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Decision 24 BUR IV.B.48
Mount Emei Scenic Area including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area (China)

The Bureau was informed that in accordance with the request of the twenty-third session of the Committee, the Ministry of Construction of China submitted a report on the state of conservation of this site.  The report dealt particularly with the project to construct a monorail that had been completed. The Bureau noted that the project had been approved by the Ministry of Construction in China in September 1997, taking into consideration environmental protection and the scale of construction of a non-polluting source of transportation for tourists with an aerial view of the scenic area. The width of the monorail is 40 cm, the width of the carriage is 150 cm and each car is 6 meters long and the total length of the vehicle is less than 15 m. The total length of the monorail is 2100 m. The Ministry had opted for the construction of the monorail in preference to the construction of a new walkway which it considered would have damaged the natural environment. The monorail project came into operation in 1998; in March 2000, the Vice Minister headed a team that visited the site and found that the project did not have significant impacts on the natural values of the site. The Ministry is of the view that the monorail project has minimal impacts on the ecology of the site but, with a view to better conservation of the site, is willing to invite both international and national experts to visit the site, view the operations of the monorail and undertake a scientific analysis and recommend measures to further minimise environmental impacts.

The Bureau also noted that though the Centre had been notified of a World Bank Project to build a walkway close to the Giant Buddha, the report submitted by the Ministry of Construction does not make any mention of the project.

ICOMOS informed the Bureau that it was unable to assess the impact of the monorail project based on the report submitted by the Ministry of Construction of China since the report did not contain any photographic or other illustrative materials. IUCN was also of the view that it would not be able to comment on the impacts of the project and the report submitted by the Ministry of Construction without a site visit that would need to be separately funded.

The Observer of China thanked the Bureau and advisory bodies for their observations and comments and invited an IUCN/ICOMOS mission to visit the site to view the project and undertake a thorough review of the report submitted by the Ministry of Construction. ICOMOS informed the Bureau that it had foreseen a mission to the site in August 2000 and expressed the hope that IUCN could make an expert available at that time in order to field a joint mission.

The Bureau requested that IUCN and ICOMOS field a mission to the site as early as possible and submit a detailed report on the state of conservation with specific reference to the environmental impacts of the monorail project, environmental safeguards put in place by the State Party and additional mitigation measures that may be necessary and submit that report to the twenty-fourth extraordinary session of the Bureau in Cairns, Australia.

Context of Decision