Since the time of this inscription of this property in 1994 there have threats to its integrity due to increased deforestation in the region surrounding the property and potential threats associated to the construction of a proposed road through Los Katios and El Darien National Parks. There were also reported impacts on wetlands within the property from forest fires linked to the reconversion of lands outside the property as well as reported impacts to the Park’s integrity from armed conflicts. However verification of the impacts of these threats was not possible on-site as the monitoring mission proposed to the property in the year 2000 could not be implemented for security problems. At the end of 2008, the State Party consulted the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on the procedure for requesting inclusion of Los Katios National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. This property is facing a number of challenges and threats which require to be dealt at the national level but that also need international attention and support. Further to this consultation, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report on this property which notes the following issues as of key concern:
a) Illegal extraction of timber
This is the most pressing problem occurring both inside and in the surroundings of the property and Its solution requires the involvement of a number of other institutions and is therefore beyond the sole institutional responsibility of the Parks Authority. Addressing this major threat requires inter-institutional cooperation to support and enhance the on-going efforts of the Parks Authority in community awareness and co-management and increasing patrolling activities.
b) Impacts from the resettlement within the property of the Wounaan Indigenous Peoples community
This community used to live within the area that was declared as National Park but was relocated outside of it. However in 2004, the Wounaan returned and settled again within the park boundaries. The area of settlement is reported to be reducing the ecological connectivity within the park and impacting negatively on its values due to agricultural, hunting and fisheries activities.
c) Fishing and hunting
Overfishing including through illegal techniques such as the use of poisonous substances, is affecting wetlands within the park and its periphery. Illegal hunting is also reported to be affecting the populations of key species within the park.
d) Reduction of natural habitats
Reduction of natural habitats by their conversion to shifting agriculture and cattle raising is taking place at an increasing rate. These practices are also associated to intentional forest fires that are result in significant impacts on the extent and quality of natural forests within the property.
Pollution to the wetlands and water bodies is reported as occurring within the park from solid waste and waste waters from settlements.
f) Potential impacts from planned mega-projects
It is reported that due to the location of the property mid-way from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, its territory has been included in a number of planned large infrastructural projects such as:
- The Pan-American Highway which could increase fragmentation of existing ecosystems, as some of the options under discussion are proposed to cross the property, and also increase pressures on the use of the property’s resources, as it will be better linked to existing towns and settlements;
- Inter-Oceanic canal Atrato-Truandó which reported as potentially affecting important centres of endemism and concentrations of wildlife, a number of them within the property;
- Inter-Oceanic Railway which could potentially have similar impacts to those foreseen for the Inter-Oceanic Canal as some of the proposed options for its route could cross the property;
- Electric powerline proposals between Colombia and Panama which will promote new economic activities in the region thus increasing the pressures on the park’s surroundings associated to the development of new settlements and associated supporting infrastructure;
- Hydroelectric Power Project of Tilupo. This is a large project promoted by the Colombian Institute for Electric Energy that could affect and disrupt the hydrological regime essential for maintaining key ecosystems within the park.
As noted above, the Parks Authority of Colombia is implementing a number of targeted management activities to address the existing and potential challenges. However, the report considers that these will not be sufficient if inter-institutional cooperation at national and regional levels is not in place for the protection and management of the property.
The State Party has formally confirmed a request for the property to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger by letter to the World Heritage Centre dated 29 January 2009, and also requested a mission to the property. The expected results of this are noted as:
- International recognition of the problem of the illegal timber trade affecting the property, and its international nature;
- Mobilisation of international assistance and in particular financial assistance from the international community, including international and multilateral donors;
- Frequent follow up with the support of UNESCO and its contributing institutions.
Based on the report of the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the property meets the requirements for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger as set out in the Operational Guidelines, and note that this has been requested by the State Party. A mission is required to evaluate the threats to the property, and to develop the required corrective measures and timeframe for their implementation, the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value to be approved by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.