As requested by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the State Party submitted a report on 30 January 2007 with information on the plans for hydro-power and dam construction in the Nujiang, Lancang and Jinsha River Valleys, the boundaries of the serial property and proposed changes to these boundaries, and detailed information on impacts of ongoing and proposed mining operations within and near the World Heritage site. The report includes the following information:
a) Dam Construction
The State Party report outlines the procedures involved in the examination of hydroelectric power generation projects, including the requirement for detailed planning, comprehensive assessment for river basins and specific plans for their use. Specific plans for river basins include plans for hydroelectric power generation. China has established legal procedures for major construction projects, including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
In relation to dams within and near the property, the State Party notes:
(i) that there are no dam construction plans within the World Heritage property;
(ii) that the preparation of a comprehensive plan for river basins and specific plans for hydroelectric power generation in the middle reaches of Nu River and Lancang River (including some areas adjacent to the property) are currently underway and no dams so far have been approved by the central government; and
(iii) that the relevant State agency did not approve any dam project near the World Heritage property at the middle reaches of the Jinsha River, for which the comprehensive plan for the river basin has been approved.
The report concludes that at the end of 2006 no dam construction is planned adjacent to the property. The report also notes that the State Party will avoid any direct impact to the property from dam construction and that the issue of indirect effects, and how to prevent or reduce such effects, is currently under investigation.
IUCN and the World Heritage Centre note that plans for hydroelectric construction are currently underway including in some areas adjacent to the property and urge such plans to take into account the values and integrity of the World Heritage property and the need to avoid any direct and indirect impacts. IUCN further notes that indirect impact of dam construction can be significant and can include migration of people, road construction and a range of associated impacts, and urges that all indirect impacts be clearly identified, and measures taken to ensure that any impact on the property is avoided.
IUCN and the World Heritage Centre take note of the information provided by the State Party that the final decision on any hydroelectric plan development will not be made until the EIA of the comprehensive plan for river basin and specific plan for hydroelectric power generation is finished, and request that these documents be submitted to the World Heritage Centre and IUCN when they are available. It is further urged that any EIA relevant to the World Heritage property should be made public and subject to an open and transparent review process, including full public consultation with all stakeholders, in particular the local community.
b) Boundary modifications
The State Party report provides details on laws governing the protection and management of the property, particularly in relation to Scenic Areas, Nature Reserves and the Regulations on Conservation of Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas. In addition, the legal procedures for boundary modifications of the World Heritage property are outlined in the report.
At the time of inscription, the need to modify the boundary of the property to include other important areas outside of the current reserve boundaries was noted. A number of specific proposals for boundary modifications were discussed with the UNESCO/IUCN Mission of April 2006. The report clarifies that the agencies in charge of scenic areas and nature reserves of Yunnan Province have only recently studied the boundaries of the property and have not yet submitted to the central government an official application report and plan on boundary modifications for review and approval. Options for boundary review and adjustment are currently under consideration but not yet approved by the central and local governments. The State Party notes that any boundary modifications will be communicated in advance to the World Heritage Centre.
IUCN reiterates its view that there is a need to consider additional areas that could be added to the property, particularly those of high conservation value, and that linkages between the different parts of the property should be established via biological corridors or other options for ecological connectivity. Any changes of boundaries should be presented for consideration by the Committee in line with paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines.
c) Mining activities within the property
The State Party report clarifies that mining is prohibited within scenic areas and nature reserves. Mineral resource developments in areas outside the reserves must go through EIA and be approved by law. The report notes that Chinese scientists have found some large to medium- sized mineral resources within and near the World Heritage property, and that since the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, the Central and local governments have not approved any mining operations within the property. However, it is noted that the property covers a vast area where local ethnic groups hold some land property rights and that there exist some small-scale illegal mining activities. The report affirms that these are currently being closed down.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN reiterate that mining within natural World Heritage properties is not compatible with their status, and urges that State Party to close-down all mining activities within the property, as soon as possible.