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Canaima National Park

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Factors affecting the property in 1998*
  • Major linear utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Project to erect a series of power transmission lines
  • Need to finalize the boundaries of the area
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1998
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1998**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Committee, at its last session (Naples, 1997), expressed its concern with regard to the integrity of the Canaima National Park due to considerable threats posed by a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across the Park. The Committee invited the Director-General to write to the President of the State Party asking his intervention to search for possible alternatives and to determine the appropriate boundaries of the World Heritage site. The Venezuelan Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, wrote a letter to the Centre on 12 March 1998, explaining the actual situation of the proposed construction of one electrical power line that would pass through a part of the National Park. The letter indicates that: (1) The Ministry for the Environment and the National Parks Institute are in the process of evaluating the Venezuelan South East Project Transmission System; (2) Distinct alternatives of location of this line have been analysed. A decision has been made for choosing an option that will cut across a smaller percentage of the Park. Moreover the alternatives being considered includes the erection of the power transmission lines along the existing Eldorado-Santa Elena de Uairén road as proposed by IUCN, which would minimize the impact of the project on the site; (3) local population interests are being considered in accordance with the existing laws.  The Permanent Delegate of Venezuela has also invited UNESCO to designate a high level mission to visit the site to evaluate the proposals of boundaries that were developed following the recommendations made by the Committee and IUCN.

The President of Venezuela, in his letter of 13 March 1998 to the Director-General has transmitted the Environmental Impact Study on the power transmission line project, which had been finalised in December 1997. He has re-affirmed the commitment of his Government to protect the World Heritage site and the welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to the site.

Action Required
The Bureau requests the Centre and IUCN to co-operate in sending a mission to Caracas and the Canaima National Park in Venezuela to review with specialists and local technicians proposals for alternative routes for the construction of electrical transmission lines and determine appropriate boundaries for the site in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee and IUCN made at the time of inscription of the site in 1994. The Bureau also recommends that a detailed report of the mission be submitted to the twenty-second session of the Committee.


22nd extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1998:

 The Committee at its last session (December, 1997) expressed its concern with regard to the integrity of the Canaima National Park due to considerable threats posed by a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across the Park. At its twentysecond ordinary session (June 1998), the Bureau was informed that the Director-General of UNESCO had transmitted the Committee’s concerns and recommendations to the President of Venezuela. In his response, the President of Venezuela had reaffirmed the commitment of his Government to protect the World Heritage site and welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to the site to evaluate the project and determine the boundaries of the World Heritage site. An IUCN-Centre mission to Venezuela, including a site-visit to Canaima, planned for late August 1998, had to be indefinitely postponed due to a deterioration of security conditions in and around Canaima. In the meantime, IUCN has received several reports from indigenous people living in the Gran Sabana and the Imataca areas expressing their strong concerns over the future of the Canaima National Park. Although the Committee’s deliberations have revolved around the construction of the power line, IUCN has pointed out that serious attention should be given to plans to open up the fragile ecosystem of this Park and the Imataca rainforest to large scale mining, tourism and logging concessions. Furthermore, IUCN recognises that the economic crisis affecting Venezuela is also affecting the Government’s key conservation institutions such as INPARQUES.

The Permanent Delegation of Venezuela to UNESCO, via their letter dated 28 September 1998, has invited the Centre and IUCN to field a site visit as soon as possible.

The Centre has contacted the UN Resident Representative in Caracas, Venezuela, for security clearance and is awaiting a response. IUCN has suggested that the Committee’s recommendation, made at the time of inscription of the site (December 1994), that the Government of Venezuela co-operate with the Centre and IUCN to “initiate a process to review the boundaries of the site, taking into consideration the interests of the local people and the need to focus the nomination on the tepui portion (approximately 2 million ha) of the Park”, be used as a basis for establishing the terms of reference for the mission.

Decision required: The Bureau may wish to transmit the above report to the Committee for examination and recommend the following for adoption:
“The Committee calls upon the Centre and IUCN to field a mission to Canaima as soon as security clearance from the UN Resident Co-ordinator for Venezuela is available.
The Committee agrees with IUCN that the terms of reference for the mission be derived from the recommendations of the Committee made at the time of the inscription of this site on the World Heritage List in 1994.
The Committee requests that the findings of the mission and its recommendation concerning whether Canaima needs to be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger be submitted to the twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau in mid-1999.”

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Committee at its twenty-first session expressed its concern with regard to the integrity of the Canaima National Park due to considerable threats posed by a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across the Park. At its twenty-second session, the Bureau was informed that the Director-General of UNESCO had transmitted the Committee’s concerns and recommendations to the President of Venezuela. In his response, the President of Venezuela had re-affirmed the commitment of his Government to protect the World Heritage site and welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to the site to evaluate the project and determine the boundaries of the World Heritage site. An IUCN-Centre mission to Venezuela, including a site visit to Canaima, planned for late August 1998, had to be postponed due to a deterioration of security conditions in and around Canaima. In the meantime, IUCN has received several reports from indigenous people living in the Gran Sabana and the Imataca areas expressing their strong concerns over the future of the Canaima National Park. Although the Committee’s deliberations have revolved around the construction of the power line, IUCN has pointed out that serious attention should be given to plans to open up the fragile ecosystem of this Park and the Imataca rainforest to large-scale mining, tourism and logging concessions

On 28 September 1998, the Permanent Delegation of Venezuela to UNESCO invited the Centre and IUCN to field a site visit as soon as possible. The Bureau was informed that the UN Resident Representative in Caracas, Venezuela, is unable to provide security clearance for the mission until 9 December 1998. A mission is foreseen for early 1999. IUCN has suggested that the Committee’s recommendation, made at the time of inscription of the site (December 1994 that the Government of Venezuela co-operate with the Centre and IUCN to “initiate a process to review the boundaries of the site, taking into consideration the interests of the local people and the need to focus the nomination on the Tepui portion (approximately 2 million ha) of the Park”, be used as a basis for establishing the terms of reference for the mission.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1998
22 BUR V.B.33
Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

The Bureau recalled that the Committee at its twenty-first session expressed its concern with regard to the integrity of the Canaima National Park due to considerable threats posed by a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across the Park. The Committee invited the Director-General to write to the President of the State Party asking his intervention to search for possible alternatives and to determine the appropriate boundaries of the World Heritage site. The Venezuelan Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, wrote a letter to the Centre on 12 March 1998, explaining the actual situation of the proposed construction of one electrical power line that would pass through a part of the National Park. The letter indicates that: (1) the Ministry for the Environment and the National Parks Institute are in the process of evaluating the Venezuelan South East Project Transmission System; (2) distinct alternatives for the location of this line have been analysed. A decision has been made for an option that will cut across a smaller percentage of the Park. Moreover, the alternatives being considered include the erection of the power transmission lines along the existing Eldorado-Santa Elena de Uairén road as proposed by IUCN, which would reduce the impact of the project on the site; (3) local population interests are being considered in accordance with the existing laws. The President of Venezuela, in his letter of 13 March 1998 to the Director-General of UNESCO, has transmitted the Environmental Impact Study on the power transmission line project, which was finalised in December 1997. He has re-affirmed the commitment of his Government to protect the World Heritage site and welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to the site to evaluate the proposals of boundaries.

IUCN stressed that the power line is of major concern to indigenous people and that a number of letters were received and that the proposed mission should take up this issue, in addition to potential threats to the site. The Observer of Venezuela welcomed a mission to the site and stated that interests of local people have been taken into consideration according to existing laws.

The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to co-operate in sending a mission to Caracas and to Canaima National Park to review with specialists and local technicians, proposals for alternative routes for the construction of electrical transmission lines. It should also determine appropriate boundaries for the site in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee and IUCN, made at the time of inscription of the site in 1994. The Bureau recommended that a detailed report of the mission be submitted to the twenty-second session of the Committee.

22 COM VII.26
SOC: Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

VII.26 Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

The Committee at its twenty-first session expressed its concern with regard to the integrity of the Canaima National Park due to considerable threats posed by a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across the Park. At its twenty-second session, the Bureau was informed that the Director-General of UNESCO had transmitted the Committee's concerns and recommendations to the President of Venezuela. In his response, the President of Venezuela had re-affirmed the commitment of his Government to protect the World Heritage site and welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to the site to evaluate the project and determine the boundaries of the World Heritage site. An IUCN-Centre mission to Venezuela, including a site visit to Canaima, planned for late August 1998, had to be postponed upon instructions from the Resident Representative of UNDP in Venezuela. In the meantime, IUCN has received several reports from indigenous people living in the Gran Sabana and the Imataca areas expressing their strong concerns over the future of the Canaima National Park. Although the Committee's deliberations have revolved around the construction of the power line, IUCN has pointed out that serious attention should be given to plans to open up the fragile ecosystem of this Park and the Imataca rainforest to large-scale mining, tourism and logging concessions.

On 28 September 1998, the Permanent Delegation of Venezuela to UNESCO invited the Centre and IUCN to field a site visit as soon as possible. The Bureau was informed that the UN Resident Representative in Caracas, Venezuela, is unable to provide clearance for the mission until 9 December 1998. A mission is foreseen for early 1999. IUCN has suggested that the Committee's recommendation, made at the time of inscription of the site (December 1994), that the Government of Venezuela cooperate with the Centre and IUCN to "initiate a process to review the boundaries of the site, taking into consideration the interests of the local people and the need to focus the nomination on the Tepui portion (approximately 2 million ha) of the Park", be used as a basis for establishing the terms of reference for the mission.

The Committee called upon the Centre and IUCN to field a mission to Canaima as soon as security clearance from the UN Resident Co-ordinator for Venezuela is available. The Committee agreed with IUCN that the terms of reference for the mission be derived from the recommendations of the Committee made at the time of the inscription of this site on the World Heritage List in 1994. The Committee requested that the findings of the mission and its recommendation concerning whether Canaima needs to be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger be submitted to the twenty-third session of the Bureau in 1999.

The Bureau recommended the Committee to adopt the following:

“The Committee calls upon the Centre and IUCN to field a mission to Canaima as soon as security clearance from the UN Resident Co-ordinator for Venezuela is available. The Committee agrees with IUCN that the terms of reference for the mission be derived from the recommendations of the Committee made at the time of the inscription of this site on the World Heritage List in 1994. The Committee requests that the findings of the mission and its recommendation concerning whether Canaima needs to be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger be submitted to the twenty-third session of the Bureau in 1999.”

Report year: 1998
Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
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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