1.         Keoladeo National Park (India) (N 340)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (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/340/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 80,000 (Enhancing our Heritage project on management effectiveness assessment). The property has benefited from the UNF funded World Heritage India programme from 2008 (enhance management effectiveness and build staff capacity; increase the involvement of local communities in the management of the property and promote their sustainable development; and raise awareness through communications and advocacy).

Previous monitoring missions

March 2005: World Heritage Centre site visit; March 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 15 April 2011, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property to the World Heritage Centre. The report provides information on progress achieved in the execution of projects addressing water shortage, eradication of invasive species, collaboration with local communities and stakeholders for the management of the property, as well as a number of other conservation issues.

a) Water shortage

The State Party reports on progress achieved in the execution of the Chiksana Canal Extension project, the Govardhan Drain project, and the Dholpur – Bharatpur drinking water project. It notes that the Chiksana Canal has been extended for 3.6 km into the property, potentially providing 50 million cubic feet (mcft) of water annually to the property during the rainy season. It also notes that work on the Govardhan Drain has started and is expected to be completed within six months (although it does not indicate whether this will be in time for the 2011 monsoon which begins around June). When complete it will provide another 300 mcft of water annually to the property. The State Party further notes that the Dholpur – Bharatpur drinking water project is nearing completion, and that water is expected to be made available to the property by June 2011. This project, which was initiated in 1999, was initially expected to provide 310 mcft of water to the property every year during the first phase of its operation until the year 2010, and thereafter 62.5 mcft annually. It is unclear whether this commitment will extend beyond 2010 as a result of the delay in the implementation of the project.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the property needs an annual inflow of 550 mcft of water for complete flooding, and that 350 mcft is considered the minimum requirement. They consider that the urgent completion of the Govardhan Drain and the Dholpur – Bharatpur drinking water project will be a major step towards guaranteeing the property’s water supply to an adequate level in poor monsoon years. They also note reports received by IUCN that in September 2010, 710 mcft of water was released form the Panchana dam, located 100 km from Keoladeo National Park, of which 272 mcft reached the property, and consider that release of water from the Panchana dam should be continued annually. They further note that failure to restore adequate water supply appears to have adversely affected the property’s bird populations which are the basis for its inscription on the List of World Heritage, as reported in point c) below. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that if the above water management infrastructure projects are not rapidly finalised, the property may soon meet the requirements for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

 

b) Invasive species and collaboration with local communities

The joint 2008 World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission noted that approximately 10 km2 (of a total of 11 km2) of the invasive plant Prosopis juliflora had been removed by local communities, who were permitted to use the up-rooted plants for firewood and fence posts. The State Party reports that as a result of this policy, the wetland areas invaded by Prosopis have recovered. It notes that a systematic plan for the regular monitoring and removal of Prosopis has been formulated with the involvement of district administation and local communities. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that based on the vegetation map provided by the State Party, Prosopis juliflora still appears to be well established within the property. They consider that the implementation of the plan for regular removal of Prosopis with the involvement of local communities will be an important contribution to controlling this threat.

The State Party notes that in addition to the removal of Prosopis, local communities are involved in the management of the property in a number of different ways, including in prevention of offences, education, and grassland management, which also meets the villagers’ demand for thatching material. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome these initiatives to increase the involvement of local communities in the property’s management, as recommended by the 2008 mission.

 

c) Ecological monitoring programme

In conformity with Decision 33 COM 7B.14, the State Party provides time series data of the annual bird count conducted at the property since 2009, though details on the methodology used were not provided. Although the species record differs between years, and appears to be focussed mainly on migratory species, it indicates that bird populations in the property fluctuate significantly and appear to be declining. The data indicate that of the 364 bird species mentioned in the IUCN evaluation document at the time of the property’s inscription on the List of World Heritage, only 72 were recorded in 2011, and that total bird numbers fluctuated from 33,904 in 2009, to 934 in 2010 and 8,168 in 2011. The State Party notes that it has initiated preliminary steps to set up a breeding centre for Siberian crane in the property, which has not been reported at the property since 2002.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the negative results of the recent bird counts and the apparent sharp decline in the property’s migratory bird populations, particularly in light of reports received by IUCN that until 1990 the numbers of birds that flocked at the property may have exceeded 100,000. Time series data on bird populations since the time of inscription, including a description of the survey methodologies used, is urgently needed to adequately assess the state of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). IUCN notes moreover that it has received reports that a recent vegetation survey, conducted by the Tourism and Wildlife Society of India, found that 34 plant species that constitute the basis of the migratory bird populations foodchain are threatened within the property, and that six of these plant species are believed to have gone locally extinct. They consider that a detailed ecological monitoring programme, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009), including of bird populations, is necessary to effectively monitor the OUV of the property and to develop management responses to the ongoing degradation of its values.

d) Other conservation issues – management effectiveness and feral cattle and dogs

The State Party notes that a management plan for the property for the period of 2009-2013 has been prepared in consultation with stakeholders, but a copy of this has not been provided. During its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008) the Committee recommended that the State Party give more attention to the conservation of satellite wetlands outside the boundary of the property that are used by both migratory and resident birds, which were identified during the 2007 World Heritage Centre/IUCN/UNF “Enhancing our Heritage” project on management effectiveness assessment. These wetlands play an important support role in maintaining the integrity of the property. The State Party provides a list of 27 satellite wetlands at a distance from 35 to 180 km from the property, and reports on a number of activities undertaken under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats project, which is aimed at their long-term conservation.

IUCN has received reports that, in addition to the existing problem of large numbers of feral cattle in the property competing with other herbivores (already identified at the time of inscription), feral dogs are competing for food with golden jackals. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that a more proactive approach may be necessary to manage the cattle and control the feral dog population in the property. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the additional delays for the completion of the Govardhan Drain and the Dholpur – Bharatpur drinking water project since the Committee’s 33rd session (Seville, 2009). They emphasize that their urgent completion and operation is vital to the protection of the property’s OUV, and consider that, in addition, the release of water from the Panchana dam to the property should be continued annually. They also note that inadequate water supply is likely to be linked to the observed decline in the property’s bird populations, which are the basis for its inscription on the World Heritage List, as the results of the recent bird counts seem to indicate. However, they consider that there is a need for more reliable time series data of bird numbers since the inscription of the property, in order to better assess the status and trend of its bird populations. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that continued lack of adequate water supply is likely to result in a further decrease in the property’s bird populations and could result in its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in accordance with Paragraph 180 (a) (i) of the Operational Guidelines. They also consider that a detailed ecological monitoring programme is necessary to monitor the property’s OUV, in order to determine whether the implementation of the water supply projects succeeds in restoring the property’s OUV. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the formulation of a plan for regular monitoring and removal of Prosopis with community involvement. They also note that the new management plan of the property was not provided. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.14

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.14, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Welcomes the State Party's initiatives to increase the involvement of local communities in the management of the property, and commends the State Party for its efforts to ensure the long-term conservation of satellite wetlands, in line with the recommendations of the 2008 reactive monitoring mission;

4. Notes with serious concern that the completion of the Govardhan Drain and the Dholpur - Bharatpur drinking water project has been further delayed since its 33rd session (Seville, 2009), requests the State Party to ensure the completion of these projects urgently, and urges the State Party to continue the release of water from the Panchana dam to the property annually;

5. Notes that failure to urgently restore adequate water supply to the property could adversely affect the wetland bird populations for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List and could negatively impact on the Outstanding Universal Value and may meets the requirements for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in accordance with Paragraph 180 (a) (i) of the Operational Guidelines;

6. Also requests the State Party to provide accurate time series data on the property's bird populations since its inscription on the List of World Heritage, including a description of the survey methodologies used, in order to assess the status and trend of these populations;

7. Also urges the State Party to develop and implement a detailed ecological monitoring programme to monitor the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in order to ensure that the reinstatement of the property's water supply results in the restoration of its Outstanding Universal Value;

8. Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with three printed and one electronic copy of the draft revised management plan or management system;

9. Further 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 progress achieved in restoring adequate water supply to the property, as well as a detailed ecological monitoring report, for examination by the Committee at its 36th session in 2012, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.