On 23 March 2010, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation report of the property. The report briefly outlines the status of the Kongde view resort and of the illegal footpath between Kongde and Thame, as well as the implementation of the 2007-2012 Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) Management and Tourism Plan’s priority activities.
a) Development of tourism resort in core area
The State Party reports that the final verdict of the Supreme Court of Nepal regarding the Kongde View Resort, located in the core area of the property, has not yet been issued and notes that this verdict will be provided to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available. The illegal construction of a foot trail from Kongde to Thame was stopped by the Park Authority in line with the Nepalese Wildlife Conservation Act 2029 (1972), and the report indicates that all the stakeholders in the area are against its construction. Moreover, the State Party notes that Himalayan Park Regulations (1979) prohibit the construction of new routes and trails without prior planning permission, except those that are traditionally used by local communities.
b) Strengthening the management and tourism plan
The State Party reports on the implementation of priority aspects of the management and tourism plan, as requested by Decision 33 COM 7B.17:
- Protecting endangered species and habitats: A wildlife field survey was undertaken in 2008, which found a number of snow leopards within the property, as well as increasing populations of the snow leopard’s prey species, such as Jharal (Hermitragus jemlahicus).
- Clarifying the extent and location of mining of rock, sand and turf: The State Party recalls that these activities are regulated by the Himalayan Park Regulations (1979), which sets times and dates during which natural resource exploitation and collection is permitted within the property. Building material extraction is permitted once a year for a month, and sand and turf exploitation is permitted all year round.
- Reducing pressure on forest and rangelands from wood gathering: The report indicates that the Himalayan Park Regulations (1979) allow firewood collection twice a year and timber collection for domestic purposes once a year. These activities are closely monitored by the Park and Buffer Zone Committees. The provision of micro-hydropower schemes has also significantly reduced fire wood demand, and the State Party consider that the growing ecotourism market minimises grazing pressure on rangelands.
- Controlling environmental pollution: Park management collaborates with various stakeholders and conservation partners to minimise pollution within the property and its buffer zone. One prominent partner is the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, a local NGO involved in solid waste management. Actions that have helped tackle pollution include the establishment of micro-hydropower (which has reduced air pollution) and awareness raising among local communities through several Eco-clubs.
- Monitoring the state of conservation of the property: The report notes that monitoring activities are carried out as prescribed in the SNP Management and Tourism Plan. The State Party reports that new SNP Regulations are currently being drafted and, will soon be submitted to the Nepalese Government for approval. The State Party considers that these regulations should assist in regulating, controlling and monitoring illegal developments within the park.
c) Other conservation issues of concern
The State Party reports that other current conservation issues within the property include poaching of endangered species, forest fires, pollution and growing energy needs due to tourism. However, no details are provided on the importance of these conservation issues.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome that construction of the illegal trail between Kongde and Thame has ceased, and note that this trail would have adversely affected key wildlife habitat within the property. However, the absence of a verdict regarding the Kongde View Resort case is of continuing concern, particularly as this resort has been operational for some time and the legal case ongoing since 2007.
The State Party’s efforts to implement the Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) Management and Tourism Plan are noted. However, as little data is provided on the effectiveness of conservation efforts in protecting endangered species, promoting sustainable use of natural resources within the park, and minimising environmental pollution, it is difficult to assess the current state of conservation of the property’s values. With respect to building material extraction, IUCN notes that the information provided by the State Party on this activity is insufficient to determine its extent and location, and recalls that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status.
IUCN continues to receive reports from experts working on site and its members that tourism and mountaineering pressures continue to seriously affect the property’s physical and aesthetic environment, and that there is potential for additional tourism developments within the property’s buffer zone. There has been a substantial increase in the numbers of helicopters and other aircraft flying over the property and ensuing noise pollution, as well as inadequate disposal of the garbage left by mountaineering expeditions at Amadablam and Pumori base camps in particular. With respect to potential tourism developments within the buffer zone of the SNP, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that these may affect the property’s aesthetic values and degrade its physical environment. They request the State Party to clarify whether any tourism developments are planned within this zone, and also encourage the Government of Nepal to consider officially designating a World Heritage buffer zone for the property by including the existing buffer zone of the National Park within the property’s listing and submitting a request to this effect to the World Heritage Committee.
In conclusion, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that additional effort is needed to address the tourism management issues impacting on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. The revision of the SNP Management and Tourism Plan, due in 2012, may provide a good opportunity to determine the property’s carrying capacity and indentify stronger tourism- management measures against this baseline. The State Party should be invited to submit an International Assistance request to assess tourism’s impacts on the property, identify its carrying capacity and to seek expert assistance in reviewing the tourism management measures of the SNP Tourism and Management Plan.