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Gough and Inaccessible Islands

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Factors affecting the property in 1999*
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Management systems/ management plan
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1999
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1999**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

Nineteenth session of the Committee – Chapter VIII. 4


New information: IUCN notes that an article in the New Scientist of 31 July 1999 stated that the United Kingdom Government was neglecting the Gough Island World Heritage site, mainly through the lack of policing of industrial fishing vessels illegally fishing for tuna and swordfish.  It notes: “The waters around the island are frequently invaded by industrial fishing vessels” and that “ the vessels illegally hunt tuna and sword fish using drift nets and long-lines.”  Concerns are also noted about the absence of policing and monitoring and in relation to birds being accidentally killed by fishing lines and nets while foraging.  The New Scientist notes that the British Government bought a fisheries patrol vessel after the island was designated a World Heritage site but that it does not have the range to patrol Gough Island from its base on Tristan de Cunha.

IUCN has received several reports, including from its Antarctic Advisory Committee (AAC), noting that the island is well managed.  There appears to be ongoing concern over long-line fishing in the waters around Gough Island, but that it is occurring outside the boundaries of the World Heritage site.  The reports suggest that, even if the UK Government could enforce strict controls on all fishing within the 200 nautical mile EEZ around the islands, it would not totally prevent the problem, as the affected birds forage much further than even the 200 nautical miles, even while breeding.  On the terrestrial front, Gough Island is managed according to the management plan and there are relatively few problems.  In August 1999 a comprehensive report from the environmental observer to Gough Island was submitted to IUCN.  The report details: preventative measures to be taken against the introduction of alien species; outlines actions to be taken to maintain the area; and lists the status and recommendations relating to the operations in the logistic zone (i.e., waste control, response to fuel spillage, management regulations on entry to the reserve and fishing, and conservation awareness).

One issue that emerged last year was the insurgence of the weed sagina cf. procumbens which was believed to have been transported from Marion Island where there was a problem with this plant.  A specialist will be visiting the site this year to assess the extent of the invasion and attempt to eradicate it.  Also a two-year inventory of invertebrate communities, begun in September 1999, will give better insight into this fauna, and the impact mice have had on the island.  IUCN notes that the boundaries of the Gough Island Wildlife Reserve area lie three nautical miles out to sea, since this was the extent of territorial waters when the Tristan Conservation Ordinance of 1976 and the Wildlife Reserve were promulgated.  Subsequently, territorial waters in the Gough-Tristan group were extended to 12nm.


Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1999
23 COM X.B.28
State of conservation reports of natural properties noted by the Committee

X.28 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/6) included as Annex VIII to this report. Additional observations made during the Committee session are reflected below.

Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)

Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)

Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)

The Delegate of Australia thanked IUCN for the consultative process started, which could be a model for other State Parties. He also informed the Committee that the area of marine protection around Macquerie Island had been extended and now comprises 16 million ha, the world's largest highly protected marine zone.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)

Los Katios National Park (Colombia)

The Delegate of Colombia informed the Committee that a visit by a delegation from the Ministry for Environment to Los Katios was recently carried out. The visit included areas that were previously not accessible. He emphasized that the proposal to grant collective land ownership over 100,000ha would be outside the Park in the buffer zone. He commented that his Government would be pleased to receive the visit of the monitoring mission to this site in 2000. The Colombian authorities have enhanced transboundary co-operation with Darien National Park (Panama) and strengthened the protected area system.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

The Observer of the United States underlined his Government's role in safeguarding Galapagos Islands and congratulated the Government of Ecuador on progress made. He noted the landmark decision of the Galapagos Law and questioned whether it had been implemented, in particular concerning the forty-mile zone. The Secretariat informed the Committee that some threats related to illegal fishing have been reported. IUCN noted the implementation of this pioneering legislation is vital and specific regulations need to be developed and implemented as soon as possible. The Delegate of Ecuador provided information from the Ministry of Environment noting progress concerning control of introduced species and general improvements in relation to biodiversity conservation at the site. Concerning the control of the 40-mile zone, she stated that the law has not yet been implemented, but that the basis for the conservation and environmental control is there. She thanked the Committee for all its efforts to safeguard the Galapagos.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Mount Kenya National Park (Kenya)

Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)

The Observer of Nepal expressed his gratitude for the international support for the important project on tourism carried out at Sagarmatha National Park. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that it is a ground-breaking project.

Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand (New Zealand)

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)

The Delegate of Thailand noted the raised serious concerns raised by the Bureau regarding the management of this site, given the decline in numbers of the Arabian Oryx and the fact that the boundary marking and management planning is long overdue for completion. He recalled that the Committee inscribed the site without legislation and management plan in December 1994. He highlighted the Operational Guidelines in relation to the deletion of properties. The Delegate of Benin noted that rigour was not always applied in the past years and that a number of sites would not have been accepted if they were presented today. Concerning the question of deletion, a site would be put first on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Delegate of Thailand made it clear that he had not proposed the deletion of the site from the World Heritage List and that he was totally aware of the modalities in that respect. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that similar problems concerned a number of sites and that these issues would certainly be dealt with by the periodic reporting process. IUCN pointed out that it had consistently raised concerns about this site. IUCN noted that legislation does not have effect if there is not sufficient resources for its implementation. The Chairperson reminded the Committee members about the rarity of Arab natural sites on the List. In concluding, the Chairperson thanked the Committee for the debate and noted that awareness needs to be raised in countries about the World Heritage Convention, its obligations and World Heritage values to be preserved for future generations, in particular among decision-makers. He thanked the Delegate of Thailand for his statement and encouraged the Committee to further reflect on how to enhance the protection of World Heritage sites.

Huascaran National Park (Peru)

Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)

The Observer of Russia requested that the information provided during the adoption of the report of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau on this site be included in the Bureau report.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda)

Gough Island (United Kingdom)

Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)

The Bureau may wish to adopt the following text and transmit it to the Committee for noting:

“The Bureau recommends that the State Party encourages the St. Helena Government (of which Tristan and Gough are dependencies) to expand the boundaries of the Gough Island Wildlife Reserve to 12nm.  Following that, the Bureau recommends that the UK Government should consider extension of the World Heritage boundary and to report on what it can do to protect the wider marine environment.”

Report year: 1999
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 23COM (1999)

* : 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.