Decision : CONF 205 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.