Statement by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre on mission to study conservation and infrastructure development in Ibiza
Representatives from the national, regional and local authorities led by Spain's Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Ambassador María Jesús San Segundo, met Francesco Bandarin, Director of the World Heritage Centre, on 8 October to discuss the conservation of the World Heritage property of "Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture".
The meeting focused on preparations of a joint expert mission to the Spanish site by the World Heritage Centre, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The mission is scheduled to take place in November.
The World Heritage Committee, at its 33rd session in Seville, Spain, in June 2009, examined the state of conservation of "Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture" (Spain), inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1999 as a mixed cultural and natural site.
The Committee expressed concern about the conservation of the property and about the potential impact of a project to expand the facilities of the port of Ibiza. It therefore requested that the World Heritage Centre and UNESCO's two heritage advisory bodies conduct a mission to the site. The experts are expected to submit a report to the World Heritage Committee ahead of its next session which will take place in July 2010.
The World Heritage Committee also requested details on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the site. It furthermore asked that construction of the proposed expansion of the port's facility be delayed until after the visit of the mission so that its recommendations may be taken on board. The World Heritage Committee will once again examine the state of conservation of the site at its next meeting.
The World Heritage site was inscribed on the World Heritage List as an excellent example of the interaction between marine and coastal ecosystems. Its dense prairies of oceanic Posidonia (seagrass), a species only found only in the Mediterranean basin, contain and support a diversity of marine life. In addition, the Committee also recognized that Ibiza preserves considerable evidence of its long history. The archaeological sites at Sa Caleta (settlement) and Puig des Molins (necropolis) testify to the important role played by the island in the Mediterranean economy, particularly during the Phoenician-Carthaginian period, while the fortified Upper Town (Alta Vila) had a profound influence on the development of fortifications in the Spanish settlements of the New World.
Already at the time of inscription the marine component of the site was threatened by a large project to reorganize and expand the port of Ibiza. IUCN concluded at the time that the potential impacts on the marine component of the property could be mitigated through a number of measures.