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Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors and the lack of maintenance

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a)  Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning;

b)  Erosion

c)  Lack of established boundaries and buffer zone;

d)  Absence of a conservation and management plan;

e)  Encroachments and urban pressure;

f)  Tourism pressure (particularly at Portobelo)

g)  Insufficient legislation for the preservation of built heritage and regulations combining the two components of the property

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning;
  • Erosion
  • Lack of established boundaries and buffer zone;
  • Absence of a conservation and management plan;
  • Encroachments and urban pressure;
  • Tourism pressure (particularly at Portobelo)
  • Insufficient legislation for the preservation of built heritage and regulations combining the two components of the property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 4 (from 1980-1993)
Total amount approved : 76,800 USD
Missions to the property until 2013**

November 2001: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; March 2010: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

In response to the requests made by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), the State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 31 January 2013. The report provides information on the general state of conservation of the property and general actions to be implemented, as well as annexes on the work carried out to date at the Santiago Fort in Portobelo and the soil analysis undertaken. No precise data according to the request for reporting is included on the progress made on implementation of the corrective measures that were adopted when the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

On 14 March 2013, the State Party made a presentation on the joint Management Plan for two World Heritage properties in Panama: The Fortifications on the Caribbean side of Panama, Portobelo and San Lorenzo in conjunction with the Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and Historic District. From the presentation, this would ensure consistency in decision-making and promote larger synergies; however no detailed information has been provided to ascertain the efficacy and adequacy of the proposal.

a)  The lack of an Emergency Plan

The State Party report includes synthetic information on the current conditions at the property that resulted from the monitoring carried out. It identifies causes and effects of deterioration, including an assessment of the risks and threats, as well as a list of potential solutions.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that this baseline information could be used to develop the Emergency Plan for the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee according to the Desired state of conservation and in full coherence with the related corrective measures adopted. The provided assessment of risks and threats and the proposed solutions need to be supported with supplementary information, not provided by the State Party at this stage, such as an assessment of the rate and extent of decay and an assessment of structural and mechanical risks, in order to prioritise interventions within the framework of the Emergency Plan. In addition, this should be articulated in full coherence with the recommendations of the 2010 reactive monitoring mission. Once this is done, a timeframe, phases for implementation and costs would need to be identified as a matter of urgency.

b)  Interventions carried out

The State Party reports on the works implemented at the property. These included the railings to secure access and functionality to the fortifications, and the installation of new signage with updated information. The State Party also reports on studies conducted for the implementation of the protection system to prevent mudslides and landslides.

The report includes an annex on the results of the soil investigation which was carried out to determine existing subsoil conditions in the area of landslides. The information provided should be useful for the definition of adequate strategies to prevent further mud and landslides and erosion of slopes that could potentially affect the attributes of the property. In the case of the Santiago Fort, interventions have centred on maintenance works (i.e. general cleaning of debris and trash, vegetation control), on the removal of rocks and boulders from the entrance of the fort, the placement of new soil on entrance, the placement of gravel paths at the entrance and the installation of new signage. The interventions did not involve structural work or repair of the masonry elements.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that, although the interventions improved the conditions of access to the Santiago Fort in Portobelo, substantial efforts are still needed to address the poor state of conservation of most of the built heritage at the property, and that interventions need to be centred on areas potentially at risk of collapsing. During a meeting on 14 March 2013 between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, the State Party has mentioned studies carried out for the construction of a retaining wall to prevent collapsing and landslides at the Santiago Fort in Portobelo, but further detailed technical information needs to be provided for evaluation on this particular issue prior to any intervention in the area.

c)  Issues not addressed

Apart from the above-mentioned elements that could constitute a base for an Emergency Plan, the report contains no specific information on the response to the requests made by the Committee within the framework of the Desired State of Conservation. The lack of legal instruments and of a clear budget is particularly worrying.

The related corrective measures expected to be implemented immediately have not been addressed as desired by the Committee. As mentioned previously, a risk assessment has been partially completed and operational management arrangements have been carried out. However, the State Party has provided no information on budgets nor on encroachments and urban pressure control. Moreover, the information provided on the Technical Office in Portobelo does not clarify the role of the institutions in the decision-making for conservation process.

d)  Management system

The State Party has submitted a joint Management Plan for two World Heritage properties in Panama. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the joint management system for the two properties needs to clarify the decision-making process for each of the properties in order to respect the specific character, the adequate conservation response according to the state of decay and the related emergencies detected and the way in which each of the properties is properly monitored.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2013

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies take note of the efforts made for setting up a coordinated national management system for World Heritage. However, they note the limited progress made by the State Party in the implementation of the Desired state of conservation and of the corrective measures of this property. They recommend that the World Heritage Committee express its concern that a comprehensive Emergency Plan has not yet been developed to identify a clear course of action to address the poor state of conservation of the property.

In addition, they note that no clear information was included on the decision-making process for the properties, nor on the role of the Technical Office in Portobelo in preparing the Emergency Plan. The institutional, legal and financial instruments to address the conservation and management of the property need to be clarified and put into force as a matter of urgency. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7A.36
Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) (C 135)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.102 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Takes note of the information provided by the State Party on the conditions at the property and the actions implemented and regrets that the report did not specifically relate information to the adopted corrective measures;

4.  Expresses its serious concern for the limited progress that has been achieved in the execution of the corrective measures and urges the State Party to implement them within the approved timeframe, with particular attention to:

a)  formulation of a budgeted Emergency Plan that includes the identification of priority interventions for stabilization, conservation and protection with timeframes and priority interventions for implementation,

b)  ensuring that operational conservation arrangements are in place and that budgets have been secured for the implementation of the Emergency Plan,

c)  identification of measures to address encroachments and urban pressure;

5.  Requests the State Party to submit comprehensive technical and graphic information on the planned construction of a retaining wall at the Santiago de la Gloria fort in Portobelo by 30 October 2013 , and to halt the interventions until the evaluation of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies is submitted to the State Party;

6.  Also requests the State Party to submit clear information on the role of the Patronato de Portobelo for the conservation of the property within the framework of a collective Management Plan for this property and the Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá;

7.  Further requests the State Party to invite an advisory mission to support the State Party in providing guidelines to finalize the diagnosis and to prepare a comprehensive conservation Emergency Plan as soon as possible ;

8.  Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , 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 38th session in 2014;

9.  Decides to retain Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

37 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (retained properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-13/37.COM/7A, WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add and WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add.
  2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 37 COM 7A.29 )
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 37 COM 7A.30 )
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 37 COM 7A.16 )
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.1)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 37 COM 7A.37 )
  • Colombia, Los Katíos National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.17 )
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.2 )
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 37 COM 7A.3 )
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.4 )
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.5 )
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.6 )
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.7 )
  • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 37 COM 7A.8 )
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 37 COM 7A.23 )
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.10 )
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 37 COM 7A.32 )
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 37 COM 7A.33 )
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 37 COM 7A.18 )
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 37 COM 7A.14 )
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 37 COM 7A.24 )
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 37 COM 7A.25 )
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 37 COM 7A.26 )
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 37 COM 7A.11 )
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 37 COM 7A.19 )
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 37 COM 7A.20 )
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 37 COM 7A.12 )
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 37 COM 7A.27 )
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 37 COM 7A.36 )
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 37 COM 7A.38 )
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.13 )
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 37 COM 7A.34 )
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 37 COM 7A.21 )
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (Decision 37 COM 7A.22 )
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 37 COM 7A.35 )
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 37 COM 7A.15 )
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 37 COM 7A.39 )
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 37 COM 7A.28 )
Draft Decision:  37 COM 7A.36

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.102, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Takes note of the information provided by the State Party on the conditions at the property and the actions implemented and regrets that the report did not specifically relate information to the adopted corrective measures;

4.  Expresses its serious concern for the limited progress that has been achieved in the execution of the corrective measures and urges the State Party to implement them within the approved timeframe, with particular attention to:

a)  Formulation of a budgeted Emergency Plan that includes the identification of priority interventions for stabilization, conservation and protection with timeframes and priority interventions for implementation,

b)  Ensuring that operational conservation arrangements are in place and that budgets have been secured for the implementation of the Emergency Plan,

c)  Identification of measures to address encroachments and urban pressure;

5.  Requests the State Party to submit comprehensive technical and graphic information on the planned construction of a retaining wall at the Santiago de la Gloria fort in Portobelo by 30 October 2013, and to halt the interventions until the evaluation of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies is submitted to the State Party;

6.  Also requests the State Party to submit clear information on the role of the Patronato de Portobelo for the conservation of the property within the framework of a collective Management Plan for this property and the Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá;

7.  Further requests the State Party to invite an advisory mission to support the State Party in providing guidelines to finalize the diagnosis and to prepare a comprehensive conservation Emergency Plan as soon as possible,

8.  Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, 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 38th session in 2014;

9.  Decides to retain Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 2013
Panama
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iv)
Danger List (dates): 2012-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 37COM (2013)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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