Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (India) (N 1406rev)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2014
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/1406/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1406/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Threats identified at the time of inscription of the property:
- Rights issues with respect to local communities and indigenous peoples in the Tirthan and Sainj Wildlife Sanctuaries
- Impacts of grazing and other resource use
- Opportunities to progressively increase the size of the property, in order to increase integrity and better provide for the conservation of wide-ranging species
- Hydroelectric developments downstream of the property
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1406/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016
On 9 February 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1406/documents. Reported progress in addressing Decision 38 COM 8B.7 (Doha, 2014) can be summarized as follows:
- Given the implications for the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples, a preliminary decision was taken to not notify the Sainj and Tirthan wildlife sanctuaries as national parks, as this would require the relocation of three villages in the Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary. Definitive approval of the decision in line with applicable procedures is pending;
- Unlike the Great Himalayan National Park, the two wildlife sanctuaries within the property include small villages (Sainj) and existing user rights (Sainj and Tirthan) within their boundaries. Through an ongoing consultative process, local rights, in particular livestock grazing rights, are being resolved; further efforts are made in the buffer zone to promote alternative livelihood options;
- Strong commitment to the recommended further extension of the property is confirmed, in line with a broader rationalization of the protected areas network of Himachal Pradesh. It was decided to merge Khirganga National Park with the property and the corresponding formal process has been initiated. An eventual conservation complex, referred to by the State Party as the Western Himalaya’s Conservation Jewel, is envisaged to eventually encompass as much as three times the size of the current property. World Heritage status is described as the catalyst of the initiative, which is intended to make the vision of the largest possible conservation area in the Indian Western Himalayas a reality;
- Confirmation of the State Party’s commitment to the regional comparative study recommended by the Committee (Decision 38 COM 8B.7) with the possible support of partners such as IUCN, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Wildlife Institute of India (WII - UNESCO Category 2 Centre on World Natural Heritage Management and Training for Asia-Pacific Region) to assess the scope of ecosystems within the Himalayas and adjacent mountain regions with a view to identifying potential World Heritage candidate areas and boundary configurations in this region, including potential serial nominations / extensions. The State Party recommends that this study fully consider and inform the ongoing efforts to expand the property.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The efforts to address local and indigenous rights in parts of the property and the promotion of alternative livelihoods in the buffer zone are welcome. The preliminary decision to refrain from notifying the two wildlife sanctuaries as national parks is fully plausible in the case of Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary, given the undesirable implication that three villages would require relocation. It is less clear why the same rationale is applied to Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary, which has no permanent residents. While the maintenance of various management categories jointly forming one coherently managed conservation complex may well be adequate, the State Party should be encouraged to re-consider the possible notification of Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary as a national park in line with earlier communication submitted by the State Party at the time of the evaluation of the previously referred nomination, in 2013.
The management and conservation of the property requires the full consideration of the impacts of grazing and other forms of local resource use. However, this does not imply that such use, and associated rights would be incompatible with the conservation of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to assess the impacts of grazing and other local resource use (such as medicinal plant collection) on the OUV of the property, and to further work with local communities and indigenous peoples to underpin informed decision-making.
It is also recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for the steps taken towards the expansion of the property to become an even more significant conservation complex, tentatively named Western Himalaya’s Conservation Jewel. The use of World Heritage status as a catalyst for this process provides a notable example of the World Heritage Convention as an instrument to generate benefits for conservation beyond the boundaries of an initially inscribed property. It is likewise commendable that the entire property and its buffer zone are subject to one single management plan, under one management authority. It is strongly recommended to extend the mandate of the management plan and the management authority in parallel with the intended future extension(s).
In May 2015, a synthesis report of a national level Management Effectiveness Evaluation exercise, which took place from 2006 to 2014 and which included the property, was published by the Wildlife Institute of India. The overall positive assessment points to room for improvement in some areas, such as the poorly regulated transit of livestock through the property and unsettled rights of some villagers in the Jiwanal Valley. Moreover, the assessment notes that the Parwati Valley portion of the property still requires management consolidation, and refers to some human-wildlife conflicts and some deficiencies in staffing, equipment and training for patrolling in the high-altitude terrain.
The State Party’s confirmed commitment to the regional comparative study is welcome, which could indeed also inform the further expansion of the property. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to seek further dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN in that regard, as well as with other States Parties in the region.
Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.88
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decisions 37 COM 8B.11 and 38 COM 8B.7, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions, respectively,
- Welcomes the further progress made by the State Party as regards the intended expansion of the property, in particular the decision to incorporate Khirganga National Park within the property in the future, and encourages the State Party to continue the plan for progressive expansion, with the technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN as required, and taking into account the findings of the regional comparative study; and to submit its proposals to the World Heritage Centre, in the format of a new Nomination for examination by the Committee;
- Also welcomes the progress achieved by the State Party in working with local communities and indigenous peoples, and also encourages further local consultation and involvement in decision-making to find mutually acceptable ways to resolve any ongoing resource use conflicts, while respecting any rights of use, and on the basis of an accurate assessment of impacts from resource use (in particular grazing and collection of medicinal plants) on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
- Requests the State Party to re-consider the possibility of notification of Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary as a national park;
- Also requests the State Party to fully consider and address the management deficiencies identified in the recently published national level Management Effectiveness Assessment exercise, which took place from 2006 to 2014, in particular:
- Regulate the transit of livestock through the property,
- Conclude the process to recognise the rights of local communities in Jiwanal Valley,
- Consolidate the management of the Parwati Valley,
- Address human-wildlife conflicts,
- Ensure adequate levels of staffing, equipment and training for patrolling in high-altitude terrain;
- Further welcomes the State Party’s commitment to contribute to a regional comparative study to assess the scope of ecosystems within the Himalayas and adjacent mountain regions with a view to identifying potential World Heritage candidate areas and boundary configurations in this region, including potential serial nominations / extensions, as recommended by the Committee, and recommends that the State Party consult with other relevant States Parties from the region, as well as with IUCN and other partners as required;
- Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.