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World Heritage Convention

Decision 44 COM 7B.191
Doñana National Park (Spain) (N 685bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.2738 COM 7B.79, 39 COM 7B.26, 41 COM 7B.9 and 43 COM 7B.20 adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively,
  3. Appreciates the State Party’s continued efforts to reduce groundwater usage from the Doñana aquifer, including through continued inspections, use of Earth Observation technologies, and closures of illegal wells and illegally irrigated farmlands, however, expresses its utmost concern that despite these efforts three water bodies have officially been declared as overexploited and that the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) considers that the excessive abstraction of groundwater in the Doñana natural area infringes the EU Habitats Directive;
  4. Notes the conclusion of the 2020 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN/Ramsar Reactive Monitoring mission that the values for which the property has been inscribed under both the World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands are still present but that there remains scientific uncertainty about the impacts of the wider eco-hydrological dynamics of Doñana and the potential future risks of the impacts of climate change on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  5. Requests the State Party to implement all recommendations of the 2020 mission, in particular to:
    1. Increase the resources available to the Guadalquivir Hydrographical Confederation; continue the urgent implementation of the Special Management Plan of the Irrigation Zones located to the North of the Forest Crown of Doñana; ensure that projects including water transfers, dam extensions, and licensed groundwater abstraction have no negative impact on the OUV; and also encourage, incentivize and provide financial support if needed for the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices by farmers of the Doñana area,
    2. Relocate within three years the most eastern wells that provide water for the Matalascañas tourist resort,
    3. Undertake an increased research effort to understand the relationship between the hydrology and ecology of the area, including the construction of an eco-hydrological model of the property which can inform management actions and actions to increase the resilience of the property under climate change,
    4. Create a strategic plan that defines conceptually the extent to which a reduction in water consumption is required in response to climate change impacts to conserve and protect the OUV of the property, and the extent to which alterations to the OUV and ecological character of the wetland ecosystem due to climate change can be expected, along with any adaptation and mitigation measures that can be implemented to maintain the conditions of integrity of the property and increase its resilience,
    5. Finalize the retrospective Statement of OUV (rSOUV) as soon as possible and develop a clear set of fixed indicators to monitor the state of conservation of the OUV, and report on those indicators in future state of conservation reports,
    6. Present an updated Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Guadalquivir River Basin to ensure that it includes a specific chapter on the OUV of the property, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre,
    7. Continue honoring the previously made commitment to remove any deep dredging from the revised Guadalquivir Basin Hydrological Plan (2021-2027),
    8. Demonstrate great caution with regards to re-opening the former Aznalcóllar mine, and ensure that systematic risk preparedness and emergency action plans take into account the property and submit these analyses for review by IUCN, as soon as they become available and before a decision on re-opening the mine is made,
    9. Put in place a systematic monitoring of the possible impacts and risk assessments of Rincon-2 and Marismas-3 on the hydrology and OUV, include a summary of those findings in future state of conservation reports, and ensure that the individual and cumulative impacts on the property’s OUV of any development or infrastructure project in or near the property are thoroughly assessed in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment,
    10. Establish an official World Heritage buffer zone around the property that includes the Natural Park (Ramsar Site), Natura 2000 sites and other established protected areas in the immediate water catchment of the property which underpins its OUV;
  6. Also requests the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, in cooperation with the State Party, to finalize the rSOUV for the property for adoption at the next session;
  7. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.
Decision Code
44 COM 7B.191
States Parties 1
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
2021 Doñana National Park
Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision