State of Conservation (SOC)
Keoladeo National Park (2012)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
Total amount provided to the property: USD 80,000 (Enhancing Our Heritage project on management effectiveness assessment). The property has benefited from the UNF funded World Heritage India programme from 2008 (enhance management effectiveness and build staff capacity; increase the involvement of local communities in the management of the property and promote their sustainable development; and raise awareness through communications and advocacy).
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
March 2005: World Heritage Centre site visit; March 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission.
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
a) Inadequate water supply and competition for water with neighbouring communities;
b) Poor water (quality and quantity) management;
c) Invasive species (Prosopis, Eichhornia, Paspalum)
Current conservation issues
A report on the state of conservation of the property was received from the State Party on 27 January 2012. The report responds to issues raised by the Committee in decision 35 COM 7B.14 and provides additional information on conservation actions undertaken at the property. Several press articles reporting on the inflow of water to the property are annexed to the report. Copies of the Management Plan for Keoladeo National Park 2010 - 2014 are also annexed to the report.
a) Issues related to adequate water supply
The State Party reports on three measures to provide adequate water flows to the property which are necessary to sustain Keoladeo’s wetland values. These include the release of 15 million cubic feet (mcft) of water from the Ajan Bandh reservoir in September 201.1 which the State Party reports as having stimulated a successful heron nesting season with 538 pairs from 12 species of herons.
In addition the State Party advises on the completion of the Dholpur – Bharatpur Drinking Water Project and the commencement of water flows to the property in October 2011. Water is being released to the property at the rate of 4 mcft per day and as of January 2012 250 mcft has replenished the property’s wetland systems. The State Party reports that water monitoring from the Chambal river shows an “adequate supply of fishes and crustaceans” to provide forage for the property’s bird populations. The report notes that the marshes of the property and associated birdlife have responded positively to the water replenishment. Furthermore, it is noted that enhanced water flows have re-catalysed the local tourism industry.
The State Party notes that the Govardhan Drain project which is expected to provide 350 mcft of water to the property is still under construction with a revised completion date expected in March 2012. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the 2011 State Party report had indicated that construction began in April 2011 and would take six months to complete.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN emphasize the importance of consistent and sustainable water replenishment as a foundation for the natural seasonal ecological functioning of the property’s wetland systems. Equally, it is emphasized that water quality is as important as quantity for the functioning of the wetlands. The ecosystem health of the property also underpins tourism and local livelihoods. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall the recommendations of the 2008 Mission that environmental water flows of 550 mcft per annum are considered a minimum to sustain the property’s wetland values. The completion of the Govardhan Drain project, and the 350 mcft which it will provide, should therefore be expedited as soon as possible to augment the improved water flows which have been re-established to date. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the State Party does not provide information on the release of water from Panchana Dam, as urged by the Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011). They consider that the release of water from Panchana Dam should remain an option to top-up the water supply to the property, particularly when the supply of water from the Dholpur-Bharatpur Drinking Water Project is reduced after four years, as planned. The wetland systems should not be placed under abnormal duress through a water regime of critical dryness and extremes of wetness.
b) Ecological monitoring and Management Plan
The State Party reports the implementation of an ecological monitoring programme across a range of 8 indicators for selected birds, mammals, reptiles, vegetation and water levels. Thresholds have been set to ensure the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is maintained. The monitoring programme sits within the framework of the property’s Management Plan 2010-2014, a copy of which has been included in the State Party report.
The State Party also report on monitoring of a number of satellite wetlands which act as an essential part of the overall wetland ecosystem providing habitat to birdlife in the region. The monitoring programme was initiated under a UNESCO-IUCN project in 2005 and it is continuing under a follow up project through to 2014.
The State Party report details bird counts for 15 heron species from 1991 to 2011. These show fluctuations and a number of failed breeding seasons particularly from 1997 onwards which are attributed to a lack of water.
The existence of a science based Management Plan in operation for the property is a welcome confirmation. The implementation of ecological monitoring programmes for the property and surrounding satellite wetlands is also welcomed. Given the importance of the satellite wetlands for maintaining the values of the property it is critical that monitoring and management continues beyond the life of specific projects.
Furthermore the World Heritage Centre and IUCN appreciate the time-series data on heron bird counts. This data illustrates the serious decline in total heron numbers since 1997. Numbers of birds average 5,777 p.a. in the 6 years between 1991 and 1997, however, only 850 p.a. in the 15 years since then, a decline of over 85%. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the dramatic decline in bird populations demonstrates that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property has been seriously compromised. They emphasize that it is imperative that water flows are restored and maintained at adequate levels, and they consider that the continued implementation of the ecological monitoring programme should demonstrate the clear and sustained recovery of bird populations in the property by 2014.
c) Other conservation issues – inappropriate developments near the park boundary and participatory management
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have also received reports on threats from inappropriate residential and industrial development close to the park boundary and the need to further strengthen participatory management. In response to these reports, the World Heritage Centre requested further information from the State Party, which was received on 11 March 2012. The State Party notes that a 500 meters eco-sensitive area is defined around the property, which cannot be widened due to the proximity of Bharatpur town. The State Party also notes that no illegal conversion of agricultural land to other uses has so far taken place, nor are any factory developments proposed within the eco-sensitive zone.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that at the Committee’s 35th session, the State Party had noted that in addition to removal of Prosopis, local communities were involved in prevention of offences, education, and grassland management. They consider that the participatory approach to management of the property should be continued and further intensified.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the progress achieved in restoring the water supply to the property’s wetland systems. However, more water is needed to sustain the system along with a commitment, wherever possible, of ongoing water allocations even during times of general water shortage, including through release from the Panchana Dam. Adequate and sustained water allocations estimated at 550 mcft will be necessary to ensure the recovery of the bird populations which are central to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Systematic monitoring of the bird numbers and other environmental indicators will be vital to monitor long term recovery. The completion of the delayed Govardhan Drain project is essential to augment water flows to levels which can sustain the ecology of the wetlands in the longer term. As this project is anticipated to be completed in March 2012, the Committee may wish to request confirmation of completion at its 36th session.
Link to the decision
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.14, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),
- Welcomes the efforts and the progress made by the State Party to replenish the water regime within the property’s wetland systems through the decisions to release environmental water flows from reservoirs and completed water related projects and urges the State Party to continue to provide adequate water flows on a sustainable basis;
- Regrets the delays in completion of the Govardhan Drain project and reiterates its request to the State Party to expedite completion of this project and initiate the planned water flows from this project to the property;
- Encourages the State Party to continue ecological monitoring programmes, which are independent of specific projects, in order to assess long-term ecosystem changes and particularly the recovery of bird populations;
- Also urges the State Party to further intensify the involvement of local communities in the management of the property, building on its existing achievements, including in the control of invasive species and other aspects of management, as appropriate;
- Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property including confirmation of the completion of the Govardhan Drain, the progress made in providing adequate water flows to the property, updated statistics on bird populations and the management of the threats of alien invasive species and development on the edge of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.
Link to the decision
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E,
2. Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;
3. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:
- Australia: Great Barrier Reef; Lord Howe Island Group; Gondwana Rainforests of Australia; Wet Tropics of Queensland; Fraser Island; Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte); Heard and McDonald Islands; Macquarie Island; Purnululu National Park;
- Bangladesh: Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat;
- Cambodia: Angkor;
- China: Mount Taishan; The Great Wall; Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang; Mogao Caves; Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian; Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area; Temple and Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu; Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains; Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa; Lushan National Park; Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area; Old Town of Lijiang; Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing; Mount Wuyi; Dazu Rock Carvings; Mount Qincheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System; Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom; Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries – Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains;
- Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea: Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve;
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Complex of Koguryo Tombs;
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: Virunga National Park; Garamba National Park; Kahuzi-Biega National Park; Salonga National Park;
- Egypt: Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley);
- Estonia: Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn;
- Ethiopia: Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela; Lower Valley of the Awash; Lower Valley of the Omo; Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town;
- Gambia: Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites;
- Gambia and Senegal: Stone Circles of Senegambia;
- Ghana: Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions; Asante Traditional Buildings;
- India: Taj Mahal; Keoladeo National Park; Sundarbans National Park; Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks;
- Indonesia: Borobudur Temple Compounds; Prambanan Temple Compounds;
- Islamic Republic of Iran: Bam and its Cultural Landscape;
- Kazakhstan: Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi; Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly;
- Madagascar: Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve; Royal Hill of Ambohimanga;
- Malaysia: Gunung Mulu National Park;
- Mali: Timbuktu; Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons); Tomb of Askia;
- Mongolia: Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape;
- Nepal: Sagarmatha National Park; Kathmandu Valley; Chitwan National Park; Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha;
- New Zealand: Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand; New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands;
- Nigeria: Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove;
- Pakistan: Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro;
- Philippines: Baroque Churches of the Philippines; Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park;
- Republic of Korea: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple; Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Pangeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks; Jongmyo Shrine; Changdeokgung Palace Complex; Hwaseong Fortress; Gyeongju Historic Areas; Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites;
- Solomon Islands: East Rennell;
- Thailand: Historic City of Ayutthaya;
- Turkmenistan: State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”; Kunya-Urgench;
- United Republic of Tanzania: Serengeti National Park; Kondoa Rock-Art Sites;
- Uzbekistan: Historic Centre of Bukhara; Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz; Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures;
- Viet Nam: Ha Long Bay; My Son Sanctuary; Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park;
- Zambia and Zimbabwe: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls;
- Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe National Monument; Khami Ruins National Monument; Matobo Hills;
4. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;
5. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:
- World Heritage properties in the Arab States;
- World Heritage properties in Africa;
- World Heritage properties in Asia and the Pacific;
- World Heritage properties in Latin America and the Caribbean;
- World Heritage properties in Europe and North America.
Draft Decision: 36 COM 7B.11
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,
2. Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.14, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),
3. Welcomes the efforts and the progress made by the State Party to replenish the water regime within the property’s wetland systems through the decisions to release environmental water flows from reservoirs and completed water related projects and urges the State Party to continue to provide adequate water flows on a sustainable basis;
4. Regrets the delays in completion of the Govardhan Drain project and reiterates its request to the State Party to expedite completion of this project and initiate the planned water flows from this project to the property;
5. Encourages the State Party to continue ecological monitoring programmes, which are independent of specific projects, in order to assess long-term ecosystem changes and particularly the recovery of bird populations;
6. Also urges the State Party to further intensify the involvement of local communities in the management of the property, building on its existing achievements, including in the control of invasive species and other aspects of management, as appropriate;
7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property including confirmation of the completion of the Govardhan Drain, the progress made in providing adequate water flows to the property, updated statistics on bird populations and the management of the threats of alien invasive species and development on the edge of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.
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The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).