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Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

Honduras
Factors affecting the property in 1999*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Land conversion
  • Storms
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Extreme pressure with the invasion of refugees and settlers into the Reserve;
  • Illegal tree felling;
  • Poaching;
  • Road construction; 
  •  Patuca II hydro power project .
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1999
Requests approved: 7 (from 1982-1996)
Total amount approved : 198,000 USD
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee recalled that the State Party is in the process of implementing an eleven-point corrective action plan for this site since 1996. A management plan for the site is being elaborated as part of a project financed by GTZ-KFW (Germany) and supported by a contribution of US$ 30,000 from the Fund. The Committee learned that a proposed hydroelectric development project (Patuca II), to be implemented near the Reserve, could open new access roads to the Reserve, reduce downstream water flow and quality, and result in the loss of scenic and bio-diversity values. The Committee noted that indigenous peoples living in and around the Reserve had complained to IUCN about the Government’s efforts to expedite the implementation of this project, the lack of consultation and transparency in the preparation of an EIA for the project and a plan for opening a new road. The Committee was concerned that communications with the Honduran authorities have become difficult due to damage caused to the country’s infrastructure by Hurricane Mitch and information on the extent of hurricane damage to this site was urgently needed. Moreover, the Committee requested that the State Party invite a site visit by IUCN and the Centre to prepare a detailed state of conservation report on Rio Platano for submission to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.

New information: A report from the Regional Vice-Chair of IUCN/WCPA has advised that flooding of the Patuca River, at the time when Hurricane Mitch impacted the site, has destroyed a great deal of vegetation and wildlife as well as settlements. However, more precise information on impacts on the natural heritage values of the site is needed to plan rehabilitation measures. IUCN’s Regional Office for Meso-America is promoting a project to assess the impact of Hurricane Mitch on protected areas in the region, including World Heritage sites, with a view to obtaining baseline data necessary to prepare and implement restoration plans. The Centre is in contact with the staff of the GTZ-KFW conservation project for Rio Platano and with the Permanent Delegation of Honduras to UNESCO to obtain more information on the Patuca II project and the extent of damage caused to Rio Platano by Hurricane Mitch.

Previous deliberations: The Secretariat informed the Committee at its twenty-second session of damage caused by Hurricane Mitch to some World Heritage properties in Central America. The Committee requested the Secretariat, jointly with the advisory bodies, to provide a full report on the conditions of the World Heritage in the region of Central America to the twenty-third session of the Bureau.

New information: The Secretariat requested IUCN and ICOMOS to prepare such a report.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to reiterate the Committee’s request to the State Party to consider inviting a Centre/IUCN mission to the site in 1999. Furthermore, the Bureau may recommend that the Centre and IUCN continue to cooperate with the State Party to obtain detailed information concerning the Patuca II project and baseline data on the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in order to plan rehabilitation measures. The Bureau may wish to recommend that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Bureau may wish to examine the report that will be provided at the time of its session and take the appropriate decision thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous delibertions:

Twenty-second session of the Committee – paragraph number VII.8 Twenty-third session of the Bureau – paragraph number IV.7

New information: The State Party has provided the Centre with a 9-minutes video on the state of conservation of the site. The video has been transmitted to IUCN for review. However, the State Party has not yet responded to the recommendation of the last session of the Committee (Kyoto, Japan, 1998), reiterated by the twenty-third session of the Bureau held from 5 to 10 July 1999, to invite an IUCN/Centre mission to the site. IUCN has informed the Centre that some reports it has received question as to whether the Patuca II hydro power project will get approval for its implementation. The damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 appears to have revived concerns over the ecological vulnerability of the area where the hydro power project has been proposed and raised doubts regarding the feasibility of the project’s implementation. An EIA of the Patuca II project has been carried out but it has been criticised by a number of national NGOs and local people’s organisations. Nevertheless, the National Enterprise on Electric Energy continues to stress the need for Patuca II and has even begun to speculate on the possibility of a Patuca III project.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1999
23 BUR IV.A.7
Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)

The Committee, at its last session (Kyoto, 1998), had recalled that the State Party is in the process of implementing an eleven-point corrective action plan for this site since 1996. A management plan for the site is being elaborated as part of a project financed by GTZ-KFW (Germany) and supported by a contribution of US$ 30,000 from the Fund. The Committee learned that a proposed hydroelectric development project (Patuca II), to be implemented near the Reserve, could open new access roads to the Reserve, reduce downstream water flow and quality, and result in the loss of scenic and bio-diversity values. The Committee noted that indigenous peoples living in and around the Reserve had complained to IUCN about the Government’s efforts to expedite the implementation of this project, the lack of consultation and transparency in the preparation of an EIA for the project and a plan for opening a new road. The Committee was concerned that communications with Honduran authorities had become difficult due to damage caused to the country’s infrastructure by Hurricane Mitch and information on the extent of hurricane damage to this site was urgently needed. Moreover, the Committee had requested that the State Party invite a site visit by IUCN and the Centre to prepare a detailed state of conservation report on Rio Platano for submission to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.

The Bureau was informed that the flooding of the Patuca River, at the time when Hurricane Mitch impacted the site, has destroyed a great deal of vegetation and wildlife as well as settlements. However, more precise information on impacts on the natural heritage values of the site is needed to plan rehabilitation measures. IUCN’s Regional Office for Meso-America is promoting a project to assess the impact of Hurricane Mitch on protected areas in the region, including World Heritage sites, with a view to obtaining baseline data necessary to prepare and implement restoration plans.   The Bureau noted that the Centre is in contact with the staff of the GTZ-KFW conservation project for Rio Platano and with the Permanent Delegation of Honduras to UNESCO to obtain more information on the Patuca II project and the extent of damage caused to Rio Platano by Hurricane Mitch.

The Bureau reiterated the Committee’s request to the State Party to consider inviting a Centre/IUCN mission to the site in 1999. Furthermore, the Bureau recommended that the Centre and IUCN continue to co-operate with the State Party to obtain detailed information concerning the Patuca II project and baseline data on the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in order to plan rehabilitation measures. The Bureau recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

23 COM X.A.8
SOC: Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)

X.8 Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)

The Committee was informed that the State Party has not yet responded to the recommendation of the last session of the Committee (Kyoto, Japan, 1998), reiterated by the twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau held from 5 to 10 July 1999, to invite an IUCN/Centre mission to the site. IUCN has informed the Centre that some reports it has received question whether the Patuca II hydro power project will get approval for its implementation. The damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 appears to have revived concerns over the ecological vulnerability of the area where the hydro-power project has been proposed and raised doubts regarding the feasibility of the project's implementation. An EIA of the Patuca II project has been carried out but it has been criticized by a number of national NGOs and local people's organizations. Nevertheless, the National Enterprise on Electric Energy continues to stress the need for Patuca II and has even begun to speculate on the possibility of a Patuca III project. IUCN also informed the Committee that logging and illegal grazing by domestic stock are also issues that need to be addressed by the authorities concerned.

The Committee retained this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requested the Centre to contact the State Party and obtain detailed information on the Patuca II project, including a copy of the EIA that has been prepared. Furthermore, the Committee reiterated its request made at its last session in Kyoto (1998) that the State Party consider inviting a Centre/IUCN mission to the site.

The Committee may wish to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee may request the Centre to contact the State Party and obtain detailed information on the Patuca II project, including a copy of the EIA that has been prepared. The Committee may request, once again, that the State Party invite a Centre/IUCN mission to the site.

Report year: 1999
Honduras
Date of Inscription: 1982
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1996-2007, 2011-present
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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