On 30 January 2009, the State Party submitted a report on the World Heritage property and on 1 February 2010, it provided another document to the World Heritage Centre entitled « Management plan of Aeolian Islands UNESCO WHS » and an updated report on the state of conservation of the property. This document contained a chapter regarding “recommendations by UNESCO” which is intended by the State Party to be its submission on the state of conservation of the property. The report comments on the outstanding questions of implementation of points 6(b) to 6(i) of the World Heritage Committee Decision 31 COM 7B.24, which were reiterated in Decision 32 COM 7B.18.
The State Party report considers the mining issue as well as the additional points mentioned. The key points in its response are as follows:
(i) In response to the request to permanently stop mining, the State Party reconfirms that there was a definitive closure of pumice quarries in the property on 31 August 2007, seizure of mining machinery, and impounding of quarried material and that National Law 394/1991 bans any possible resumption of activity.
(ii) In response to the recommendation to set a deadline for the removal of stockpiles material, the report indicates that the Sicilian regional industry authority is arranging a plan for removal, but first requires completing a preventive ecological assessment. No firm timetable is stated for completion of this action.
(iii) In response to the request to prepare a management plan for the property, the State Party presents an extensive document of nearly 300 pages in length, in an English translation, of which the report on the conservation of the property is an annex. The plan preparation process is summarized in the State Party report and details of progress in relation to governance arrangements during 2008.
(iv) In relation to the designation of a management entity and provision of funding, the information provided in the report of the State Party mainly concerns 2008. The report indicates that the National Park of the Aeolian Islands, established in 2007 is regarded as the management body with primary responsibility for the World Heritage property, which is stated to be included fully within the national park boundaries. The report notes that this also ensures the availability of stable funding (stated to be at the level of 350,000 Euros at normal annual levels, and a higher amount during the establishment of the park). The management plan is also noted as providing a means to channel regional funds to the property, and notes 500,000 Euros was provided to the Sicilian region by the Foundation UNESCO Heritage of the Sicilian Region in December 2009 to increase awareness of Sicilian World Heritage.
(v) In relation to the request for a comprehensive impact assessment of the impact of proposed port enlargement at Lipari, including impacts on the property, the State Party notes that the project is “currently under evaluation”, although it appears likely that this statement relates to 2008-09. The report further notes that the port is not within either the inscribed property, its buffer zones or the National Park area, and notes the environmental constraints that are considered to exist in relation to such developments.
(vi) In relation to the proposal for vegetation and mining restoration projects, the State Party reports that a restoration project is being considered in conjunction with the removal of stockpiled pumice stone, under the leadership of the Municipality of Lipari and supported by the National Park and Sicilian Region. The State Party also refers to the establishment of an eco-museum to be supported by structural funds 2009-13, which will include provisions for communication about the values of the property.
(vii) In relation to the ratification of the redrawn boundaries of the proposed Lipari Reserve, the State Party report indicates this has been completed and that they will apply for a minor boundary modification.
(viii) In relation to the consideration of a regional park for the Aeolian Islands, the State Party indicates that this matter has been addressed through the establishment of the National Park for the Aeolian Islands.
(ix) In relation to the proposal to re-nominate the property to consider additional natural criteria and coastal habitats, the State Party indicates that this matter will be considered by the National Park, taking into account relevant expert advice.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the achievements indicated by the State Party, highlighted by progress towards the establishment of a National Park, and also the presentation of the Management Plan for the property. IUCN has clarified with the State Party the process of establishment of the National Park, which is considered to be well advanced through the establishment of the relevant legal instrument, the agreement of the relevant budgets and the necessary consultations that are currently underway. The State Party will provide additional information as the stages towards launching the park on an operational basis are achieved. It is likely that the full process of establishment will take upwards of a further year of work. IUCN has also reviewed the management plan submitted by the State Party, which appears to be a comprehensive basis for management of the World Heritage property. Detailed operational plans based on the management plan will clearly need to be established at a future stage of the project, and in conjunction with the establishment and inauguration of the governance and the operational management of the National Park on site.
The management plan appears to cover in a comprehensive way the range of natural and cultural values of the area, and thus could provide an appropriate basis for integrated management, should the State Party consider a re-nomination in line with the previous suggestions of the World Heritage Committee. IUCN also notes that there are continued discussions regarding port development in Lipari. Whilst these appear to be located outside the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that it will be important that any such developments are considered through a rigorous process of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which should include, inter alia, the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also consider that the quarrying issue that was a key source of concern in relation to the state of conservation of the property appears to have been comprehensively addressed, although the follow up actions to fully remediate the past impacts will take some time to complete. In summary, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that there is a good basis for assuring the future of this World Heritage property based on the actions undertaken and planned by the State Party. They look forward to the completion of the actions regarding conservation issues, and the finalisation and inauguration of the National Park for the Aeolian Islands as an effective managing agency for the property, in partnership with the other relevant stakeholders.