1.         Socotra Archipelago (Yemen) (N 1263)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2008

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/1263/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1263/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

December 2012: IUCN mission; June 2014: IUCN/Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1263/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

The State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property, as was requested in Decision 37 COM 7B.9.

On 7 January 2015, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party to verify media reports about an energy crisis on the island that forced local residents to cut wood for fuel, posing a threat to the unique flora that justifies the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

The State Party replied on 2 February 2015, confirming the energy crisis but noting that residents only collected fallen wood without cutting down or damaging trees and that the Governor of Socotra has confirmed that the situation is back under control and that all necessary measures will be taken to ensure the preservation of the property’s rare flora and fauna.

An IUCN/Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) mission visited the property in June 2014, in the framework of the 2014-2016 Partnership Agreement between IUCN and ARC-WH for the development and implementation of the Tabe’a Programme for Natural World Heritage in the Arab Region.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The 2014 IUCN/ARC-WH mission noted that fire wood collection by local residents is limited to the collection of dead wood.  In 2012, a charcoal workshop was established on the island by a foreign investor, which produced 265,000 kg of charcoal in 2014.  There is a concern that this type of foreign investment induces change to the sustainable wood collection techniques traditionally practiced on the island.  It is recommended that the Committee welcome the information provided by the State Party in response to the World Heritage Centre’s letter raising concerns about wood cutting in the property and that the situation is reported to be back under control.  It is also recommended that the Committee express its concern about the recent energy shortages on Socotra. Given that there is a high risk of recurrence of such events, these are likely to lead to increasing pressure on the property’s natural resources.

In the absence of a report from the State Party, little up to date information is available on the current state of conservation of the property and on progress achieved by the State Party in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2012 IUCN mission. It should be recalled that the 2012 mission identified road building, grazing, invasive species and extraction of marine resources as the main conservation issues affecting the property. The 2014 IUCN/ARC-WH mission confirmed that infrastructure development, grazing and fishing remain priority conservation issues and also noted that tourism is creating additional pressure on fish.

Owing to the unstable situation in Yemen, the representatives of the national responsible authorities may face difficulties in addressing the abovementioned issues and ensuring the protection of the property. It is therefore essential that temporary measures be foreseen in order to ensure the continued protection of the property.

It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its requests to the State Party (Decision 37 COM 7B.9), and that it request the State Party to submit a report on the state of conservation of the property and on progress achieved in the implementation of the 2012 IUCN mission recommendations, for examination by the Committee at its 40th session in 2016.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.9, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit its report on the state of conservation of the property, as requested by its Decision 37 COM 7B.9;
  4. Notes with concern that the Socotra Archipelago has become vulnerable owing to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen;
  5. Welcomes the information provided by the State Party that the energy crisis that forced local residents to collect fire wood has been resolved and the assurances given by the Governor of Socotra that all necessary measures will be taken to ensure the preservation of the property’s rare flora and fauna, but expresses its concern that recent energy shortages are reported on Socotra, which given the risk of recurrence are likely to lead to increasing pressure on the property’s natural resources;
  6. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to:
    1. immediately devise and adopt an action plan for the full activation and implementation the 2008 Cabinet Decrees,
    2. commence the establishment of an independent management authority mandated for the management and long term sustainable development of the property,
    3. ensure that the road network in the property is not expanded and that the road master plan is revised in line with the property’s zoning plan, with a particular focus on mitigating impacts from existing roads,
    4. implement all other recommendations of the 2012 IUCN mission;
  7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 40th session in 2016.