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
- Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting (Collection of medicinal plants)
- Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
- Water infrastructure (hydroelectric development downstream of the property)
- Management systems/ management plan (need to consolidate management of the Parwati Valley within the national park)
- Human resources (inadequate levels of staffing, equipment and training for patrolling in high-altitude terrain)
- Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
- Others (Rights issues with respect to local communities and indigenous peoples in the Tirthan and Sainj Wildlife Sanctuaries and in the Jiwanal Valley within the national park)
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1406/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
On 27 December 2018, 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, and reports progress in addressing Decision 40 COM 7B.88 as follows:
- The State Party reaffirms its commitment to realize the vision of a significantly enlarged World Heritage property by including the National Parks of Pin Valley and Khirganga, as well as the wildlife sanctuaries of Rupi Bhaba and Kanawar, which would roughly triple the current surface area of the property;
- In 2017, the State Board for Wildlife of Himachal Pradesh (SBWL) confirmed an earlier decision to merge Khirganga National Park with Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (GHNPCA), thereby initiating the corresponding process, while noting that both Khirganga and Pin Valley national parks have yet to gain full national park status;
- The significant expansion of GHNPCA to create a coherently managed single conservation complex is to be formalized by a property extension nomination, once the merge of the aforementioned protected areas into the GHNPCA has been completed at the national level;
- Acknowledging that local livelihoods depend on natural resources and the implications of access restrictions in protected areas, several activities are reported in GHNPCA: interaction with Women Saving and Credit Groups to support alternative livelihood options; dialogue with and guidance for local tourism operators; as well as diverse capacity development efforts in cooperation with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Concrete community initiatives include involvement of local community leaders in a Management Council convening annually; a Women Folk Festival; a Natural Heritage Fest celebrating a nature-culture linkage through local arts and culture; and a GIZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH)-assisted community conservation programme promoting Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes;
- The SBWL decided against the recommended re-categorization of Tirthan and Sainj Wildlife Sanctuaries as national parks in order to avoid relocation of villages in line with legal national park requirements and “to allow local communities to continue sustainable activities in the area” in the wording of SBWL, while trying to convince local people to “phase out” grazing in Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary;
- Management deficiencies identified by WII in a major Management Effectiveness Assessment are reported to be under control;
- The State Party reaffirms its commitment to undertake a regional World Heritage study recommended by the Committee (Decision 38 COM 8B.7), which fully considers the existing property.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The intended extension of the property is in line with the Committee’s decisions and would constitute a positive step towards reducing the property’s vulnerability to various threats, including climate change, and extend the representativeness of ecosystem diversity within the property. It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for taking further steps towards a ‘landscape approach’ under the Convention, while noting the need for coherent management, adequate governance, funding and staffing in both the envisaged expanded property and its buffer zone. It is recommended the Committee recall that the proposed extension would require a Significant Boundary Modification, as foreseen in Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines and follow the procedures similar to a new nomination, including the requirement for the area to be previously included in the Tentative List. It is recommended the State Party seeks guidance from IUCN and the World Heritage Centre on the nomination process, as required.
Local natural resource use is a critical governance and management issue. There is no alternative to meaningful involvement of local resource users to address corresponding conflicts. The ongoing efforts in this regard are therefore most welcome, and especially efforts to strengthen the involvement of local communities and indigenous peoples, and the Committee may request that the State Party ensure meaningful involvement of local stakeholders and rights holders in governance and management, including in the process of enlarging the property. The reportedly 15,000 residents of the relatively small buffer zone (Ecozone) need sustainable livelihood options to reduce pressure on both the buffer zone and the property. According to Paragraph 119 of the Operational Guidelines, sustainable use is possible as long as it is “ecologically and culturally sustainable” and does not “impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property”. Grazing and other resource use have been an integral part of the mountain ecosystem for long periods of time and are thus not per se incompatible with World Heritage status. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to assess the impacts of grazing and other local resource use on the OUV of the property as a basis for participatory informed decision-making and management.
The State Party decision against the re-categorization of Sainj Wildlife Sanctuary as a national park on the grounds of avoiding a then applicable requirement to relocate three villages is noted. However, as already noted in the state of conservation report presented to the 40th session of the Committee (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), it is not entirely clear why the same rationale appears to be suggested for Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary, which is used for traditional seasonal grazing but does not include any villages. No further explanation has been provided by the State Party on this matter.
The State Party’s reply regarding management responses to deficiencies identified in a Management Effectiveness Assessment exercise conducted by WII is noted but unfortunately does not provide the necessary information to allow for an assessment. It is recommended that the Committee request an in-depth response in subsequent state of conservation reporting.
It is also recommended that the Committee welcome the reaffirmed commitment of the State Party to undertake a regional comparative study within the Himalayas and adjacent mountain regions with a view to identifying potential World Heritage candidate areas and boundary configurations in this region, reiterate its recommendation to consult with other States Parties in the region, and invite the State Party to seek technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.8
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decisions 37 COM 8B.11, 38 COM 8B.7 and 40 COM 7B.88, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions, respectively,
- Welcomes the ongoing efforts of the State Party to significantly extend the property and, in particular, initiate the process to merge Khirganga National Park with Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (GHNPCA) and encourages the State Party to proceed with the creation of a significantly expanded conservation complex in the Indian Western Himalaya under the World Heritage Convention, with the technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as required;
- Recalls that the intended extension would require a Significant Boundary Modification in line with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines and would follow procedures similar to a new nomination, including the requirement for any proposed areas to be previously included on the Tentative List;
- Also welcomes continuous efforts to strengthen the involvement of local communities and indigenous peoples and requests the State Party to ensure meaningful involvement of local stakeholders and rights holders in the governance and management, including in the process of enlarging the property;
- Reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to fully involve local resource users in decision-making to find mutually acceptable ways to resolve any ongoing resource use conflicts, while respecting any rights of use, and also requests the State Party to conduct an assessment of the impacts from existing resource use (in particular grazing and collection of medicinal plants) on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property to help establish a basis for such decision-making;
- Notes that a decision was made by the State Party not to re-categorize Tirthan and Sainj Wildlife Sanctuaries as national parks on the grounds of avoiding a relocation of villages;
- Regrets that the State Party did not provide sufficient information to allow for an assessment of its response to deficiencies identified in a Management Effectiveness Assessment and reiterates its request to the State Party to report on:
- Transit of livestock through the property,
- The process to recognize the rights of local communities in Jiwanal Valley,
- Consolidation of management of the Parvati Valley,
- Human-wildlife conflicts,
- Adequate levels of staffing, equipment and training for patrolling in high-altitude terrain;
- Further welcomes the reaffirmed commitment of the State Party to undertake a regional comparative study of natural World Heritage potential within the Himalayas and adjacent mountain regions, and also encourages the full consideration of the property, including its envisaged extension, and reiterates its recommendation to the State Party to consult with other relevant States Parties from the region on this matter and seek technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as required;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.