At its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), the World Heritage Committee requested information on progress on two main issues, namely the updating of the management plan and the illegal construction at the Ksamili villages in addition to drawing the attention of the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2007 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM joint reactive monitoring mission.
On 1 February 2009 the World Heritage Centre received from the State Party a detailed implementation report on the above issues.
a) Comprehensive management plan for Butrint and its surroundings
An environmental management plan, which has been financed by the World Bank will be completed at the end of June 2009, and this will be integrated with the existing 2007-2012 management plan to create a new document that will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review. This will cover archaeology, history, environment and tourism;
b) Illegal constructions and development in the surrounding areas of Butrint
This remains an issue in the Ksamili area, where the park and all the respective state institutions continuously monitor the situation. It is confirmed that during February-March 2009, illegal construction will be demolished close to zone A, which influence the image and integrity of the World Heritage property. These actions will also include interventions near the Diaporit site. Other work has been stopped by park staff and the respective ministry through notifying the respective authorities.
Furthermore, the report provides details on the implementation of the recommendations of the joint 2007 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission as follows:
c) Prepare an archaeological map of Butrint and its surroundings
This has not so far been achieved but the management plan will provide maps which can be used by the park authority to create a map of the archaeological remains, as requested;
d) Assign one agency with management authority
This has not been achieved;
e) Authority of the office of the manager along with adequate human and financial resources
Starting 1 July 2009, an expert in site planning issues will start work for a two year long period to enable the park to implement the site management plan;
f) Collaborate with the World Bank in reviving the “Albanian Costal Zone management plan”
Full cooperation of the park authorities with the World Bank Coastal Zone management plan is said to be in place.
g) Ensure that the heritage values, including World Heritage values of Butrint are fully considered in regional and local planning, and that the environment and cultural impact studies are undertaken when appropriate
It is stated that all development will respect the criteria established by the World Bank Coastal Zone study, and local communes will be cooperating with the park authority in all processes of such planning. However, it is not clear how this will be achieved;
h) Review World Heritage values of the site of Butrint, and prepare a Statement of significance
It is stated that the management plan will include a Statement of significance. It is further stated that this will be used to ‘initiate the procedures for the criteria under which the Butrint site should be inscribed, including the natural values’. There thus seems to be a misunderstanding of the rationale for the statement;
i) Boundaries of the World Heritage area and a surrounding buffer zone
A special TV programme organised by the park and local media has informed local residents about the boundaries of the property and its values. No formal review of the boundaries appears to have been undertaken;
j) Studies for the preservation and presentation of the structure and the mosaics of the baptistery
A conservation plan for the whole property has been completed by park staff and foreign specialists. Its implementation has started for specific monuments. In relation to the monuments that have a high water table, such as the baptistery, it is said that there is no common agreement on the best solution amongst specialists. An ongoing study of the conservation status of monuments has been commissioned by the Butrint Foundation;
k) Establish a provisional museum
The museum was transferred to the park authorities on 31 October 2008. The park will need to reform its structure to accommodate a permanent post at the museum;
l) Establish and compile a site archive of scientific reports, documentation, photographs etc.
No progress has been made in compiling a site archive of scientific reports, documentations, photographs etc. but future reports will be deposited with the Park;
m) Improve site protection by repairing and extending the protective fence around the property
No details have been provided on the repair of the protective fence
n) Ensure proper surveillance by police assigned to the site
The Park rangers are now part of a private security company and they are equipped with appropriate tools and equipments.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that progress has been made in implementing the recommendations of the 2007 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission. Considering the nature of the property which has a very large geographical area, its link to the RAMSAR site and the costal area, it is a sensible move to integrate the management plan with the larger environment management plan which is being prepared with the help of the World Bank. This point was highlighted by previous missions as well.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are of the view that the issue of Illegal construction raised by the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission seem to have not been addressed sufficiently. The mission particularly reported that the situation of Ksamil village was ‘alarming’ in April 2007 and requested the authorities to work closely wit planning agencies to adopt systematic approach to the development of the village with a view to avoid any impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The results reported after nearly two years on this issue are not satisfactory.
Attention of the State Party is also drawn to the full implementation of the mission recommendations.