State of Conservation (SOC)
Sundarbans National Park
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
- Marine transport infrastructure
- Other Threats:
System of National Waterways proposed for the Sundarbans Reserve
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
International Assistance granted to the property until 2001
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Ap proved: 20,000USD
Contribution to the Preparation of a Project for Promoting ...
Reapproval: 12 Jun, 2003 (n°1573 - 20,000 USD)
Missions to the property until 2001**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001
Main issues: oil and gas exploration.
New information: IUCN has informed the Centre that the Government of Bangladesh has approved a plan for Shell to explore blocks of the Sunderbans for oil and gas. The block known as ‘Block 5’ contains the Sundarbans Reserved Forest, which includes the World Heritage site. 40% of this Block constitutes the Sundarbans Reserved Forest. IUCN Office in Bangladesh is maintaining contact with Shell who have advised that they intend to conduct aero-magnetic and seismic surveys in Block-5. Aero-magnetic surveys will involve low flights by specialized air-crafts. Activities related to seismic surveys will be conducted in areas outside of the Sundarbans World Heritage site. Shell has assured IUCN Bangladesh in letters of August and December 2000, that they do not plan to survey the Sundarbans World Heritage site and that all their activities will be conducted outside the Reserved Forest.
Following the declaration of the Sundarbans as a World Heritage site in 1999, the Bangladesh Government launched a six-year Sunderbans Biodiversity Conservation Project (SBCP) at a cost of US$ 77 million. The project, which began on April 1, 2000, will develop a system for the conservation of biodiversity in the Sunderbans Reserved Forest, including a marine zone of 20km off the coast. The project will also attempt to reduce pressures on the forests arising from local people, and will promote environmental awareness and support for the conservation of the Sunderbans Reserved Forest.
The Bureau requests the State Party to provide a report to the Centre, before 15 September 2001, on the activities of Shell in relation to oil and gas exploration and the potential impacts on the World Heritage site to enable the twenty-fifth extraordinary session of the Bureau to undertake a review of the state of conservation of the site. The Bureau commends the State Party for its ongoing work, in particular through the Sunderbans Biodiversity Action Project, to protect this site.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001
IUCN has informed the Centre that the "Project Tiger Status Report" for 2001, prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) of India, 2001, mentions that a system of National Waterways is proposed for the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. The report observes that: "the proposed national waterways, if declared, through the mangrove forests of Sundarbans, particularly through the portion of the Tiger Reserve, will affect the ecosystem adversely by large-scale human activities, dredging of streams and oil spills of numerous water crafts and vessels carrying cargo".
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
Reports on SOC of natural properties inscribed noted by the Committee
Reports on the state of conservation of natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List noted by the Committee
Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
Fraser Island (Australia)
The Sundarbans (Bangladesh)
Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)
Gros Morne National Park (Canada)
Nahanni National Park (Canada)
Los Katios National Park (Colombia)
Caves of the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (Hungary/Slovakia)
The Committee noted that the issues raised concern only the Slovak part of this transboundary site.
Sundarbans National Park (India)
The Delegate of India informed the Committee that there is no National Waterways Project that is planned or likely to impact this site.
Kaziranga National Park (India)
Komodo National Park (Indonesia)
Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)
The Observer of Indonesia thanked the Australian authorities for their financial assistance. He informed the Committee that it would be difficult to comply with the deadline of 1 February and that a report could be provided by the end of March 2002.
Aeolian Islands (Italy)
The Observer of Italy confirmed that there was a court decision on 4 December 2001, which is not yet public, but that it is hoped to be available soon. She informed the Committee that the collaboration between the autonomous regional Government and the central Government has commenced and that a meeting will take place to find a solution.
Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania)
The Delegate of Egypt brought to the attention of the Committee the importance of protecting the wetlands, which are known to be important rest places for the migratory birds along their routes. He suggested that the World Heritage Centre should have a plan defining the wetlands, which are important for the birds and to use this information for establishing "satellite" World Heritage sites. IUCN informed of the co-operation between the World Heritage Centre and the Ramsar Convention as well as with Bird Life International for the protection of the wetlands. He also highlighted the importance of the surrounding areas to the World Heritage sites and the links with the Man and Biosphere programme for the protection of the sites. The Secretariat informed of the on-going discussions with the Secretariat of the Convention of Migratory Species to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between these two Conventions.
Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia)
Sian Ka'an (Mexico)
The Delegate of Mexico informed that the confirmation of the Ecological Land-Use Plan is in its final phase and consequently she asked that the deadline for the report requested by the Bureau be set for 15 May 2002 for examination at the twenty-sixth session of the Committee in June.
Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)
Western Caucasus (Russian Federation)
Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation)
Doñana National Park (Spain)
Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)
Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast (United Kingdom)
St Kilda (United Kingdom)
Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (United States of America)
Canaima National Park (Venezuela)
The Bureau may wish to adopt the following:
“The Bureau expresses its concern over the potential threat to the World Heritage property as identified by the “Project Tiger Status Report” for 2001, prepared by MOEF and requests that the State Party submit, before 1 February 2002 a detailed report on the proposed national waterways project and its potential impacts on the Sundarbans World Heritage site. The Bureau will review the information provided by the State Party at its twenty-sixth session in April 2002”.
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”).