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Canaima National Park

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
Factors affecting the property in 1999*
  • Major linear utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Conflicts between the Pemons communities and the National Guard

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 1999
Requests approved: 1 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 1999**

1998: UNESCO / IUCN mission

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: At its twenty-first session (Naples, 1997) the Committee expressed its concern over threats due to a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across this Park. At its twenty-second session (June 1998), the Bureau learned that the President of Venezuela had re-affirmed his Government’s commitment to protect the site and had welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to evaluate the power-line construction project and to determine the boundaries of the site. At its twenty-second extraordinary session (November 1998), the Bureau learned that an IUCN-Centre mission to Venezuela, including a site visit to Canaima, foreseen for August 1998 had to be postponed. In the meantime, IUCN had received several reports from indigenous people living in the Gran Sabana and the Imataca areas expressing their strong concerns over the future of this site. IUCN pointed out that although the Committee’s deliberations had revolved around the construction of the power line serious attention needs to be given to other plans to open up the fragile ecosystem of this Park and the Imataca rainforest to large-scale mining, tourism and logging concessions. A second invitation extended by the Permanent Delegation of Venezuela to UNESCO to field a site visit as soon as possible had to be delayed once again because the Office of the UN Resident Representative in Caracas, Venezuela, indicated that it would not be able to issue security clearance for the mission until 9 December 1998. At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), 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 was obtainable. IUCN suggested that the Committee’s recommendation, made at the time of the inscription of the site (December 1994), i.e. 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. 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.

New information: A Centre/IUCN expert mission has been issued security clearance by the UN Resident Co-ordinator’s Office in Caracas, Venezuela, for a visit to Caracas and Canaima from 19 to 24 May 1999. The Terms of Reference for the mission have been derived from the Committee’s recommendation made at the time of the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List in 1994. The mission will consult with the Government and other stakeholders to determine the boundaries of the World Heritage site in order to strengthen the conservation of the Tepui portion of the nomination. In addition, the mission will assess threats to the site's integrity arising from the proposed power line construction project. IUCN has pointed out that a number of NGOs have raised the following concerns which threaten the integrity of the site: (i) potential land ownership conflicts between the Government and indigenous peoples resident within the boundaries of the Park; (ii) extensive incursion of cattle into the savannah areas; and (iii) increasing, large-scale tourism businesses in the area.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to examine new information that the Centre/IUCN mission is expected to make available at the time of its session and take appropriate decisions thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

Twenty-second session of the Committee – Chapter VII. 26

Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV. 44 

 

New information: The full report of the UNESCO/IUCN mission to the site was presented to the last session of the Bureau which noted and endorsed the following recommendations made by the mission team:

1.             to encourage the State Party to submit a request for technical assistance to organise and implement a national workshop on Canaima National Park;

2.             to request the Government to provide increased support to the National Park Institute (INPARQUES) and the Ministry for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (MARNR) and to explore ways to enhance the institutional capacity of these institutions;

3.             that MARNR and INPARQUES should give maximum priority to establishing a buffer zone around Canaima National Park, including Sierra de Lema;

4.             to recommend that an adequate follow-up to the implementation of the missions Short Term Action Plan, including the possible revision of the boundaries of the site, be implemented;

5.             to invite the State Party to submit annual progress reports on the state of conservation of this site; and

6.             to recommend that the State Party creates mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders interested in the conservation and management of this area.

IUCN has recently received information on new conflicts between the Pemons communities and the National Guard in the Gran Sabana area related to the construction of the power transmission line that will cross the indigenous peoples’ territories.  The Pemons are protesting against an article released in the national press media on a supposed accord between the Venezuelan corporation implementing the power line transmission project (CVG) and the Pemons on an agreement to continue implementing this project.  The Pemons have thrown down a number of poles erected on their lands and are requesting further discussion on this with the President of Venezuela.  Tension is rising between the National Guard and the Pemons on this issue.  IUCN is concerned about the impact that this conflict could generate to the integrity of this site.  At the time of the preparationof this document, a technical co-operation request had been received from the Venezulian authorities.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1999
23 BUR IV.B.44
Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

At its twenty-first session (Naples, 1997) the Committee expressed its concern over threats due to a proposal to erect a series of power transmission lines across this Park. At its twenty-second session (June 1998), the Bureau learned that the President of Venezuela had re-affirmed his Government’s commitment to protect the site and had welcomed the possibility of a UNESCO mission to evaluate the power-line construction project and to determine the boundaries of the site. At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), 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 was obtainable. 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.

A Centre/IUCN expert mission has been carried out to Caracas and Canaima National Park from 19 to 24 May 1999. The Terms of Reference for the mission had been derived from the Committee’s recommendation made at the time of the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List in 1994. The mission consulted with the Government and other stakeholders to determine the boundaries of the World Heritage site in order to strengthen the conservation of the Tepui portion of the nomination. In addition, the mission assessed threats to the site's integrity arising from the proposed power line construction project. The mission report was presented to the Bureau in information document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.18.

IUCN informed the Bureau of the conclusions of the mission:

(a)      posts rather than transmission line towers were installed to minimise impacts. IUCN however considers that the transmission line should not have been allowed to penetrate into the Park, but recognised that this was not possible because of an area under dispute between Venezuela and Guyana; although the transmission line is not compatible with the objectives of Canaima National Park, it constitutes a localised impact, is distant from tourism areas and does not have any significant impact on the outstanding universal value of the site;

(b) some expansion of mining activities outside Las Claritas remain a potential threat;

(c) there is no evidence of deforestation; and

(d) tourism impacts, especially around Canaima Lake need a plan for sustainable tourism.

IUCN recommended that the boundaries of the World Heritage area should be the same as those of Canaima National Park and as there are strong ecological links between the Tepuis and the Gran Sabana. IUCN also drew the attention of the Bureau to the Short Term Action Plan as developed by the mission and the State Party.

The Observer of Venezuela thanked the Centre and IUCN for the mission to the site and expressed the commitment of her Government to fully protect the outstanding universal values of the site. Her statement is included in Annex V.

The Bureau noted and endorsed the recommendations made by the mission team as contained in the information document, in particular:

(1) to encourage the State Party to submit a request for technical assistance to organise and implement a national workshop on Canaima National Park;

(2) to request the Government to provide increased support to the National Park Institute (INPARQUES) and the Ministry for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (MARNR) and to explore ways to enhance the institutional capacity of these institutions;

(3) that MARNR and INPARQUES should give maximum priority to establishing a buffer zone around Canaima National Park, including Sierra de Lema;

(4) to recommend that an adequate follow-up to the implementation of the missions Short Term Action Plan, including the possible revision of the boundaries of the site;

(5) to invite the State Party to submit annual progress reports on the state of conservation of this site;

(6) to recommend that the State Party creates mechanisms to promote dialogue between all   relevant stakeholders interested in the conservation and management of this area. 

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)

23 COM XV.4.1
International Assistance for Natural Heritage approved by the Bureau

The Committee took note that the following eight requests for international assistance for natural heritage had been approved by the Bureau for a total of US$ 265,700.

1.AFRICA(a).I KENYA Preparatory assistance

Preparation of nomination for «Great Rift Valley Lakes System» incorporating Lake Nakuru and the Naivasha National Park and Lake Bogoria National Reserve

US$ 30,000 requested US$ 30,000 approved

The Committee noted that the amount approved is conditional to the State Party providing a detailed explanation on the potential cultural heritage values of the area being considered for nomination, to be reviewed by ICOMOS.

1.AFRICA(b).I NIGER Emergency assistance

Emergency rehabilitation plan for Air & Tenere Natural Reserves

US$ 75,000 requested US$ 75,000 approved

The Bureau approved the amount of US$ 75,000 requesting the World Heritage Centre to explore obtaining cost savings in the purchase and delivery of the four-wheel drive vehicle. The Bureau invited the State Party to include information on the progress made in implementing all projects financed by the World Heritage Fund in the report on the state of conservation on this site included in the List of World Heritage in Danger to be submitted to the twenty-fourth session of the Committee in 2000 (Chapter X, paragraph 10).

1.AFRICA(c).I TANZANIA Training assistance

Three fellowships for African specialists in protected area / wildlife management for the academic year 2000-2001

US$ 30,000 requested US$ 30,000 approved

The Bureau approved US$ 30,000, requesting the World Heritage Centre to report to its twenty-fourth extraordinary session, any cost savings and other benefits accrued through the implementation of this fellowship project through the UNESCO Fellowship Unit.

1.AFRICA(d).I TANZANIA Technical Co-operation

Workshop for strengthening research and monitoring capacity for natural world heritage sites in Tanzania

US$ 30,000 requested US$ 30,000 approved

The Bureau recommended that the State Party closely involve its GEF focal points in the planning and organization of the workshop and to ensure that the proposal developed as an outcome of the workshop meet GEF financing criteria.

1.ARAB(a).I MOROCCO Preparatory assistance

Nomination of Atlas Mountain Nature Reserve

US$ 15,000 requested US$ 15,000 approved

This request for US$ 15,000, normally eligible for approval by the Chairperson, was approved by the Bureau in accordance with paragraph 110(a) of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

1.ASIA(d).I JAPAN Technical Co-operation

Support to 7 participants from China (1), Indonesia (2), India (1), Nepal (1) and Vietnam (1) to attend the Kagoshima International Conference on World Natural Heritage, Kagoshima and Yakushima Island World Heritage site, 18-22 May 2000

US$ 25,700 requested US$ 25,700 approved

1.LATIN(c).I BRAZILTraining assistance

Implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela

US$ 30,000 requested US$ 30,000 approved

The Bureau authorized the Chairperson to approve the release of funds subject to the receipt of the revised proposal incorporating all comments and suggestions made by IUCN

1.LATIN(c).II VENEZUELA Training assistance

Workshop for stakeholders concerned with the conservation of Canaima National Park

US$ 30,000 approved

The Bureau authorized the Chairperson to approve the release of funds subject to the receipt of the revised proposal incorporating all comments and suggestions made by IUCN.

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

“The Bureau recalls the recommendation from the mission report (presented to its twenty-third session) on the need to create mechanisms to promote dialogue between all relevant stakeholders, including the Pemon communities, and on the conservation and management of this area.  The Bureau recommends that an Action Plan be developed by the State Party as soon as possible to follow up on the recommendations of the mission.”

Report year: 1999
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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