The World Heritage Centre received the annual conservation report from the State Party in January 2007, which details actions carried out and progress made on the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius,2006). These range from the continuous work to control the rising water table levels at the property to the clearing of vegetation that has grown as a result of increased humidity. It describes excavations, conservation and restoration interventions to open new areas for the public at the Velarde Palace, and actions for the management of the site, including the creation of a new implementation unit and addressing security concerns and illegal occupations.
A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission, carried out in February 2007, observed a variety of decay phenomena and processes caused by both from natural and cultural factors that could threaten the outstanding universal value, authenticity and integrity of the property. As was noted at the time of inscription, the earthen architecture of the site is extremely fragile and systematic and continuous maintenance is needed to comprehensively address these conditions.
The state of conservation varies in the different sectors; there is more impact in areas adjacent to communities, leading to garbage dumps, destruction of remains for illegal activities, etc. This is also because the prehispanic remains are not palaces or ceremonial complexes, but rather what has been called intermediate architecture. In the nuclear area, decay phenomena are the result of climatic conditions but also of the lack of continuity in conservation and maintenance interventions. Priorities should be set up and criteria for interventions need to be adhered to, as prescribed, in accordance to the significance of the site and respectful of international principles.
Archaeological excavations should be further limited to respond firstly to conservation concerns, and subsequently to the prioritized course of action prescribed in the management plan, where a holistic approach has been defined for the excavation, conservation and presentation of sectors according to the availability of resources, both technical and financial.
Although significant work has been carried out to mitigate the rise of water table levels, research is still needed to understand the hydrology in the site and systems associated with its behaviour, so that a more proactive, rather than reactive, approach is implemented in the future. Farmers are using fields that are land extensions, a practice that brings a variety of problems to the stability of the archaeological remains. Among them, the constant moisture generated by irrigation that affects all archaeological remains that are under and above the surface. Irrigation also brings the need for channels and ducts, and the majority of those are simply cut through the prehistoric adobe walls, destroying other archaeological remains.
Paradoxically, water from a recent irrigation project (Chavi Mochic) created for the benefit of areas of Chan Chan, is promoting the use of the protected area by local people with adverse effects for site conservation. The rise of the water table is suspected to be a result of the Chavi Mochic water project, although technicians from that agency argue different causes and have offered to carry out a technical study on the water behaviour to determine the real source of phreatic level variations. Dumping large amounts of garbage inside the protected area is a common practice by local people; In summary, it is evident that the problematic of destruction of this Protection Area, clearly pointed out in the Master Plan (2000) has not significantly changed and the recent Chavi Mochic water project has had an adverse impact on the site. A control system is urgent, as well as coordinated actions for regional development initiatives.
An important threat to the site continues to be major development projects, or proposals, including the construction of a new site museum. Urban expansion continues towards the property and new constructions are located very close to its boundaries. New infrastructure such as an animal food plant, which impacts the integrity of the landscape and generates pollution, might affect the site. New construction permits and other uses in the buffer zone are to be urgently regulated and collaboration with the concerned municipalities should be a priority for the new management unit created.
The mission also stressed the problems caused by the variety of roads surrounding the site. There are at least ten ways to connect areas of the site, the principal being the Trujillo-Huanchaco highway that cuts the site in two. This situation encourages local people to settle along those roads. It would be important to select a minimal number of roads, and restrict the use of the others for public visits to the site (using them as visit routes). The construction of a highway bypass could solve the problem and help the property to recover its integrity.
A critical course of action is to strengthen institutional capacity for implementing the management plan. To date, there is no formal decision-making, professional team working full time at the site, there is lack of prioritization in implementing actions and some of these continue to be politically driven. Training and capacity development is critical for sustainable long-term implementation of the management plan, but also to disseminate the value of the invested efforts.
Although significant progress has been made, there are still many activities that need to be implemented in order to progressively contribute to mitigating decay problems, to raising awareness on the needs of the site and to enhance public and private collaboration in the conservation endeavours at the World Heritage property.