From 11 to 15 January 2010 a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission visited the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville 2009). The mission report is available online at the following web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/34COM .
A report on the state of conservation of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra dated 1 February 2010 was submitted by the State Party after the mission. The report addressed the issues outlined in Decision 33 COM 7B.116 (Seville, 2009. The annexes comprise a total of 483 pages and include restoration projects, Municipal Plans, works executed under the Management Plan for 2005-2009 including fire protection, and actions planned for 2010-2012, continuing the strategic direction set out in the Management Plan.
a) Urban encroachment and visitation pressure
The State Party claims that there was no reason to identify urban encroachment on the property and its buffer zone as a risk. In support the authorities referred to a survey showing that 90% of urban licences granted in the municipality were for rehabilitation of buildings in the core zone.
The mission found that although urban rehabilitation is slow, it is satisfactorily controlled in terms of quality by the permit system of the municipality.
With regard to visitation pressure, the State Party maintains that while there has been growing tourist demand, this has been countered by careful tourism management including the promotion of new centres of interest, new circuits and thematic tours and better distribution of visitors. In support, a favourable comparison of visitor numbers between those for the Palace of Pena (the most visited component of the property) and other components of the World Heritage site is made. For example a table (Annex 1, p.76) shows the number of visitors in an average month in 2009 as 49,104 to Pena Palace.
The mission found that there is an impressive range of events and activities designed to attract tourists. It was concerned about a funded proposal to create a new garden between the Park of Pena and the Chalet of the Countess of Edla as a means of attracting visitors to a less-visited area. The mission suggested instead that the funds could be used to rehabilitate existing redundant buildings to accommodate a school for gardeners, or perhaps a museum about the water systems of the Sintra hills. However, the new garden project is still retained in Annex 3 to the State Party’s report, covering actions planned by Parques de Sintra – Monte da Lua (PSML) for 2010 – 2012.
b) Lack of co-ordination between all relevant stakeholders responsible for the management of the property and its buffer zone
The State Party reports that the management company PSML was confirmed in 2007 by the two Ministries (Environment and Culture) in charge as the responsible authority for the property. The Palace of Pena and the management of the Hotel of Seteais have both now been entrusted to PSML, meaning that the Park and Palace of Pena are now under the same administration.
The mission noted that the municipality and PSML need to recognise the importance of motivating the local communities in the processes of managing the property.
c) Establishment of a Steering Committee
The State Party reports that under the 2009 designation of PSML as the executive organ of the World Heritage site consultation is required in relation to the legally binding Plan for the Park administered under the Ministry of Environment and in relation to the Heritage Law administered by the Ministry of Culture. A Scientific Council of specialists in natural and cultural heritage has been set up by PSML to advise on projects and strategies in collaboration with external bodies such as universities. The authorities see this as consolidating the capacity of PSML to co-ordinate the various entities, concluding that “it only requires an efficient process for mutual consultation”.
The mission recommended that in addition, a committee of owners and community associations who are stakeholders in the property should be formed and regularly consulted on proposed projects and progress generally, in order to receive their views and suggestions.
d) Setting up a comprehensive Management Plan
The State Party advises that it has set a timeframe to produce a management plan involving all stakeholders and including objectives and actions scheduled for 2010-2014. The PSML proposes to present the Management and Interpretation Plans by the end of December 2010.
The mission found that the progress on dealing with the problems that had detrimentally affected the property is commendable, and largely due to the implementation of the first stage of the Management Plan 2005-2009. In the mission’s opinion, ongoing retention of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property depends on the proper arrangement of the next stage of the management plan to 2012, and the review of the boundaries of the buffer zone and transition zone.
The management plan should relate directly to the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and should include a plan of action for future restoration and conservation of the parks and gardens, based on a study of the history and evolution of the parks and plants.
The PSML proposes a review of the boundaries of the buffer zone, which surrounds the property, and the transition zone which in turn surrounds the buffer zone, because it finds the three zones do not correspond to the needs of conservation and interpretation of the outstanding universal value of the site.
The mission considers that deletion of the transition zone must be accompanied by an extension of the buffer zone to the north of the inscribed area.
e) Draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value
Following the discussion with the members of the reactive monitoring mission of 11-15 January 2010, the State Party proposed to submit the Draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value separately before the end of February 2010. At the time of drafting this report it had not been received.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the State Party has addressed many of the problems identified in 2006 as adversely affecting the property. The implementation of the management plan 2005-2009 has engendered gradual improvement in institutional management arrangements, the conservation of buildings, fire protection measures and control of urban development, thereby enabling some economic benefit to the community. There remain important areas for improvement including the institutional management system, which requires greater recognition of the role of owners and community associations in the management of the property; the management of parks and gardens, which perhaps requires resourcing from a specialist conservation school similar to that operating for buildings and monuments, and better background research and evidence; review of the buffer and transition zones, and integration of the proposed actions for 2010-2014 into a Comprehensive Management Plan which is specifically related to the attributes identified in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value. Since the Cultural Landscape of Sintra was inscribed as a cultural landscape for its Outstanding Universal Value as a pioneering approach to romantic landscaping which had an outstanding influence on developments elsewhere in Europe, these attributes must include an understanding of the shape and form of the overall landscape and views and vistas within the property.