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Ha Long Bay

Viet Nam
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Industrial areas
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Population growth;
  • Increased tourism pressure and development;
  • Urban and industrial development;
  • Lack of financial and technical resources;
  • Absence of an integrated planning approach.
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2013

Total amount provided to the property (recently): USD 100,000 under the Youth Volunteers for Cultural Heritage Preservation project (2003-2006); USD 519,000 for Cua Van Floating Cultural Centre, a component of the Ha Long Ecomuseum (funded by the Government of Norway, for the period of 2003-2006).

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 5 (from 1996-2007)
Total amount approved : 133,395 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 28 March 2013 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, providing an overview of progress made in addressing a number of ongoing projects within and adjacent to the property as well as the State Party’s response to Decision 35 COM 7B.20, adopted at the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee (UNESCO, 2011).

a)  Urban and industrial development

The State Party reports that several projects within the buffer zone of the property have been completed including Lan Be – Cot 8 sea ringroad, Lan Be – Bai Tho Mountain sea ringroad, Cai Lan Port expansion project and Cam Pha Cement Plant construction. The report from the State Party notes that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) were approved and their recommendations implemented for each of these projects and that water quality indicators (including for heavy metals, coliform, total suspended solids, pH, oil, turbity and oxygen demand) remain within the limit of Viet Nam’s standards for coastal waters. However, the EIAs or detailed specific information on the impacts of these developments on the property’s OUV, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in Decision 33 COM 7B.20, were not provided.

The State Party also notes that measures continue to be taken to address pollution from commercial and domestic waste and wastewater, but recalls that these are difficult to implement due to the legislative framework of the property and surrounding area. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that an integrated planning approach is needed to address the continuing pressures on the property from water pollution emanating from nearby urban and industrial development. They recall the World Heritage Committee’s request in Decision 33 COM 7B.20 that no development having a significant direct or indirect impact on the OUV of the property take place.

b)  Tourism management

The State Party reports that there are usually 450 tourist vessels on the property at any one time, 150 of which are equipped with overnight accommodation facilities. It also reports that tourist activities are mainly concentrated in the core area of the property. Investment continues in the maintenance and upgrading of tourism facilities including strengthening the system of signs and information boards in regards to the values of the property. The State Party also reports that the Ha Long Management Department has been instructed to develop the Ha Long Bay Tourist Management Plan for 2013 – 2015, and that the Ha Long Bay Management Department has developed a plan for sustainable use of the Cua Van Cultural Centre (CVCC) from 2013 – 2015, listed as Annexes to the State Party report, but not included in the version received by the World Heritage Centre. As such it remains unclear whether the plan for CVCC includes an assessment of a possible relocation to a less sensitive location in the buffer zone of the property, as recommended by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN acknowledge the State Party’s continued efforts to minimize tourism pressure on the property while continuing to develop tourism opportunities. However, reports received by IUCN indicate that unregulated tourism boats operating in the bay, increasing influx of visitors and an absence of operating regulations contribute to undesirable impacts from tourism in the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN remain concerned that this has lead to a market saturated with irresponsible tour operators unconcerned with environmental issues. Reports received by IUCN indicate that the provincial government has established a tourism inspection force with the involvement of inspectors and police in the tourism, environment, transport and construction departments. However, these reports also indicate that this decision has yet to receive support from tourism enterprises and residents of fishing villages.

c)  Absence of an integrated planning approach;

In relation to the Committee’s request to further reinforce the Ha Long Bay Management Board (HLBMD), the State Party reports continued efforts to strengthen management and capacity. It outlines a number of efforts to address Management Planning of the property including a Heritage Management Plan 2011 – 2015, the Quang Ninh Province Aquaculture Master Plan 2015,  the Ha Long Bay Tourist Management Plan 2013 – 2015, the Ha Long Bay Management Plan 2011 – 2015, and the Ha Long Bay Preservation and Promotion Planning 2020. The State Party notes its intention to request international assistance to carry out a Management Effectiveness Evaluation in line with the “Enhancing our Heritage” toolkit, as recommended by the Committee at its 33rd and 35th sessions.

d)  Other conservation issues – population growth

The State Party report details current levels of population within the property as 2400 people in over 600 households in 3 key fishing villages but does not specifically address population growth and efforts to address this issue in areas surrounding the property or within its boundaries. The State Party reports on actions to limit impacts from the existing population including collection of domestic waste, construction of a participatory recirculation system, with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and efforts to encourage career change for resident fishermen. 

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

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that a number of development projects outside the boundaries of the core zone of the property, but within the buffer zone, have been completed. They also note that monitoring of water quality has shown that standards have remained well within legally accepted levels within the property. Based on this information, they conclude that these projects do not appear to have affected the property’s OUV, as recently defined in the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (Decision 36 COM 8E, Saint-Petersburg, 2012). However, they regret that the State Party did not submit Environmental Impact Assessments for these developments as requested by the Committee at its 33rd (Seville, 2009) and 35th (UNESCO, 2011) sessions.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee welcome the various management plans recently developed and currently under development to address these issues, however they consider that the development of individual management plans does not represent an integrated management approach, and therefore makes it extremely difficult to successfully address these multiple pressures in the long term. In that regard, they recommend that the Committee welcome the State Party’s intention to request international assistance to conduct a Management Effectiveness Evaluation in line with the “Enhancing our Heritage” toolkit.  They expect that the Enhancing our Heritage methodology, if properly carried out, will be a good opportunity to engage the various planning stakeholders in a medium-term effort to devise more integrated planning approaches.

Based on the recently adopted retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for this property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN are of the view that the principal features of the property are not significantly threatened at this time. However, the aesthetic values linked to limestone islands dispersed in the sea risks being undermined by: i) excessive and uncontrolled tourism activities and ii) by water pollution from nutrient loading and solid waste emanating from coastal activities, and iii) water pollution by solid and organic wastes emanating from the floating villages and aquaculture activities within the property. They note that these threats, along with continued pressure from population growth and tourism represent an on-going risk to the property and require constant vigilance.

Therefore, they recommend the Committee to encourage the State Party to invite a IUCN reactive monitoring mission to assist the State Party with the design of an action plan for the implementation of an integrated management of the property. The Enhancing Our Heritage Tool kit methodology should provide the framework for the design of the action plan. The mission could ensure that the action plan is the result of a comprehensive stakeholder consultation round with all relevant government agencies and concludes with concrete recommendations, including time schedule, for the establishment of an integrated management of the property by 2015. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.16
Ha Long Bay (Viet Nam) (N 672bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.20 adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.  Notes that the State Party is yet to submit the plan for the sustainable use of the Cua Van Cultural Centre, and requests the State Party to submit this and other recently developed management related plans to the World Heritage Centre and urges the State Party to expedite any measures included in the plan to ensure sustainable use of the Centre and to limit tourism impacts on the property;

4.  Welcomes the efforts made by the State Party to develop a number of management plans to address the multiple development, population and tourism pressures affecting the property, but also notes that these do not represent an integrated management approach of the property and its buffer zone, without which it will be extremely difficult to address these pressures over the long-term;

5.  Also welcomes the State Party’s intention to request international assistance to undertake a Management Effectiveness Evaluation for the property, in line with the ‘Enhancing our Heritage’ tool kit;

6.  Regrets that the State Party did not provide Environmental Impact Assessments on the impacts of the landfill and other major developments recently completed within the buffer zone of the property, but further notes that water quality within the property is reported to be well within national standards;

7.  Also urges the State Party to ensure that visitor regulations are effectively enforced to limit impacts from tourists in key areas in order to reduce visitor pressure on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value whilst enhancing visitor’s quality experience;

8.  Requests the State Party to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property before the 38th session of the Committee in 2014, in order to assist the State Party with the design of an action plan for the implementation of an integrated management of the property and its buffer zone and assess progress in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee at its 33rd (Seville, 2009) and 35th (UNESCO, 2011) sessions;

9.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , a report on the state of conservation of the property, including a report on the outcome of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation for the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Draft Decision:  37 COM 7B.16
The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.20 adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.  Notes that the State Party is yet to submit the plan for the sustainable use of the Cua Van Cultural Centre, and requests the State Party to submit this and other recently developed management related plans to the World Heritage Centre and urges the State Party to expedite any measures included in the plan to ensure sustainable use of the Centre and to limit tourism impacts on the property;

4.  Welcomes the efforts made by the State Party to develop a number of management plans to address the multiple development, population and tourism pressures affecting the property, but also notes that these do not represent an integrated management approach of the property and its buffer zone, without which it will be extremely difficult to address these pressures over the long-term;

5.  Welcomes the State Party’s intention to request international assistance to undertake a Management Effectiveness Evaluation for the property, in line with the ‘Enhancing our Heritage’ tool kit;

6.  Regrets that the State Party did not provide Environmental Impact Assessments on the impacts of the landfill and other major developments recently completed within the buffer zone of the property, but further notes that water quality within the property is reported to be well within national standards;

7.  Also urges the State Party to ensure that visitor regulations are effectively enforced to limit impacts from tourists in key areas in order to reduce visitor pressure on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value whilst enhancing visitor’s quality experience;

8.  Requests the State Party to invite a reactive monitoring mission to the property to be conducted by IUCN before the 38th session of the Committee in 2014, in order to assist the State Party with the design of an action plan for the implementation of an integrated management of the property and its buffer zone and assess progress in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee at its 33rd (Seville, 2009) and 35th (UNESCO, 2011) sessions;

9.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including a report on the outcome of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation for the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

 

Report year: 2013
Viet Nam
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
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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