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Alto Douro Wine Region

Portugal
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Construction of a hydro-electric dam at Foz Tua

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2013**

April 2011: ICOMOS advisory mission; July/August 2012: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN reactive monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 30 July to 3 August 2012 to assess the potential impact of the revised Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, its boundaries, as well as the property’s management system, the protection of the setting, and the overall state of conservation of the property. The report of the mission is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/37COM/documents.

The mission made a number of recommendations on the revision of the Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam project and on the management of the property. As requested by Decision 36 COM 7B.81, the Director-General of UNESCO, in consultation with the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, subsequently endorsed the recommendations of the mission.

On 14 December 2012, on 31 January 2013 and on 28 March 2013, the State Party provided updated reports on the revision of the Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam project in line with the mission recommendations. It also provided details of the proposed routes of the high voltage power lines, of the navigation channel at the Douro entrance, and of the Landscape Master Plan, and preliminary studies for the revision of the Management Plan as well as a report on the overall state of conservation of the property with comprehensive annexes including an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Heritage Impact Study on the power lines.

a)  Overall state of conservation and management

The mission highlighted the fact that the property is vulnerable to incremental changes, to infrastructure development and to the lack of appropriate planning and management structures.

The mission considered that the revision and update of the Management Plan was of the utmost priority. The mission furthermore considered that the revised Management Plan should make special provisions for relevant documents, including the National Plan for the Douro River Basin, and the National Programme of Dams of High Hydroelectric Power Potential. The revision process for the Management Plan is currently underway.

Following the mission’s recommendations, the State Party informed that it has undertaken measures to clarify and reinforce the role of the management body, the so-called Douro Mission Structure (EMD). A Douro Mission Advisory Committee was established in December 2012 engaging 32 institutions involved in the management of the region, including the national authorities concerned. The Douro Mission Advisory Committee mandated the EMD to coordinate the overall management of the property and the revision of the Management Plan.

The State Party has also confirmed that the process to revise the Management Plan was launched on 18 March 2013.

b)  Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam Project

The State Party has ensured that the pace of the construction works has remained slow since the last Committee’s Decision, and as requested by the Director-General of UNESCO. A timetable for the completion of the dam construction was provided indicating the steps until the beginning of commercial operation scheduled for the third quarter of 2016.

The State Party informed that 60% of the works on the navigation channel have been completed and that they are currently suspended until the start of the dry season. It further informed that small scale simulations of future flow conditions have been undertaken that have confirmed the results of previous studies of fluvial hydraulics. Based on these findings, it has been determined that the Foz Tua Dam would be compatible with the navigability of the River Douro. In addition, already existing submerged rocky outcrops at the mouth of Tua River would be removed in order to ensure safe navigation conditions.

The State Party further submitted a scoping study for the EIA, including a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), for the high voltage transmission lines. While three out of nine alternative solutions were retained after the HIA, the Commission for Environmental Assessment has requested that the EIA be developed for all alternatives previously proposed and additional ones suggested by the Commission. The EIA is expected to be completed in Summer 2013 and will then be submitted to the authorities for evaluation and opened for public consultation with a view to issuing the Environmental Impact Statement to allow construction works for the power line to start in 2014.

A Landscape Master Plan has been developed for the entire area of the Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam project. It includes both an overall vision of the landscape protection and concrete proposals for action and mitigation measures.

c)  Other issues

 

While recognizing that the property is inscribed under cultural criteria only, the mission noted that in relation to natural values of the project area the EIA drawn up in 2007 and approved in 2009, did not take into account two important facts. Firstly, the Management Plan of the property, provided by the State Party at the time of the property’s nomination, noted that some areas (including the Foz Tua Dam project area) are declared National Ecological Reserve (REN). These REN are defined by the State Party as biophysical structures which integrate the various systems which are subject to special protection due to their value and/or ecological sensitivity or because of their exposure or susceptibility to natural risks. Secondly, in Article 1 of the Management Plan’s “Normative Guidelines”, the alteration of river margin morphology and the partial or total destruction of riparian vegetation are considered prohibited actions. Both these points should have been priority considerations in the EIA, but the mission noted that this did not appear to have been the case. 

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN reactive monitoring mission concluded that the OUV of the property has not been irreversibly affected by the Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam project as amended following the recommendations of the mission, and that the overall state of conservation of the property is satisfactory but vulnerable to incremental change and to infrastructural projects.

 

In order to address these issues, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the following actions need to be taken to strengthen the protection and management of the property: 1. To ensure the operational stability of the reinforced management entity EMD, finalize the revised Management Plan as a matter of priority; 2. Abstain from large infrastructure projects within the boundaries of the property; 3. Provide as a matter of urgency the EIA for the proposed high voltage transmission lines; and 4. Suspend further excavation of the navigation channel until hydraulic studies have been finalized and demonstrate that the lay-out of the proposed navigation channel is satisfactory in respect to its impact on the flow of the River Douro.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.79
Alto Douro Wine Region (Portugal) (C 1046)

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.81 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Takes note of the conclusions and recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN reactive monitoring mission, and thanks the Director-General of UNESCO for endorsing the recommendations of the mission;

4.  Notes with satisfaction the comprehensive documentation provided by the State Party in response to the mission’s recommendations;

5.  Requests the State Party to continue to implement the recommendations of the joint reactive monitoring mission regarding the Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam project and in particular to:

a)  Provide the Environmental Impact Assessment for the high voltage transmission lines by 1 September 2013 to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any decision on their trajectory is taken,

b)  Suspend further excavation of the navigation channel until hydraulic studies have been finalized and demonstrate that its lay-out is satisfactory in respect to its impact on the flow of the River Douro;

6.  Also requests the State Party to submit the revised World Heritage Management Plan of the Alto Douro Wine Region by 1 February 2014 for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

7.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above.

Draft Decision:  37 COM 7B.79

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.81, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Takes note of the conclusions and recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN reactive monitoring mission, and thanks the Director-General of UNESCO for endorsing the recommendations of the mission;

4.  Notes with satisfaction the comprehensive documentation provided by the State Party in response to the mission’s recommendations;

5.  Requests the State Party to continue to implement the recommendations of the joint reactive monitoring mission regarding the Foz Tua Hydro-Electric Dam project and in particular to:

a)  Provide the Environmental Impact Assessment for the high voltage transmission lines by 1 September 2013 to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any decision on their trajectory is taken,

b)  Suspend further excavation of the navigation channel until hydraulic studies have been finalized and demonstrate that its lay-out is satisfactory in respect to its impact on the flow of the River Douro;

6.  Also requests the State Party to submit the revised World Heritage Management Plan of the Alto Douro Wine Region by 1 February 2014 for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

7.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above.

 

Report year: 2013
Portugal
Date of Inscription: 2001
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
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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