1.         Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal) (N 120)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (vii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 232,097
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

December 2002: IUCN monitoring mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Pressure and degradation from increasing tourism and mountaineering;

b) Airstrip development;

c) Climate change;

d) Development of tourism resort in core area.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

The World Heritage Committee requested this report in response to growing concerns related to tourism development within the property, and associated impacts on the property’s natural resources. The State Party did not submit a state of conservation report, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007). The Committee had requested the State Party to report on 1) the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court of Nepal in relation to the Kongde View Resort; 2) the impact of any development on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property; and 3) consultation with stakeholders on mitigation measures before any development operations begin.

High visitation is leading to pressures on natural resources which threaten the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property. In its 2008 National Report on the Implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the State Party noted ‘that garbage and sewage left by visitors is difficult to dispose of and such pollution pressures represent a potential threat, as does overgrazing and deforestation caused by mountaineering expeditions seeking firewood.’ The large and growing numbers of visitors support a growing tourism industry and migrant worker population which require energy sourced traditionally by fuel wood. IUCN has also received reports of crowding at lodges and key bridges leading to queues and sometimes the need for trekkers to return to their last stop. There is a need for the State Party to investigate and report on means to control tourism and visitor numbers during peak periods to ensure that the integrity of the property is maintained; in particular, regarding the implementation of the Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Project and the 2006-2011 Sagarmatha National Park Management and Tourism Plan.

While micro-hydro power installations are replacing fuel wood for some purposes, there is still a need to enforce control of firewood collection, and to ensure that re-growth is in balance with harvested amounts. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN encourage the State Party to implement a scientifically based monitoring programme for the firewood collection system in consultation with the local communities, and the Sherpa population in particular, and tourism industry.

The World Heritage Centre has received information from the UNESCO Kathmandu office about the Kongde hotel-resort. It appears that part of structure has already been built and, while construction has been stopped as a result of the issue being brought to the Supreme Court of Nepal, the hotel is operational. There is no update from the State Party on the outcome of the court case. IUCN has also received first hand reports that the Kongde View Resort has been constructed and is operational and work has commenced to establish a trail from near Thame across of the north face of Kongde to the resort. This trail and the main access trail from the Dudh Koshi to the resort pass through a core wildlife habitat area. It is understood, however, that tourism access to the resort is primarily by helicopter. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider detailed assessment and monitoring is required in relation to the potential impact of tourism pressures on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property. An assessment of the impacts of the number of visitors, and activities such as helicopter flights should be included in such an assessment.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recognise that the threats facing the property have largely been incorporated in the 2006-2011 Sagarmatha National Park Management and Tourism Plan. However, IUCN has received reports that the strategies in the management plan have not been fully implemented and that the management presence within the property is limited. It would be important for the State Party to ensure sufficient staffing and resources to conduct and support patrolling, visitor services, education and awareness-raising, and boundary inspections.

The current management plan of the property recognises the importance of the property for cultural and spiritual values. Community groups and NGOs are involved in ensuring community participation in the management of the property. Reports from some of these organisations recommend more equitable distribution of tourism profits through a community-based approach to tourism; and the restoration and sustainable use of forest and other natural resources, use of local materials, and development of code of conduct for hotels and lodges and tourists. IUCN also notes that a management and tourism strategy includes ‘managing mining of rock, sand, and turf,’ and requests the State Party to clarify the extent and location of these activities. IUCN notes that mining is incompatible with maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of a World Heritage property.

Threats from Glacial Lakes Outbursts are recognised by the State Party and local communities, however, little preparedness is in place. The EU/UNDP 2008 report on ‘Regional Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) Risk Reduction Initiative in the Himalayas: Preparatory Assessment Report Nepal’ notes a number of immediate needs where urgent action is required including 1) engaging and convincing local residents of the need for disaster preparedness (…) related to tourism, and 2) developing a Disaster Risk management plan. Few households in the Imja and Dudh Koshi river valleys have taken any action to prepare and reduce risks.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note that the property was included in the petition submitted to the World Heritage Centre by the NGOs Earth Justice and the Australian Climate Justice Program, on 29 January 2009, entitled “The Role of Black Carbon in Endangering World Heritage Sites Threatened by Glacial Melt and Sea Level Rise”. The petition ‘calls on the World Heritage Committee to take action to protect the Outstanding Universal Values of World Heritage Sites most vulnerable to global warming.’ In particular, this petition highlights properties protecting glaciers including Sagarmatha National Park. The World Heritage Centre has passed a copy of the 2009 Earth Justice and Australian Climate Justice Program Black Carbon petition to all States Parties whose properties were mentioned within it for comment.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN encourage the State Party to implement adaptive management measures to optimise the ability of the ecosystem and resident wildlife to adapt to changing conditions. Resilience should be maintained by ensuring ecosystem connectivity and genetic diversity and reducing threats and pressures that could increase vulnerability to these rapid changes. Pressures that can reduce the ability for ecosystems to adapt include pollution and habitat fragmentation. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.17

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.19, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session;

4. Reiterates its request to the State Party to provide information on the Kongde View Resort and the Supreme Court decision, and any other developments within the property and to carry out consultation with stakeholders on mitigation measures before any development operations begin, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006);

5. Requests the State Party to strengthen the implementation of its strategies to achieve the objectives of the property's management and tourism plan, and prioritise the following:

a) Protecting endangered species and habitats,

b) Clarifying the extent and location of mining of rock, sand, and turf,

c) Reducing pressure on forest and rangelands from wood gathering,

d) Controlling environmental pollution,

e) Monitoring the state of conservation of the property;

6. Invites the State Party to exchange experiences with other States Parties and experts, including experts of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), working on mountain World Heritage conservation and climate change, to explore appropriate and practical adaptation and mitigation strategies to maintain the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in the long term;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2010 a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property including progress on the issues outlined above, in particular on the measures that will be taken to maintain the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in the face of climate change and growing tourism pressure, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.