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 2018

On 31 January 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, a summary of which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/documents/. Following the World Heritage Centre’s request on 5 February 2018, the State Party submitted further information on 7 March 2018. On 15 March 2018, the State Party submitted a draft Management Plan, including a draft Visitor Management Plan, which was commented upon by the World Heritage Centre on 19 April 2018. A State Party decision on Amendments to the Spatial Plan for the property was submitted on 18 April 2018.

Overall, the State Party reports the following:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

In its Decision 41 COM 7B.3, the Committee considered that the significant and unsustainable expansion of tourist facilities inside the property with associated visual impacts as well as pressures on the property’s sensitive hydrogeology presented a potential danger to its OUV. It further noted that in the absence of substantial progress in addressing these threats the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger would be considered during the current session.

The State Party has made commendable progress in responding to the Committee’s concerns, resulting in strengthened regulations monitoring of compliance with construction and water permits, and a significant reduction in the number of issued building permits. It is also noted with appreciation that PIPLNP has enhanced its monitoring of aquatic ecosystems and continues to exercise its right to pre-emptively purchase land within the property. PIPLNP’s involvement in issuing building permits inside the property thanks to the amendments recently introduced to the Nature Protection Act should also be welcomed. The high number of violations of the existing legislation and permits recorded during recent inspections demonstrates the imperative of continuing these efforts. It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party’s decision to develop amendments to the Spatial Plan, which also envisages a SEA that considers impacts on OUV, including the conditions of integrity of the property and cumulative impacts, in line with decisions 40 COM 7B.95 and 41 COM 7B.3.  It is further recommended that the preparation of a new Management Plan for the property, including the Visitor Management Plan, is fully harmonized with the procedures foreseen for the SEA and for the amendments to the Spatial Plan, in order to ensure that the overall management framework is fully consistent with the protection of OUV. While the State Party’s commitment to share the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of all the planned projects with the World Heritage Centre is appreciated, it is recommended that the cumulative impacts of all known plans is nevertheless also assessed as part of the SEA.

It is also appreciated that the State Party is planning to upgrade water infrastructure in order to improve wastewater treatment and water supply management and ensure compliance with the EU Directive concerning urban wastewater treatment (UWWTD) by 2023. While noting that the installation of a mobile wastewater treatment plant and the restoration of the water supply line were initiated as an emergency measure in 2018, it is of concern that – amid water permit violations and exponentially growing tourist numbers – only 20.68% of the pollution load is currently treated in accordance with UWWTD. 

Growing visitation is likely to increase the pressure on the property’s sensitive hydro-ecological system. The draft Visitor Management Plan includes provisions for a redistribution of visitors and a limit to visitor numbers at peak times, but it focuses on the carrying capacity of the park’s infrastructure and how it could be expanded rather than on the carrying capacity of the ecosystem and the attributes that demonstrate its OUV. It is therefore recommended that the Visitor Management Plan is further elaborated in order to emphasize the preservation of the property’s OUV as the primary objective and to establish carrying capacity based on strict scientific criteria.

While substantial progress has been made, it is considered that until key outstanding actions have been completed, including the upgrade of water infrastructure, the completion of the SEA, amendments to the Spatial Plan and the finalization of the management and visitor management plans, the continued exponential growth of visitation at the property represents a potential danger to its OUV, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.74

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.3, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for progress made to respond to the Committee’s decisions and to the 2017 mission recommendations, and urges the State Party to continue these efforts to fully implement all recommendations of the mission;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s decision to amend the Spatial Plan for Plitvice Lakes National Park which would include preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), in line with IUCN’s Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and Decisions 40 COM 7B.95 and 41 COM 7B.3, and requests the State Party to provide the results of the SEA to the World Heritage Centre, once available;
  5. Takes note of the additional guidelines on the implementation of the current Spatial Plan developed and provided to the relevant regional authorities responsible for issuance of construction permits, and the amendments to the Nature Protection Act which ensure participation of the Public Institution Plitvice Lakes National Park (PIPLNP) in decision-making processes regarding issuance of permits, and also requests the State Party to continue its efforts to strictly regulate and monitor both issuance of new permits and compliance of existing buildings with the relevant regulations;
  6. Also welcomes the preparation of a new management plan for the property, including a visitor management plan, and further requests the State Party to ensure that this process is fully harmonized with the procedures foreseen for the SEA and for amending the Spatial Plan, in order to ensure that the overall management framework is fully consistent with the protection of the OUV of the property;
  7. While noting information provided by the State Party regarding the existing plans to improve wastewater and water supply management within the property, considers that the inadequate water supply and drainage system, water pollution risks and continued exponential growth of visitation at the property continue to represent a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and therefore also urges the State Party to address all pending issues related to water and visitor management as a matter of priority;
  8. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, a progress report, and by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.