1.         Srebarna Nature Reserve (Bulgaria) (N 219bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1983

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/219/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/219/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

1992: 2 IUCN missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Upstream Iron Gates dam ; Deterioration of the water quality; Impact of upstream pig farms; Loss of biodiversity

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/219/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1992

At its last session, the Committee recognized that due to the slow drying of the lake-bed, exacerbated upstream development projects, impacts of, nearby pig farms and a rise in the wild boar population, the water quality and balance in this small (600 ha) World Heritage site has deteriorated to such an extent that the site is no longer ecologically viable. Large colonies of water birds, except for the Dalmatian Pelican, were absent and many of the passerine species have emigrated and occur only in low numbers. As recommended by the Committee, the Secretariat, via letter dated 3 February 1992, requested the Permanent Delegate of Bulgaria to UNESCO to contact and obtain the agreement of the management authority of the Srebarna Biosphere Reserve to nominate this site to the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Secretariat has not yet received a reply from the Bulgarian authorities to this letter. In the meantime, IUCN has undertaken a mission and made an assessment of whether this site still meets natural heritage criterion (iv). IUCN will provide a report on the state of conservation of this site at the time of the meeting of the Bureau.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1992

The Bureau recalled that the Committee, at its last session, recommended that the Bulgarian authorities nominate this site for inclusion in the List of World Heritage in Danger because this small (600 hectare) World Heritage site had lost much of its ecological viability. The Bureau was informed that IUCN had undertaken two missions to this site during early 1992, and that although its importance as a Ramsar site and a biosphere reserve within a European context could still be retained with the implementation of specific remedial actions, its World Heritage status can no longer be justified because it has deteriorated to a state where it has irretrievably lost many of the characteristics which determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List.

The Bureau recommended that the Committee, at its forthcoming session in December, consider deleting this property from the World Heritage List, and in accordance with paragraph 41(c) of the Operational Guidelines, requested the Secretariat to inform the Bulgarian authorities of its recommendation to the Committee. The Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to obtain all observations and comments the Bulgarian authorities may wish to make regarding this recommendation in time to submit them for the consideration of the Committee.

The Permanent Delegate of Bulgaria to UNESCO was informed of the Bureau's observations and recommendations by a letter dated 14 August 1992. By his letter dated 7 October 1992, the Permanent Delegate of Bulgaria to UNESCO transmitted to the World Heritage Centre a letter from the Minister for Environment, who agrees that the ecological conditions in Srebarna have deteriorated; he has requested that the Committee include Srebarna in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Minister, however, is of the view that deterioration in the ecology of the lakes is not irreversible, and has informed the World Heritage Centre that during 1992, 80 pairs of dalmatian pelicans were seen in the lake and 60 new-born pelicans were also observed. The Minister has also provided, in attachment to his letter, details of a project for assessing the state of conservation of Srebarna evaluating various options available for rehabilitating Srebarna. This project is expected to be completed in early 1993, and the findings and recommendations of the project will be made available to the World Heritage Centre.

The Committee is requested by the Bulgarian authorities to include Srebarna in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 16 BUR V.15

The Bureau recalled that the Committee, at its last session, recommended that the Bulgarian authorities nominate this site for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger because this small (600 hectare) World Heritage site had lost much of its ecological viability. The Bureau was informed that IUCN had undertaken two missions to Bulgaria since the last session of the Committee and that although the site's importance as a Ramsar site and a Biosphere Reserve, in particular within a European context, could still be retained with the implementation of specific remedial actions, its World Heritage status can no longer be justified because it has deteriorated to a state where it has irretrievably lost many of the characteristics which determined its inclusion on the World Heritage List.

The Bureau recommended that the Committee, at its forthcoming session in December, consider deleting this property from the World Heritage List, and in accordance with paragraph 41(c) of the Operational Guidelines, requested the World Heritage Centre to inform the Bulgarian authorities of its recommendation to the Committee. The Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to obtain all observations and comments the Bulgarian authorities may wish to make regarding this recommendation to the Committee in time to submit them to the consideration of the Committee, scheduled to meet in December 1992.

Decision Adopted: 16 COM VIII

Srebarna Biosphere Reserve (Bulgaria)

The Committee recalled that at its last session, it recommended that the Bulgarian authorities nominate this small (600 ha) site for inclusion in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee was informed of the conclusion of two IUCN missions to this site undertaken in early 1992: although Srebarna's importance as a Ramsar site and a biosphere reserve could still be retained by the implementation of specific remedial measures, its World Heritage status can no longer be justified because it has deteriorated to a state where it has irretrievably lost the characteristics which merited its inclusion in the World Heritage List. The Bureau at its last session held in Paris in July 1992, recommended that the Committee consider deleting this property from the List and had requested the Centre to obtain all observations and comments the Bulgarian authorities may wish to make.

The Committee recalled that Srebarna Biosphere Reserve was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1983 on the basis of criterion (iv), i.e. as a naturally functioning ecosystem providing an important and significant habitat for the threatened Dalmatian Pelican. The IUCN Representative informed the Committee that a series of upstream interferences, including the Iron Gates Dam, have permanently altered the natural hydrology of the Danube River in the region and that of Srebarna, located downstream along the river. Prevention of seasonal flooding has caused significant decline in the size and productivity of Srebarna; agricultural and residential use of surrounding areas have impacted the wetland leading to decline or disappearance of the water and passerine bird populations. Consequently, while awaiting the results of the on-going studies, the Committee decided to inscribe Srebarna on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Observer from Bulgaria, while agreeing with the Committee's decision that this site be included on the List of World Heritage in Danger, was of the view that measures which are being currently taken by the Bulgarian Government will restore the World Heritage values of Srebarna. He said that his Government is planning to construct two canals which will increase and regulate water delivery to Srebarna. Furthermore, 200 ha of surrounding area have been added to the Reserve and all agricultural and residential activities which impacted the lake have been halted. He informed the Committee of an on-going project to prepare a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the site and a plan for ecosystem restoration, and that the report of this project would be available in the first quarter of 1993.

The Committee instructed the Centre to indicate to the Bulgarian authorities that scientific evidence available to date suggests that the site may no longer possess the natural habitat values for which it was inscribed, and that a full restoration of a naturally functioning ecosystem appears to be highly problematic and may be impossible. The Committee invited the Bulgarian authorities to submit to the Centre, not later than 1 May 1993, the results of their on-going project to prepare a comprehensive 'assessment of the state of conservation of the site and a plan for ecosystem restoration. The assessment should include an analysis of available data to monitor biological populations and environmental quality.

The Committee requested the Centre to co-operate with experts nominated by IUCN and the Secretariat of the RAMSAR Convention to undertake an interdisciplinary review of the report on the state of conservation and ecosystem restoration plan which the Bulgarian authorities are expected to submit. The interdisciplinary review will require participation of specialists in wetland ecosystem dynamics, wetland restoration, avian population dynamics, hydrology, regional planning, resource management and other relevant disciplines. A report on the outcome of the review, indicating the possibility of the full restoration of a self-sustaining wetland ecosystem, including a viable population of the threatened Dalmatian Pelican that contributes substantially to the survival of the species, should be submitted to the Bureau at its seventeenth session. The Bureau will assess whether the proposed plan being developed by the Bulgarian authorities, will enable a full restoration of Srebarna as a naturally functioning wetland ecosystem. If the Bureau concludes that such restoration is not technically feasible, then the Bureau should recommend that the Committee delete Srebarna from the World Heritage List at its seventeenth session.

 

Decision Adopted: 16 COM X.E

Srebarna Biosphere Reserve (Bulgaria)

The Committee, as requested by the authorities of Bulgaria by letter of 7 October 1992 decided, to include this site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee's observations and recommendations regarding the state of conservation of this site are described in Chapter VIII, page 21.