1.         Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia) (N 98bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1992-1997

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1992-1998)
Total amount approved: USD 46,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

February 1992: IUCN expert mission; September 1992: Joint UNESCO/IUCN mission; September 1993: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission; May 1996: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2017: 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/98/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property from 17 to 19 January 2017. On 1 February 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/documents/. The State Party reports the following:

On 20 April 2017, the State Party submitted an Action Plan for improving the Plitvice Lakes National Park conservation status as an addendum to its report. The plan has been adopted by an interdepartmental Operational Working Group established in April 2017. Several activities of this plan are already being implemented, as reported above, and seek to strengthen collaboration among the participating institutions and with other stakeholders.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The 2017 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission confirmed the Committee’s concern over the significant recent expansion of tourism facilities within the property. While concluding that the ecological integrity of the property has so far been preserved, the mission noted the current and potential serious threats to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) arising from these developments together with related threats of excessive number of visitors, water usage, water pollution, road infrastructure and traffic.

In response to Decision 40 COM 7B.95, and to claims that the process of issuing new construction permits did neither adequately involve the management authority of the property nor fully follow the provisions of the Spatial Plan in force, the State Party has initiated an assessment of suspected illegally built facilities within the property and an analysis of the Spatial Plan and its implementation. These efforts, which will inform the potential amendments to the related procedures and legislative framework, should be welcomed and concluded prior to issuing any new construction permits. To date, the issuance of permits has in fact continued, as reported by the mission.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Spatial Plan requested by the Committee will be initiated by the State Party only if deemed necessary after completion of the above-mentioned analyses. However, the findings of the mission confirm that an SEA would be necessary in order to fully assess the existing, potential and cumulative impacts of this plan on the property and its OUV. The conclusions of an SEA could also feed into the new Management Plan and the Visitor Management Plan, currently being developed. It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to undertake this SEA as a matter of urgency in order to inform the measures required to ensure adequate protection of the OUV of the property.

The mission was briefly informed of a major EU-supported project to rehabilitate water infrastructure within the property. It is recommended that the Committee request further information on this project. Given the rapid increase of developments within the property and in its surroundings, it is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to undertake rigorous Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), including a specific assessment of impacts on the OUV, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, for all major developments within the property, including major tourism facilities and other infrastructure, and to submit them to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

The mission also confirmed the commitment and the strong institutional and scientific capacity of the State Party as a premise to address the issues related to both conservation and physical planning, but emphasized a need to harmonize these two management regimes to be fully consistent with the protection of the OUV and the provisions of the World Heritage Convention through appropriate legislative and other adjustments. It is noted that the State Party has already submitted a proposed Action Plan for the improvement of the state of conservation of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to take urgent action to implement all the mission’s recommendations, and to review the Action Plan once the results of the analysis of the Spatial Plan and its implementation are available.

While the State Party’s current efforts are commendable, in view of the current and potential impacts from the expansion of tourism facilities and the excessive number of visitors on the OUV of the property, it is recommended that the Committee consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, at its 42nd session in 2018 if no substantial progress is achieved by the State Party in implementing the requests of the Committee.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.3

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.95, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Notes with significant concern the conclusions of the 2017 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission that, while the ecological integrity of the property has so far been preserved, the property and its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are threatened by the significant expansion of tourist facilities, excessive number of visitors, associated pressures from unsustainable water use, water pollution, traffic as well as pressures to expand road infrastructure;
  4. Considers that inappropriate and poorly regulated development of tourist facilities inside the property is causing visual impacts and pressures on the sensitive hydrogeology of the area, and therefore represents a potential danger to the OUV of the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Acknowledging the strong institutional and scientific capacity of the State Party as a premise to address the issues related to both conservation and physical planning, appreciates the State Party’s stated commitment to address the threats to the property by initiating a number of actions to remedy the situation, as noted below;
  6. Notes that a process to develop the Management Plan and the Visitor Management Plan for the property has been initiated, and requests the State Party to provide these draft plans to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, as soon as they become available;
  7. Also notes that an analysis of the Spatial Plan and its implementation, as well as the inspectional supervision of suspected illegally built facilities within the property have been initiated, and urges the State Party to ensure that no new construction permits are issued until this process, which is expected to inform the potential amendments to the related procedures and legislative framework, has been completed and proposed developments are confirmed to not have a negative impact on the OUV of the property;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Spatial Plan, including a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV and on the ecological and visual integrity of the property, in line with IUCN’s Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit this to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  9. Also requests the State Party to provide further information on the major EU-supported project to rehabilitate water infrastructure within the property;
  10. Further requests the State Party to undertake rigorous Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), including a specific assessment of impacts on OUV in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, of all major developments within the property, such as the upgrade of the water infrastructure, the construction of the presentation centre and the reconstruction of entrances to the park proposed within the Action Plan, and to submit them to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  11. Taking note of the proposed Action Plan to improve the property’s conservation status, requests furthermore the State Party to fully and effectively implement all recommendations made by the 2017 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission as a matter of priority, and to review the Action Plan based on the results of the analysis of the Spatial Plan and its implementation as soon as they are available;
  12. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 42nd session in 2018, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress in the implementation of the above, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.