrolling, recruitment of additional forest guards, procurement of new communication equipment, counter operations against poachers and the use of informants from local communities to apprehend transgressors. The reports received by IUCN note that a Government Notification of 14 July 2010 provides all forest officers in Assam immunity from prosecution without prior sanction for use of firearms in carrying out their duty of forest and wildlife protection, which is a significant step to prevent poaching and boost staff morale.

b) Upgrading of National Highway 37

IUCN received reports that the National Highway Authority has abandoned the proposal to upgrade the NH 37, which runs along the southern boundary of the property, and already forms a partial barrier to an important wildlife migration route between the property and the Karbi Anglong Hills. The reports received by IUCN note that the National Highway Authority is considering a new alignment for the highway expansion, which will detour the property along an existing road on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra River. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the World Heritage Committee, at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009), requested the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a report on the question of the approval and location of the alternative route to the highway NH37. They consider that a report from the State Party is needed on this issue, in order to confirm the reports received by IUCN that the highway expansion will circumvent the property.

c) Invasive species

The reports received by IUCN note that spread of invasive species, particularly Mimosa, remains a concern, and that the efficacy of the efforts undertaken, including manual uprooting and controlled burning, have yet to be assessed. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that a monitoring and management system needs to be developed in order to address this threat.

d) Tourism

The reports received by IUCN also note that tourist facilities around the park are in high demand, due to the large number of tourists that visit the property every year, and that the State Government has established a committee of relevant stakeholders to discuss and evaluate tourism developments in the park. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the above committee take into account the recommendations of IUCN’s report “Sustainable tourism in natural World Heritage: priorities for action”. They consider that any tourism developments within or around the park should be strictly controlled in order to avoid adverse impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in cooperation with the District Administration.

e) Other conservation issues – dams

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the 2007 Enhancing Our Heritage Management Effectiveness report noted plans by the Governments of India and Assam to develop dams on the Brahmaputra River. They note that the annual flooding of the property is an integral part of the ecosystem processes taking place within the property, and that any construction of dams on the Brahmaputra River could have a considerable direct negative impact on the OUV of the property in relation to criterion (ix). They emphasize that the State Party should inform the World Heritage Centre of any plans of developments that could impact the property’s OUV, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and submit Environmental Impact Assessments of such plans to the World Heritage Centre prior to taking a final decision.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note reports that poaching is largely under control and that the highway expansion will circumvent the property. They consider that a report from the State Party is needed in order to confirm these statements. They recommend that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre time series data of key wildlife populations as well as poaching records, and to conduct regular monitoring of key wildlife populations to confirm and monitor the status of this threat. They also recommend that the State Party should submit to the World Heritage Centre a report on the approval and location of the alternative highway expansion that avoids the property, including a map, and confirm that the proposed upgrading of the section of highway NH37 that runs along the southern boundary of the property has been permanently abandoned. They are of the view that a monitoring and management system should be developed and implemented to address the threat of invasive species. They recall that the 2007 Enhancing Our Heritage Management Effectiveness report noted plans by the Governments of India and Assam to develop dams on the Brahmaputra River, and recommend that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of any planned developments that could negatively impact the property’s OUV, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, as well as submit Environmental Impact Assessments of such plans to the World Heritage Centre prior to taking a final decision. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.13

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.13, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property nor an Environmental Impact Assessment of the alternatives to the proposed upgrading of the highway NH37, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session;

4. Notes reports received by IUCN that:

a) The park authorities have increased efforts to prevent poaching, and that poaching is now largely under control,

b) The National Highway Authority has abandoned the proposal to upgrade highway NH37, which runs along the southern boundary of the property, and is considering a new alignment which will circumvent the property along an existing road on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra River;

5. Requests the State Party to develop and implement a monitoring and management system to address the issue of invasive species;

6. Urges the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of any planned developments that could negatively impact the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including dams, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and to submit Environmental Impact Assessments of such plans to the World Heritage Centre prior to taking a final decision;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including a report on i) the question of the approval and alignment of the alternative highway expansion that avoids the property, ii) any plans regarding dam construction that may affect the property and iii) time series data of key wildlife populations and poaching records, as well as the other issues raised above.