1.         Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) (N 1290)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2008

Criteria  (vii)

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/1290/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1290/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January 2011 Joint WHC/IUCN reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Illegal logging;

b) Growth in human population;

c) Tourism pressures associated with growth in visitor numbers and heavy concentration in specific areas;

d) Agricultural advances;

e) Forest fires.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1290/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 1 January 2011, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report provides detailed information on the financial resources attributed to anti-logging activities, and the current state of illegal logging in the property, as well as other conservation issues and recent tourism developments. From 10-14 January 2011, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property. The mission report is available online at the following Web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM.

a) Illegal logging

The State Party reports that from January to July 2010, the incidence of illegal logging within the property has diminished by approximately 90% in comparison with previous years, due to anti-logging activities undertaken by the State Party’s National Commission for the Protection of Natural Areas (CONANP), in collaboration with State Governments, NGOs and local communities. The State Party reports that in the period 2009-2010, only 1.56 hectares of forest were lost from the property as a result of illegal logging. In contrast, the State Party reports that a total of 117.09 hectares of forest was lost from the property during the same period, mainly as a result of extreme weather events. The joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission notes that while all logging is banned in the core zone of the property, sustainable logging is allowed in the buffer zone, which means that control of legal and illegal timber production will always remain a challenge, as preventing illegally cut logs from entering the legal stream of forest products requires a rigorous chain of custody tracking systems. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the mission’s recommendation that the excellent and very important efforts in place to control illegal logging as well as fires and other types of habitat conversion should be maintained.

b) Tourism pressure

The State Party reports that, under the Strategy for Sustainable Development of Tourism and Recreation in Mexico’s Protected Areas, a Public Use Programme and a Sustainable Tourism Development Programme are being implemented at the property. The State Party states that these programmes aim to control and mitigate negative visitation impacts to the biophysical, social, cultural and administrative environment of the property, as well as to promote natural resource conservation by providing alternative livelihoods to local communities. The State Party notes that a number of tourism infrastructure development projects have been implemented between 2008 and 2010, and states that a series of mitigation measures are taken to limit the potential negative impacts on the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the State Party’s efforts to promote alternative livelihoods for local communities, and note the mission’s recommendation that non-butterfly related tourism opportunities be developped, and efforts to improve the visitor experience further strengthened through appropriate signage on hiking trails, trail maintenance, and signage at hibernation viewing points to explain the World Heritage status of the area and the Outstanding Universal Value of the Monarch butterfly migration phenomenon. They also note that any discussion of tourism development should put the needs of the butterflies first, considering that high tourist numbers and poorly regulated visitation could potentially pose a threat to the butterflies by causing the degradation of their overwintering environment. They further note that the mission also recommends that the State Party develop a clear and transparent benefit-sharing mechanism, in order to ensure that any tourism revenue is distributed more equitably, and to clarify how all communities located within the property and its buffer zones are compensated for their efforts to conserve the property.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the reported progress made in controlling illegal logging, the main direct threat to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. The promotion of alternative livelihoods and the strengthening and diversification of tourism activities are also critical in addressing the root causes to deforestation threats. In this regard, the development of a clear and transparent benefit-sharing mechanism to clarify how all communities located within the property and its buffer zones are compensated for their efforts to conserve the property, and to ensure that any tourism revenue is distributed more equitably would be useful. Finally, efforts at further improving the visitor experience through appropriate signage along hiking trails, trail maintenance, and signage at hibernation viewing points to explain the World Heritage status of the area and the Outstanding Universal Value of the Monarch butterfly migration phenomenon would maximize visitor engagement. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.32

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.35, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Commends the State Party for the progress achieved in reducing illegal logging in the property, and encourages the State Party to continue its actions to control illegal logging, as well as fires and other types of habitat conversion;

4. Welcomes the State Party's efforts to promote alternative livelihoods for local communities, and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2011 reactive monitoring mission, in particular:

a) Develop a clear and transparent benefit-sharing mechanism to clarify how all communities located within the property and its buffer zones are compensated for their efforts to conserve the property, and to ensure that any tourism revenue is distributed more equitably,

b) Further improve the visitor experience through appropriate signage along hiking trails, trail maintenance, and signage at hibernation viewing points to explain the World Heritage status of the area and the Outstanding Universal Value of the Monarch butterfly migration phenomenon,

c) Explore options for the development of non-butterfly related tourism activities;

5. Notes that any discussion on tourism development should deal with the conservation of butterfly populations as a priority, considering that high tourist numbers and poorly regulated visitation could potentially pose a threat to the butterflies by causing the degradation of their overwintering environment;

6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including information on progress achieved in the development of a benefit-sharing mechanism, the improvement of the visitor experience, and the development of non-butterfly related tourism activities.