1.         Los Katíos National Park (Colombia) (N 711)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2009-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4628

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4628

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/711/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2002-2009)
Total amount approved: USD 73,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/711/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to Bogota in lieu of visit to the property; January 2015: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/711/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

An IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property in January 2015. Subsequently, the State Party submitted a State of conservation report on 9 February 2015. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/711/documents. The State Party report details further progress towards achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), specifically:

Tangible measures reported include a stronger response to illegal logging, overfishing and overharvesting of shellfish based on improved understanding of the challenges and increased presence on the ground. The dialogue with the Wounaan community (Juin Phubuur) within the property is ongoing, following up on a signed agreement. The State Party reaffirms that there is no legal basis for major infrastructure within the property. However, possible impacts from planned electricity transmission infrastructure which may pass near the boundaries of the property are acknowledged. Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia has established contact with the involved bi-national consortium and a consulting company involved in impact assessment of the project. While no conclusion can be made at this stage, the State Party commits itself to full consideration of the World Heritage status of the property.

The State Party describes the security situation as considerably improved, also allowing for a number of activities in the surroundings of the property, including further communication and coordination with Community Councils within the areas de facto functioning as a buffer zone. One Community Council could be supported in declaration of a protection category of Regional Integrated Management District and natural resource management guidelines in several others are in the process of being updated.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Significant further progress with the implementation of the corrective measures and towards the achievement of the DSOCR is evident, and also confirmed by the mission. Increased governmental presence and investment involving various governmental institutions and partnerships with other actors is bearing fruit. Illegal and previously uncontrolled resource use is now better monitored and could be further reduced. While still not fully under control, illegal logging does not appear to constitute a fundamental concern for the time being. Fishing and harvesting in the lagoons and the Atrato River by local communities is much better understood and agreements have been put in place. While an adequate local measure, the mission’s findings suggest excessive fishing and harvesting levels at the vicinity of the property. Eventually, efforts at much larger scale are needed, if the resources are to be managed sustainably.

Building upon a formal agreement, there is an ongoing dialogue with the indigenous Wounaan living within the property. The settlement is in line with rights granted to indigenous peoples in Colombia and World Heritage status. The balance between the livelihood needs of the community and conservation objectives has become an integral part of the management of the property. Direct communication with indigenous representatives during the mission suggests that the eventual objective of the Wounaan is recognition as a so-called “resguardo”, a communal landholding status compatible with protected area status in Colombia. The ongoing process is of major conceptual and practical interest to the World Heritage Convention and thus deserves documentation and analysis.

It now seems unambiguous that there is no legal basis for major infrastructure of any kind within the property. The planned electricity transmission corridor between Colombia and Panama could pass in the immediate vicinity of the property, which may impact on Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) indirectly. It is therefore necessary for the State Party to follow up on its commitment to fully consider the World Heritage status of the property in the assessment of the planned project.

While important challenges remain, the State Party is considered to have complied with the approved indicators set for the DSOCR. It is therefore recommended that the Committee remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. At the same time, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to maintain and further strengthen its efforts. In particular, the State Party should be encouraged to further invest in land use planning and natural resource management in the surroundings of the property, including in coordination and cooperation with Panama.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7A.19

The World Heritage Committee,
  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.32, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Highly commends the efforts made by the State Party in the implementation of the corrective measures and considers that the State Party has achieved compliance with the indicators set for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  4. Decides to remove Los Katíos National Park (Colombia) from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  5. Endorses the recommendations expressed by the Reactive Monitoring mission;
  6. Welcomes important support and cooperation by other States Parties and multilateral organizations and encourages additional support and cooperation;
  7. Notes, however, that the property continues to be vulnerable, and urges the State Party to:
    1. Further consolidate efforts to improve the security situation and ensure law enforcement across the property,
    2. Consolidate communication and cooperation with resource-dependent communities in and around the property and consider additional specialized staff to this effect,
    3. Consolidate the participatory monitoring and management of the fisheries and other freshwater biodiversity resources within and beyond the property building upon existing partnerships,
    4. Further consolidate the integration of the property into broader landscape management and land use planning, including the analysis of various conceivable scenarios to formalize or otherwise strengthen buffer zones,
    5. Make a clear commitment to the long-term securing of adequate funding, management and staffing levels in order to ensure adequate follow-up to the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  8. Takes note of the progress on coordination with Community Councils in the areas surrounding the property and invites the State Party to finalize the definition of the property’s buffer zone and submit it to the World Heritage Centre as a minor boundary modification according to paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Reiterates its request to the States Parties of Colombia and Panama to ensure that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the electricity transmission corridor include a specific assessment of potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of Los Katíos National Park (Colombia) and Darien National Park (Panama), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit the results of the ESIA to the World Heritage Centre as soon as they are available, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Also encourages the State Party to:
    1. Remove the artificial connection between the Leon and Atrato Rivers through the freshwater lagoon system in the property,
    2. Consider the feasibility of extending the property so as to include the Serrania del Darien National Protection Forest Reserve and possibly other areas,
    3. Further consolidate coordination and cooperation with the neighboring State Party of Panama with the eventual vision to consider the possible formalization of a transboundary World Heritage property,
    4. Document and share the experience of the indigenous community within the property as a valuable case study;
  11. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 8C.3

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-15/39.COM/7A and WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to remove the following property from the List of World Heritage in Danger: