World Heritage Centre World Heritage Centre - Committee Decisions 90 en Copyright 2020 UNESCO, World Heritage Centre Sun, 29 Nov 2020 01:17:49 EST UNESCO, World Heritage Centre - Decisions 25 BUR III.52 Report on the activities undertaken by the Secretariat since the twenty-fourth session of the Committee A meeting of a small Drafting Group to prepare the revision of the  Operational Guidelines will be held at UNESCO Headquarters from 8 to 12 October 2001 instead of 10-14 September 2001 as originally arranged.

On an exceptional basis, the Bureau decided to allocate the sum of US$30,000 from the World Heritage Fund in 2001 (Chapter III – International Assistance) for the organisation of the meeting of the Drafting Group.

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25 BUR V.122-125 Kaziranga National Park (India) V.122     The Bureau noted that IUCN informed the Centre that a severe shortage of funds is impeding the anti-poaching operations and affecting the management of Kaziranga National Park. It is estimated that more than 200 rhinos have been poached and 60 poachers have been killed in the Park in the last decade. More resources are needed to improve the protection of the Park. However, it has been reported that there have been problems with designated funding provided to the Regional Government actually reaching the Park. Consequently, few of the patrol vehicles are in running condition and boats have not been repaired for a long time.

V.123     It has also been reported that during the winter, the local people enter the Park for community fishing, which is sometimes associated with illegal activities, such as stealing rifles from forest guards and damaging river boats. Fishing inside the Kaziranga National Park has now been banned. The State Party has issued a prohibition order to ban fishing from the wetlands of the National Park and has stated that stern action will be initiated against any violation.  The Park presently has more than 1500 endangered one-horn rhinoceros, which are subject to poaching.

V.124     IUCN has also received reports of large herds of elephants going on the rampage in areas in and around Kaziranga National Park. In June 2000, elephants killed more than 15 people in the Golaghat District of Assam. Numaligarh is the location of a new oil refinery and according to experts this has been one of the major reasons for the increased intensity of animal/people conflicts. It has been estimated that rampaging elephants have killed at least 300 people in Assam, in the last three years. Assam Wildlife authorities have urged the Central Government to allow them to capture the wild elephants to minimise damage. IUCN was concerned that the wildlife/people conflict may result in resentment towards the National Park.

V.125     The Bureau requested that, in order to enable the twenty-fifth extraordinary session of the Bureau to review the information and suggest appropriate measures, the State Party submit to the Centre, before 15 September 2001, a report on the major management issues of the site, particularly those related to financing of anti-poaching operations and minimising conflicts between elephant herds and human habitations.

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25 BUR V.150-152 Gros Morne National Park (Canada) V.150     The Bureau was informed that on 9 May 2001 a fax was received from Parks Canada providing new information on a number of developments since November 2000, which was transmitted to IUCN for review.

V.151     The Delegate of Canada informed the Bureau that staff from Gros Morne continue to work directly with the forestry company and the provincial government to ensure that the ecological integrity and the World Heritage values of the national park are recognized, taken into account and maintained in the context of forest operations. Canada would be pleased to provide additional information about this issue prior to the next Committee session.

V.152     The Bureau commended the State Party for the efforts to enhance the protection of the site and particularly through the development of suitable solutions to address the effect of logging outside the World Heritage site on the aesthetic values that justified inscription of the site under criterion (iii).  The Bureau acknowledged the commitment by the logging company to the conservation of this site by deciding to cease clear cutting in the entire Main River watershed. The Bureau however requested the State Party to keep the Centre informed on progress towards ensuring that proposed alternative harvesting regimes take into full consideration any potential impacts to the ecological integrity of this site.

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25 BUR V.146-149 Pirin National Park (Bulgaria) V.146     The Bureau noted that IUCN reviewed the information from the Minister of Environment and Water (MOEW) of Bulgaria dated 20 October 2000 and that no further information had been provided by the State Party. IUCN noted that the ski developments of 1985/86 were in compliance with the then existing Nature Protection Act and occupy an area of 48 ha.  On 18 ha of this area, however, two ski runs and one chair lift do not function properly and there are consequent problems of overcrowding and traffic congestion on narrow roads.  The Territorial Development Plan (TDP) submitted to the MOEW in 1999 proposes five new ski runs totalling 30 ha, plus their facilities, car parks and a cable car joining the zone with the town of Bansko. The proposed new ski runs are all within the World Heritage site. The State Party reports that the local population supported the project while NGOs rejected it completely. Following a positive Evaluation Impact Assessment (EIA), a public hearing and an assessment by the Senior Environment Council to the MOEW, part of the TDP has been given approval.

V.147     IUCN has also received for review a letter from Bulgarian NGOs dated 14 February 2001 in response to the State Party letter. This letter notes that: The Bulgarian National Parks Act emphasises nature conservation before the provisions of developments for tourism and recreation; a national conference was held in January 2001 attended by 180 environmental NGOs.  Participants supported an appeal to the Ministry of Environment and Water, Bulgarian Prime Minister and the President to repeal the decision of allowing construction of new ski runs in the Park; no alternative solutions to the proposal have been considered; the EIA report notes that the forest to be clear-cut in the area of the planned ski zone is between 50 and 200 years old; the territorial management plan of the ski zone is in violation of a number of laws and Conventions, as well as the Park Management Plan; the plan to bring a further 1400 people to this area of the Park is contradictory to the principle of the management plan for the decentralisation of tourism; and conflict between the number of beds in the town and the capacity of the ski area is only an issue on weekends and holidays.

V.148     The BALKANI Wildlife Society recommended the promotion of soft tourism and the improvement of the capacity of existing ski facilities.

V.149     The Bureau commended the State Party for the efforts to protect the natural values of this site particularly through rehabilitation efforts and measures to alleviate current problems of overcrowding and traffic congestion.  However, the Bureau expressed concerns about a number of aspects of the proposals, and stressed the importance of a full EIA and public hearings. Particular attention should be given in the EIA to the location of any new ski runs and facilities as well as possible alternative solutions.  The Bureau requested the State Party to submit a detailed update on the proposal to develop five new ski runs by 15 September 2001 and to invite an IUCN/UNESCO mission to the site.

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25 BUR V.142-145 Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland) V.142     IUCN received reports in relation to the Bialowieza Forest, Poland, which state that the Government has abandoned its plans to enlarge the Park due to the lack of funds, and that funding for the existing Park remains at minimal levels.  There are also disturbing reports about a doubling of cutting rates in the commercially-managed part of the Forest outside the World Heritage site, and lobbying to cut areas of old growth forest.  While this information does not pertain to the part of the Forest designated as the World Heritage site, it can be expected that the integrity of the site may be affected should much of the surrounding Forest be cut.

V.143     While there are no plans to change the current status of Bialowieza Forest World Heritage site as a strictly protected area, IUCN and the World Heritage Bureau have urged the State Party to expedite the enlargement of the National Park to include the entire Polish side of the Bialowieza National Park. This option will be lost if the logging goes ahead.

V.144     The Centre informed the Bureau that a meeting with the site manager had taken place on 21 June 2001 which confirmed that logging was taking place only outside the World Heritage area.

V.145     The Bureau noted with concern the information regarding the cutting rates in the Forest outside the World Heritage area and requested the authorities to provide a report on these issues by 15 September 2001.

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25 BUR V.138-141 Canaima National Park (Venezuela) V.138     The Bureau noted a progress report received for the development of the Action Plan for Canaima National Park from the Venezuelan authorities in December 2000. The aim of the Action Plan is to promote dialogue between all the stakeholders of the National Park in order to create favourable collaboration for the protection of the Park. To this end, three workshops were held in 2000 for the Pemon Communities living within or near the National Park. The themes discussed included community participation, environmental education, ecotourism and protection of flora and fauna. More meetings with the local communities in different parts of the Park will be needed in order to get the full participation of the communities for guaranteeing the viability of the Action Plan.

V.139     IUCN has received a number of reports on the situation in the Canaima National Park. There is ongoing and increasing concern and opposition to the construction of a power-line, which cuts through a limited portion of the Park. Indigenous people from the Pemon Communities continue to oppose the power line due to the long-term consequences that the project will have on both the territories they occupy and their cultural integrity. They have been responsible for toppling over thirty power line towers. The National Guard now has a permanent presence in the Park in order to guarantee the continuation of the project.   Although the main objective of the power line is to sell electricity to the Brazilian city of Boa Vista, electricity is also required to exploit the mineral resources in the Venezuelan Guyana Shield area.  Apart from existing traditional mining operations, it is expected that the power line will fuel new mining developments in six important buffer zones adjacent to the World Heritage site. Several international mining corporations have started a programme of land acquisition and identification, including Crystallex International and Placer Dome. There are concerns about potential impacts associated with mining around the Canaima National Park.  On several occasions, indigenous people have reported an influx of small-scale miners heading towards the headwaters of the Caroni River inside the National Park. Although illegal, these violations have not been persecuted. Without due ecological consideration, the potential industrial development of the region adjacent to Canaima National Park and the advance of mining threaten to isolate the Park within a few years, thus putting in jeopardy its long-term integrity.

V.140     IUCN requested the State Party to provide detailed information on what has been implemented after the 1999 IUCN mission. The IUCN Representative also informed the Bureau that Canaima National Park is one of the sites included in the UNESCO/IUCN/UNF-UNFIP project on management effectiveness for World Heritage natural sites. This project may help to provide some possible solutions for the problems existing at the site. The IUCN Representative furthermore recommended that the proposed World Heritage Indigenous Peoples' Council of Experts (WHIPCOE) may consider inviting participants from this site to the Council.

V.141     The Bureau recalled the recommendations made by the 1999 IUCN mission report, in particular the urgent need to create mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders on the conservation and management of the area. This should include the indigenous Pemon Communities, mining interests, and relevant government agencies. This mission also recommended that an Action Plan be developed by the State Party as soon as possible to follow up recommendations of the mission. The Bureau urged the State Party to report on the implementation of these recommendations and requested the State Party for a report on this situation and possible impacts on the site by 15 September 2001.

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25 BUR V.130-137 Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) V.130     The Bureau was informed that on 16 January 2001, the Ecuadorian oil tanker Jessica ran aground at the entry to the port of Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. It was carrying 160,000 gallons of diesel oil and 80,000 gallons of bunker fuel. Most of the oil leaked into the sea covering an area of 3,000km2 reaching the shores of the Islands of Santa Fe, Santa Cruz, Floreana and Isabela. Species affected by the oil include sea lions, marine birds, sea turtles and iguanas. Given the quantity of fuel spilled, the immediate impacts could have been far worse, but the currents and winds carried most of the oil into deeper offshore waters where it was dispersed. Nevertheless, continuous monitoring is needed in order to determine the possible medium- and long-term impacts to the ecosystem, although the damage to date appears to be minimal. The accident, that has proved to be caused by negligence, triggered the preparation of work on a contingency plan for future emergencies and has led to efforts to improve the regulatory framework to minimise future hazards. Handling of the spill costs the Ecuador Government several million dollars, part of which was covered by external assistance.

V.131     The Jessica remains grounded, the Captain has been charged, and insurance compensation is being sought.  Suggestions have been made by WWF and others that the Ecuadorian Government should designate the Galapagos Marine Reserve as a “particularly sensitive sea area” (PSSA) under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).  The benefits of such an initiative are being studied by INGALA and the Ecuador Maritime authorities. IUCN noted similarities between this situation and that of the Great Barrier Reef. IUCN emphasised the importance of compulsory pilotage in environmentally sensitive areas such as World Heritage sites and also the importance of having effective emergency response strategies in place to enable prompt and effective action to issues such as the oil spill in Galapagos.

V.132     IUCN noted that the specific regulations under the Special Law, including fisheries, tourism, environmental control, and introduced species/agriculture, are still awaited and views this as a very high priority matter.  Drafts of the regulations are in an advanced stage and should be approved before July 2001. Without the regulations in place, progress has been limited in controlling immigration, limiting fishery seasons and catches, and preventing illegal commercial fishing.  Both the Navy and the marine unit of the GNP have intercepted a number of vessels and discouraged others, but prosecutions have been few and illegal fishing continues.  Even worse, the Navy has allowed the release of several seized vessels which has implicated them in the illegal fishing business and reduced the Government’s credibility in enforcing the law.  This was further weakened during the fishermen's strike of November 2000 where intimidation of Park staff and violent action led to the Government backing down on quota limits.

V.133     Annual monitoring reports on the illegal commercial fisheries in the Marine Reserve show that many thousands of sharks have been taken out of Galapagos waters and that long-lining for other finfish has had severe effects on many other species.  Moreover, the loosely regulated controls on sea cucumber harvesting have led to a precipitous decline in the population, which may never recover to sustainable levels.  Despite areas of progress, the lack of sufficient enforcement has led to a continued over-fishing which is a major threat to the Galapagos marine environment.

V.134     On the positive side, the Bureau noted two key actions are expected that will set a much firmer basis for addressing the issues.  First, is the passage of the regulations that will clearly specify what limits are on fisheries, immigration, etc., and will allow more effective application of the Special Law.  Second, is the IDB loan for implementing the Galapagos Marine Reserve Plan that devotes US$4 million to strengthening the control and security system.  There is also a growing public feeling within Ecuador to address illegal fishing activities more firmly, which, with the added resources and resolve of the State Party, could lead to a reduction in further damage.  Commitment at the central political level, however, is a fundamental prerequisite.  Any revisions to the Special Law that would weaken it would be very detrimental to the participatory process that agreed to it.

V.135     The Bureau was informed of details about the international assistance received from private organizations, bilateral co-operation and in-kind donations from Governments to assist the Ecuadorian authorities. The donations amounted to a total of US$ 666,187; additional without the contributions from UNESCO (US$ 25,000) and the World Heritage Fund (US$ 50,000) were also provided.

V.136     The Delegate of Ecuador stated that consequences of the oil spill are no longer visible in the Galapagos Islands. He also thanked the Committee for the emergency assistance of US$ 50,000 provided after the oil spill.

V.137     The Bureau, while concerned with the impacts of the oil spill of the tanker Jessica, acknowledged with appreciation the efforts of the State Party and the International Community in relation to the clean-up and rescue activities following the oil spill caused by the tanker. The Bureau encouraged the State Party to expedite regulations to implement the Special Law for Galapagos and to enforce their implementation as soon as possible.

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25 BUR V.128-129 Los Katios National Park (Colombia) V.128     The Bureau noted that no information was received from the State Party concerning the proposed IUCN/UNESCO monitoring mission.  IUCN informed the Bureau that an IUCN representative would visit Colombia in November 2001 that would be an opportunity to obtain more information to be made available for the Committee meeting in December in Finland.

V.129     The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to collaborate with the State Party to schedule the mission to the site. The programme of a field visit should review the state of conservation of the site, and investigate co-operation possibilities for a World Heritage nomination of the Meso-American biological corridor project and transboundary collaboration with the adjacent Darien National Park (Panama).

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25 BUR V.126-127 Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal) V.126     The Bureau noted that IUCN has been alerted to the planned construction of a road through the centre of Royal Chitwan National Park. A bridge is apparently already under construction at Kasara, over the Rapti River, and is high enough to provide access across the River during the monsoon season. The road is being constructed to provide access to the area south of the Park, especially the Madi Village area. Given the large scale of the bridge, it is expected that the road will also be a substantial one. The road will effectively cut the Park in half and may eventually link with India. This would lead to a heavy flow of traffic and better access to the Park, thus leading to illegal use of its resources and the disruption of the ecological integrity of this site. It has also been reported that there is a proposal to put a power-line through the Park to Madi Village along the line of the road. IUCN understands that an EIA was prepared for the electricity line but not for the road and bridge. There is clearly the potential for these developments to threaten the integrity of the World Heritage site.

V.127     The Bureau requested the State Party to provide a report to the Centre, before 15 September 2001, on the status of the development of the road and the power-line construction projects, including information on all environmental impact assessments undertaken, to enable the twenty-fifth extraordinary session of the Bureau to review the potential threats to the integrity of the Park.

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25 BUR V.79-81 Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Pakistan) V.79       The Bureau examined the report on the state of conservation as presented within WHC-2001/CONF.205/4 concerning the Shalamar Gardens. The Bureau recalled that the property faced threats caused by the lack of a comprehensive management strategy and plan, urban encroachment and ad-hoc public works. The need for enhancing the capacity of site management authorities in conservation techniques, project elaboration, and site presentation was also noted. The Centre informed the Bureau that the reformulated international assistance request had been received for utilizing the US$ 50,000 emergency assistance granted to the State Party, This new information would be transmitted to the Advisory Bodies and the Chairperson for their evaluation.

V.80       The Observer of Pakistan expressed her Government’s appreciation to the World Heritage Committee and the World Heritage Centre for the special support being provided following the inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. In particular, the Bureau was informed that her Government welcomed the initiatives being taken by the Centre to mobilize international technical and financial assistance through the European Union Asia-Urbs Programme. Finally, the Observer of Pakistan reassured the Bureau of her Government’s firm commitment to conserve the world heritage values of the Shalamar Gardens and to continue co-operating with the Committee and the Centre for enhancing the management and development of this property.

V.81       The Bureau welcomed the positive actions taken and being planned by the State Party and the World Heritage Centre for the rehabilitation of the Shalamar Gardens and for elaborating a comprehensive management plan for the site. The Bureau requested the State Party and the Centre to continue its close co-operation to ensure that an integrated conservation, management and development plan be elaborated, adopted and implemented as soon as possible. The Bureau requested the State Party and the Centre to report on the progress made in removing the threats facing the site for examination by the Committee at its twenty-fifth session.

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25 BUR V.119-121 The Sundarbans (Bangladesh) V.119     The Bureau noted that the Government of Bangladesh has approved a plan for Shell to explore blocks of the Sundarbans 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. The 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 aircraft. 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.

V.120     Following the declaration of the Sundarbans as a World Heritage site in 1999, the Bangladesh Government launched a six-year Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation Project (SBCP) at a cost of US$ 77 million. The project, which began on 1 April 2000, will develop a system for the conservation of biodiversity in the Sundarbans 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 Sundarbans Reserved Forest.

V.121     The Bureau requested 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 commended the State Party for its ongoing work, in particular through the Sundarbans Biodiversity Action Project, to protect this site.

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25 BUR V.113-115 Greater Blue Mountains Area (Australia) V.113     It has been reported to IUCN that a mining company, Centennial Coal, has lodged a development application with an environment impact statement for a major mining lease extension for the Clarence Colliery. The Clarence Colliery is located on Newnes Plateau that adjoins the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area to the east. The report received by IUCN notes three environmental concerns related to this proposal which are likely to directly affect the World Heritage values of the Greater Blue Mountains Area. These are: water pollution, water conservation (loss of water to the mine pit) and the protection of the World Heritage area by an adequate buffer zone.

V.114     The Delegate of Australia informed the Bureau that the proposed mining lease had been referred to the Australian Government under the World Heritage protection regime of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act.  It would assess any potential significant impacts on World Heritage values before any project approval could be given.

V.115     The Bureau requested the State Party to provide information on the reported lease extension for the Clarence Colliery and its potential impacts on the World Heritage values, before 15 September 2001, to enable the twenty-fifth extraordinary session of the Bureau to assess the potential threats to the integrity of the site.

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25 BUR V.2-5 IguaƧu National Park (Brazil) V.2          The Bureau was informed that the Minister of State for the Environment, by letter of 19 June 2001,  notified the Centre that the Colon Road had been definitively closed as of 13 June 2001. Nearly 300 cadres belonging to the Brazilian Federal Police took part in the operation, sinking the raft used as transport and scarifying the 17 km road. Replanting of the impacted area with native species is now completed. The local people are not happy about the closure of the road and the Government of Brazil is seeking the co-operation of all concerned, including the World Heritage Centre, to improve relations with the people. The Minister has requested that since the legal order to close the Colon Road is now effectively enforced the Committee consider removing Iguacu from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

V.3          The Delegate of Brazil noted that a guard-post is being established at a point where the entrance to the road was located to prevent any illegal entry.  A new management plan for Iguaçu is ready for implementation and includes measures to improve relations with local communities affected by the road closure. The Delegate noted that the declaration of Iguaçu as a World Heritage site in Danger by the Committee played an important role in his Government’s decision to enforce the legal mandate to close the road, despite opposition from local people, and thanked the Bureau, the Centre and IUCN for their support and co-operation to preserve the World Heritage values of the site.

V.4          Visitor facilities in the site have improved; introduction of bus transport in the Park is expected to reduce visitor traffic by 70% by the end of 2001 and an environmental impact assessment of helicopter flights over the waterfalls is proposed. In October 2000, the first workshop on the Management of Natural World Heritage sites in South America was convened in Foz do Iguaçu. Since then, staff of Iguacu of Brazil and Iguazu National Park of Argentina meet on a monthly basis for transborder co-ordination of management activities.

V.5          The Bureau commended the Government’s courageous and decisive action in closing the Colon road. The Bureau noted that the closure of the road has alienated the local communities and invited the State Party, IUCN and the Centre to co-operate to build goodwill and support of the people for the conservation of Iguacu. The Bureau noted with satisfaction the efforts taken by the State Party to improve visitor flow and management in the Park and welcomed the increasing transborder co-operation with the Iguazu National Park of Argentina. The Bureau recommended that, subject to continued positive developments, the Committee, at its forthcoming session, would consider the removal of Iguacu from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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25 BUR V.6-7 Srebarna Nature Reserve (Bulgaria) V.6          The Bureau noted that the State Party has yet to respond to the recommendations of the twenty-fourth session of the Committee (Cairns, 2000). The Bureau learnt that the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences prepared, with financial support from the Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetlands Conservation and Wise Use, a management plan for Srebarna. The Ramsar Bureau has recommended the establishment of an indicator system with several simple, specific and easily measurable parameters to systematically monitor and rapidly detect changes in the state of conservation of Srebarna. In addition, the Ramsar Bureau has suggested that the Bulgarian authorities:

  • seek alternatives, some of which are identified in the plan, to the mechanical removal of bottom sediments from the Lake in order to reduce eutrophication, because they have less ecosystem impacts;
  • monitor water quality in the Danube River and the Srebarna Lake in a comparable manner so as to regulate water transfers between the two ecosystems to minimize eutrophication and improve and restore natural ecological relationships between the two inter-connected ecosystems; and
  • use the practice of reed cutting as a management tool in selected areas and regulate it to improve habitat diversity and generate income for the local community.

V.7          The Bureau commended the State Party and the Ramsar Secretariat for the preparation of the management plan and invited the State Party to consider the above-mentioned recommendations of Ramsar for further refining the plan. The Bureau urged the Centre and IUCN to consult with the State Party and determine an early date for a Centre/Ramsar/IUCN mission to the site in 2001 in order to submit a detailed report to the twenty-fifth session of the Committee in December 2001. The proposed mission should study issues such as: plans and processes for the preparation of a project to establish a bilateral Ramsar site with Romania to promote transboundary co-operation; long-term water management regimes; links and water-flows between the Danube and Srebarna; specific management needs in the short-to-medium term, including technical and financial support from external sources; and indicators for the systematic monitoring of the state of conservation of the site. In accordance with the wish of the last session of the Committee (Cairns, 2000), the Bureau also recommended that the mission review the sustainability of the rehabilitation efforts undertaken; and determine whether the twenty-fifth session of the Committee should consider removing Srebarna from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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25 BUR V.8-10 Manovo Gounda-St.Floris National Park (Central African Republic (CAR)) V.8          The Bureau noted that representatives of the Centre, IUCN, the State Party and the Earth Conservancy, a conservation NGO working closely with the State Party to protect the site, undertook a site visit from 5 to 13 May 2001 to assess the state of conservation and prepare a rehabilitation plan for the site. The Bureau took note of the detailed conclusions and recommendations of the mission report, including description of urgent actions needed for the rehabilitation of the site, outlined in WHC-2001/CONF.205/INF.6.

V.9          The Bureau learnt that the primary threat to this site, as reported in the Bureau and Committee sessions of the last two years, originates from poachers coming from outside the borders of the CAR. The mission had received direct support from the President of the CAR who had met the mission team and made public his Government’s strong commitment to the conservation of the site. Despite the transborder poaching threats, the site still contains substantial numbers of key wildlife species. Given adequate protection, in combination with efforts to promote sustainable economic development in the broader region and promote co-operation with neighbouring countries to control poaching, the site could be rehabilitated within a reasonable period of time.

V.10       The Bureau thanked the President and the Government of the CAR for assisting the Centre, IUCN and the Earth Conservancy to field a successful mission to the site and identify urgent rehabilitation measures. The Bureau noted with satisfaction the conclusions and recommendations of the mission, including  urgent rehabilitation measures and the costs of their implementation, described in document WHC-2001/CONF.205/INF.6. The Bureau agreed with the mission team that rehabilitation and conservation of the site must be linked to socio-economic development of local communities in and around the site. The Bureau invited the Director-General of UNESCO to write to all the neighbouring countries around the CAR to seek their full co-operation in curbing trans-border poaching which is threatening wildlife populations in and around the site. The Bureau invited the Centre and IUCN to work together with all parties concerned to prepare a fund-raising plan for the implementation of the urgent rehabilitation measures, a realistic workplan including institutional responsibilities for the implementation of those measures, and a time frame for the effective rehabilitation of the site and benchmarks that could signal improvements in the state of conservation of the site and assist the Committee’s decision concerning the eventual removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Bureau requested that the fund-raising plan and the workplan be submitted to the Committee session in Finland in December 2001.

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25 BUR V.259-260 Classical Weimar (Germany) V.259     An ICOMOS expert mission was undertaken to the site in order to assess the impact of a road construction project on the universal values of the site. ICOMOS presented the conclusions of the mission.

V.260     The Bureau notes the conclusion of the ICOMOS expert mission to Weimar, that the proposed bypass road (Variant 1): (i) will bring relief to the centre of the city of Weimar, (ii) will not have a negative impact on the fabric of the Tiefurt Schloss and its grounds and (iii) that mitigation measures will be able to conceal the road and will mitigate the effects of traffic on the road from possible viewpoints in Tiefurt Park. It requests the Secretariat to transmit the report to the German authorities for consideration, requesting them to prepare a progress report on the project and mitigation measures by 15 September 2001 for examination by the Bureau at its twenty-fifth extraordinary session.

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25 BUR V.261-267 Megalithic Temples of Malta (Malta) V.261     The Secretariat informed the Bureau that an ICOMOS mission visited the site on 11 and 12 May 2001 to evaluate the damage caused by acts of vandalism that occurred between 12 and 13 April 2001 at Mnajdra, a part of the World Heritage site.

V.262     During his intervention, the ICOMOS Representative indicated that this report comprises several recommendations and in particular:

  • the need for a more complete management plan for all the Megalithic Temples of Malta
  • the need to reinforce security measures for the whole site
  • the need to carry out an investigation to identify those responsible for such acts of vandalism
  • the rapid implementation of a conservation strategy.

V.263     Furthermore, in the report ICOMOS congratulates the State Party for its swift and efficient action in response to these events as well as for actions taken in the framework of the updating of the legal, administrative and scientific structures of the management programme for cultural heritage.

V.264     However, during his intervention, the ICOMOS Representative underlined that, already, during an expert meeting held in 1999, the issue of strengthening security at the site had been discussed.  In conclusion, he mentioned that during his recent mission to the site, he had met with the Minister for Culture who had assured him of the concern of his Government with regard to all these questions.

V.265     The Observer of Malta thanked the Centre and UNESCO for the interest shown following these events.  He indicated that this incident had given rise to an important debate in Parliament and public opinion and that major campaigns for the collection of funds had been initiated to assist in the restoration of the site.  The Observer of Malta furthermore informed the Bureau that immediate action had been taken by the Government on the days following the acts of vandalism.  He emphasised that significant efforts had been made to rehabilitate the site to its former state, that security at the site had been greatly strengthened, notably through the installation of projectors to illuminate the site at night and that they were linked by radio 24h/24h to the police post.  Moreover, he indicated that the fences surrounding the site were being reinforced.  He also mentioned to the Bureau that among the actions to improve the management and the protection of Maltese cultural heritage, a draft law would be submitted very shortly to Parliament.   In concluding, the Observer of Malta notified that an investigation to discover the culprits was underway.

V.266     The Rapporteur informed the Bureau that during a visit to Malta following the events, he had noted that the security at the site was considerably strengthened.  He did however underline that the general state of conservation of the site remained an issue of concern and that this problem should be studied, in particular the problem of erosion.

V.267     The Bureau took note of the information provided by the Observer of Malta and congratulated the State Party for its rapid and efficient reaction to the events as well as for the strengthening of security at the site and invited the State Party to inform the Committee on the progress of these actions.  The Bureau warmly welcomed the State Party's undertaking to review and update the legal, administrative and scientific structure of its management programme for cultural heritage.  The Bureau moreover, indicated its firm wish that close co-operation between the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and the State Party be established, in particular with regard to the evaluation of measures already undertaken for the rehabilitation and conservation of the site as well as for future ones.

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25 BUR V.268-278 Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland) V.268     The Secretariat introduced this item by summarising the report that had been received from the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration on the Government Strategic Programme Oswiecim, the International Group of Experts and the matter of the buffer zone around the World Heritage site. In this context the Secretariat referred to and projected on the screen the delimitation of the site and its buffer zone as proposed in the nomination that was submitted by Poland in 1978. Furthermore, the Secretariat informed the Bureau that it had received a letter of invitation from the Chairman of the International Auschwitz Council for a working visit to Warsaw and to the site.

V.269     The Observer of Israel highlighted that the linking of the sites of Auschwitz and Birkenau is of the utmost importance.

V.270     The Observer of Poland pointed out that the International Auschwitz Council had been set up to consider all the issues pertaining not only to the site of Auschwitz, but also to other Holocaust sites in Poland. With regard to the 100m-zone established around these sites, the Observer of Poland explained that the 100m-zone is a minimum zone and that the linking of the sites of Auschwitz and Birkenau is under discussion. However, the town of Oswiecim with around 50,000 inhabitants is suffering from an economic crisis that needs to be considered in the overall planning for the site. He stressed that the discussion on the issue of the buffer zone can best be discussed during a visit to the site itself. The Observer of Poland, furthermore, stressed the educational value of the concentration camps, and informed the Bureau that Poland is currently preparing a series of educational projects to be presented to UNESCO in this respect.

V.271     Following these interventions, the Chairperson established a drafting group, chaired by himself and with the participation of ICOMOS, the observers of Germany, Israel and Poland and the World Heritage Centre. Following the recommendation of the drafting group, the Bureau adopted the following decision:

"The Bureau takes note of the report of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration on the Government Strategic Programme Oswiecim, the International Group of Experts and the matter of the buffer zone around the World Heritage site. It welcomes the decision of the Government to extend the Strategic Programme for another five years until 2007. It regrets that the International Group of Experts has not met since March 1999. It expresses the hope that under the aegis of the International Auschwitz Council, its terms of reference will be agreed upon and that the Group will be able to effectively meet and contribute to the development of a Management Plan for the area of the State Museum and its surroundings as referred to in the Declaration Concerning Principles for Implementation of Programme Oswiecimski that was signed on 5 March 1997.

V.272     The Bureau recalls that the area inscribed on the World Heritage List coincides with the area of the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau and that, on the matter of the buffer zone, the nomination dossier for the site, submitted by the Polish authorities on 6 June 1978, refers to the zone of protection being expanded from 300 to 1000 metres and that a map was attached (see Annex VI) with an indication of a silence and a protection zone. Noting that the matter of the buffer zone and the need for a preservation plan for the site and its surroundings had been under discussion at sessions of the Bureau and the Committee since 1996, the Bureau recalls that the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-second session (1998) confirmed its support for the principles laid out in the Declaration of March 1997 and also confirmed its support that this process continues in a consensual manner among all parties involved and that it expressed the belief that no steps should be made unless consensus is reached. It notes with regret that a consensus on the planning and protection of the surroundings of the Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps has not been reached and that the Minister in his report states that the effective legal buffer zone is a strip of land not wider than 100 metres from the boundaries of the Holocaust Monument and that how land outside this zone be used is decided exclusively by the officials of the township council. The Bureau notes that no information has been made available to it on the plans that have been or may be in the process of preparation by the local authorities.

V.273     The Bureau commends the State Party for the establishment of the 100-metre zone as a zone with strict regulations and control, for the substantive study that has been undertaken by the State Museum on the situation of the area before, during and after the war and on the importance it attaches to the education of young people.

V.274     However, the Bureau is of the opinion that the 100 metres zone cannot be considered as equivalent to a buffer zone and that there is an urgent need to:

(i)      confirm the buffer zone that is specific to the site and that was submitted at the time of the nomination of the site for inscription on the World Heritage List and implement appropriate management practices in this zone under the responsibility of the national authorities;

(ii)     establish a Management Plan for the area that is under the authority of the State Museum and for the buffer zone.

V.275     The Management Plan for the State Museum and the buffer zone should:

  • guarantee the preservation of the sacred and symbolic character of both the Auschwitz and the Birkenau Concentration Camps and their surroundings;
  • prevent inappropriate constructions and/or functions in their surroundings including the discotheque;
  • ensure the preservation of elements that at this moment are not part of the State Museum and World Heritage site but that are intimately linked to it and that are essential for the understanding and interpretation of the site (e.g. the area between Auschwitz and Birkenau where the railways are located). The above-mentioned study may provide the basis for the identification of these elements.
  • ensure the physical link of both sites [Auschwitz and Birkenau], as referred to in the Declaration of March 1997.

V.276     The Bureau acknowledges with appreciation the invitation for a working visit that the Chairman of the International Auschwitz Council extended by letter dated 25 May 2001 and requested the Secretariat to make the necessary arrangements for the visit of a UNESCO-ICOMOS mission. It expresses the sincere hope and expectation that such a mission will contribute to an effective and constructive co-operation between all parties concerned and will result in a common understanding of and agreement on the ways and means to adequately protect and manage the Concentration Camps and their surroundings.

V.277     The Bureau decides to defer further examination of this issue to its twenty-fifth extraordinary session and to the twenty-fifth session of the World Heritage Committee."

V.278     The Chairperson then informed the Bureau that at the invitation of the State Party, he would undertake a mission to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 1 and 2 July 2001 together with representatives of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and the International Group of Experts.

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25 BUR V.15-17 Okapi Wildlife Reserve (DRC) V.15       This site too has been threatened by coltan miners. Efforts to control poaching and mining have been somewhat more successful in Okapi than in Kahuzi Biega. The armed forces of Uganda assisted the staff to evict several poachers from Okapi in late 2000. The leader of the rebel group in control of this part of the DRC territory had ordered the removal of all miners from the site. Effective action is being taken by the staff and the rebel forces in the area and the threat to this site from miners and poachers has been brought under some degree of control relative to the situation in Kahuzi Biega. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) of USA had written to concerned authorities in Uganda appreciating their support for the conservation of Okapi. However, WCS had expressed its strong objection to an incident where some Ugandan soldiers had allegedly assaulted a staff member of Okapi. WCS requested the Ugandan authorities to investigate the matter and take measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. The Ugandan forces have withdrawn from the area in response to recent peace initiatives encouraged by the new President of the DRC. Coltan miners appear to be returning to the area. WCS has reported that the miners' activity in the periphery of the Reserve has increased and that staff capacity needs to be urgently strengthened in order to stabilise the state of conservation of the site.

V.16       The Tantalum-Niobium International Study Centre (T.I.C.) located in Brussels, Belgium, estimates that less than 15% of the world's tantalum supply comes from Africa. T.I.C. in Brussels, Belgium, has issued a press statement condemning the illegal mining in Kahuzi Biega and Okapi and in other protected areas of DRC. The T.I.C. has agreed to:

  • inform its 66 member companies around the world of the issues surrounding the illegal activities and their consequences;
  • support the efforts of relevant authorities to enforce an immediate removal of miners from within the boundaries of the national parks; and
  • encourage major processors to obtain their tantalum and niobium supplies from lawful sources in Africa and other parts of the world and refrain from purchasing materials from regions where either the environment or wildlife is threatened.

V.17       An appeal was made by the Director General of IUCN in March 2001 to the Heads of States in the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda and to world-wide media and interest groups, calling upon buyers of coltan to ensure that they are purchasing the product from lawful sources outside of World Heritage sites. The IUCN appeal called on the Governments of the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda to help enforce the immediate removal of miners from within the boundaries of both affected sites, and invited the three Governments concerned and the buyers of coltan to take necessary steps to find alternative livelihoods for all miners evicted from World Heritage sites of the DRC. 

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25 BUR V.18-27 Salonga National Park (DRC) V.18       This was the only site under direct control of ICCN-Kinshasa.  In Salonga, the Director General of ICCN has developed a number of small projects supporting the conservation of key wildlife species in co-operation with NGO partners like the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) and the Max Plank Institute (MPI) of Germany. IUCN has been informed by ICCN that uncontrolled poaching of elephants and the bonobos, lack of equipment for staff for anti-poaching work, insufficient numbers of guards and inadequate training available for guards are some of the major constraints to the effective protection of this site. The plight of the bonobos has attracted particular attention of specialised NGOs such as the Bonobo Conservation Initiative (Washington, D.C., USA). UNEP has launched a Great Apes Initiative to protect the gorillas, chimpanzees, the bonobos and other related species; the most important habitats of several of these ape species are concentrated in the World Heritage sites of the DRC and protected areas of neighbouring countries like Rwanda and Uganda.

V.19       The UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project - Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict – conservation of the World Heritage sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - was designed and launched in 2000 as a step to build the morale of the staff who demonstrated dedication to conservation of the sites in the DRC by continuing to remain and work in a region where risks to their lives and property are significant. Paying monthly support payments, performance related bonuses and other remuneration to site staff as a way of stabilising the conservation situation in each site was considered a priority. Despite legal and administrative delays during late 2000/early 2001, contracts have now been finalised with NGO partners to deliver support payments to site staff of all five sites.

V.20       Monthly support payments, performance related bonuses and other remuneration to more than 500 staff in Virunga, about 230 in Garamba and about 60 in Okapi had begun to reach the sites and will cover a period backdated to October 2000. In the case of Salonga, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) has begun transferring payments to the site with the help of several partners in Kinshasa including the UN Organisation Mission in DRC (MONUC). In Kahuzi Biega too, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in co-operation with the GTZ (Germany) project for the site is assisting the Centre in transferring funds for the benefit of this site staff. In Salonga and Kahuzi Biega payment to staff will be backdated as of February-March 2001. The delays incurred in establishing contracts with NGOs for transferring year 1 payments to site staff were regretted by all concerned but will help to prevent such delays in establishing similar contracts at the beginning of the subsequent years of the 4-year project. Hence the path for effective delivery of assistance to site staff on a continuous basis for the period 2001-2004 has now been cleared.

V.21       Other arrangements for the execution of site-specific and joint activities, e.g. biodiversity monitoring, training for site staff in law enforcement monitoring, purchase and delivery of equipment essential for staff performance of duties etc., are being negotiated with selected NGO partners and will be finalised soon. Possible dates for a high level diplomatic mission to the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda, and the possibilities for the Director-General of UNESCO leading such a mission, are also under study.

V.22       The Bureau was pleased to note that the Belgium Government has approved a 4-year project (for 300,000 Euros) to support community-based activities for the conservation of the DRC sites. This project brings in essential benefits to the sites through the work of local communities who must support the work of site staff for effective conservation. UNESCO and the DRC Government are about to finalise the Operational Plan for the execution of the UNESCO/Belgium/DRC Project. Project execution will commence soon and run parallel to the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project.

V.23       A UN Panel Report on the "Illegal exploitation of mineral and forest resources in the DRC", released in April 2001 holds many of the African countries implicated in the war in the DRC responsible for unsustainable and often illegal resource extraction practices in DRC. Most of those countries are States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. In respect of the coltan mining threat reported earlier, IUCN pointed out that the UN Panel has recommended that the "Security Council should immediately declare a temporary embargo on the import or export of coltan (and other resources)....." and that "UNESCO in collaboration with UNEP, the Secretariat of CITES and non-governmental organisations working in the DRC, should assess the extent of damage to wildlife in Garamba National Park, Kahuzi Biega National Park, the Okapi Reserve and Virunga National Park, and propose sanctions to be taken against those countries whose Governments were involved in the mass killings of endangered species". The report's findings imply that many African States Parties involved in the war in the DRC may have failed to comply with Article 6, paragraph 3 of the Convention that calls upon States Parties to refrain from actions that may directly or indirectly damage the Heritage situated in the territory of another State Party to the Convention.

V.24       Pointing out the historical responsibilities of Belgium to the DRC, the Delegate of Belgium expressed his country’s satisfaction at being able to support conservation of World Heritage sites in the DRC.   He, however, emphasised that poverty is the prime cause driving unsustainable exploitation of resources in the DRC, including the illegal exploitation of coltan. He called for the Convention’s emphasis on international co-operation, as highlighted in Article 11 of the Convention, as the best approach to appeal to other States Parties, including the closest neighbours of the DRC, to support the conservation of World Heritage sites in the DRC.

V.25       The Delegate of Thailand expressed concern with the situation in Kahuzi Biega, as 90% of the area was inaccessible and there were 10,000 mines.  In such a situation he wondered whether de-listing of the property was not advisable.  In response to that, the Centre and IUCN, noted that considerations for de-listing of any one of the DRC sites, including the worst-affected Kahuzi Biega National Park, are premature at present. It was not possible to quantify the problem in the absence of research.  The area had lowland gorillas, a "flagship" species.  In addition, there were positive developments indicating that peace would return to the DRC.  The Delegate of Morocco observed that ecosystem rehabilitation will have to figure prominently in the future management of the sites in the DRC in order to revive wildlife populations that are being decimated during the current period of conflict and restore other World Heritage values which are under severe pressure.

V.26       The Bureau invited the Director-General of UNESCO to write, quoting appropriate texts from the UN report on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC, to Heads of concerned African States Parties to the Convention, recalling their obligations to comply with Article 6, paragraph 3 of the Convention and inviting them to ensure that their representatives and agents in the DRC refrain from taking actions that may directly or indirectly threaten the integrity of the World Heritage sites in the DRC. The Bureau urged the Centre and IUCN to liaise with T.I.C. to explore ways and means to initiate a dialogue between the member companies of T.I.C. and their respective Governments, States Parties to the Convention. Such a dialogue should make the T.I.C. membership fully aware of their countries' obligations under the World Heritage Convention to protect the heritage of all States Parties to the Convention, including that of the DRC. The Bureau noted with satisfaction that monthly support and other payments are now reaching the site staff and thanked the UNF for providing this timely assistance that will continue until 2004. The Bureau stressed, however, the need for the Centre and its project partners to ensure effective and timely execution of the 4-year UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project and requested the Centre to submit a report on the progress achieved by the project to the twenty-fifth session of the Committee in December 2001.

V.27       The Bureau also thanked the Government of Belgium for approving, within the framework of its co-operation agreement with Belgium, a project to support local community activities for conserving the World Heritage sites of the DRC. The Bureau recalled its discussions during the special opening session on the morning of 25 June 2001 on heritage conservation in regions of civil unrest and armed conflict, and noted that the implementation of UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP and the UNESCO/DRC/Belgium Projects in the DRC could provide valuable lessons on the subject. Any future discussions on this theme should henceforth include both World Cultural as well as Natural Heritage.

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