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Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

India
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • Civil unrest
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Land conversion
  • Other Threats:

    Destruction of Park infrastructures

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Construction of a dam (issue resolved);
  • Bodo people insurgency;
  • Destruction of Park infrastructures; 
  • Illegal removal of vegetation;
  • Poaching
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 2 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved : 165,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**

January 1997: World Heritage Centre mission

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-fourth session of the Committee – paragraph VIII.11
Twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau - paragraph IV.10

New information: IUCN and the Centre are negotiating with the State Party to organise a site visit in May 2001; however, as monsoon rains may begin anytime in May, there is a likelihood of the mission being delayed until October 2001. The Bureau will be updated with regard to progress on this matter at the time of its session.

The security situation in the Sanctuary and surrounding areas are also being given due considerations in determining the preferred timing for the organisation of the mission. IUCN has received reports that indicate continuing insurgency in the area. Alleged in-fighting within the United Liberation Front of Assam is speculated to have caused a movement of insurgents into the Sanctuary in December 2000 from the Bhutan side of the transborder Manas ecosystem. The Chief Minister of Assam has informed the State Assembly that offensive operations against 35 insurgents suspected to have entered the Barpeta district were underway.

IUCN believes that poaching continues to be a significant threat to key wildlife species in the Sanctuary; e.g. populations of rhino, elephants and swamp deer. The construction of a road through the Bhutan side of the Manas ecosystem has increased significantly traffic and access to the core areas of Manas World Heritage site of India.

Despite the above-mentioned concerns, IUCN notes that the efforts of Forest Department and village communities have led to the establishment of 25 "Manas Bandhu" ("Friends of Manas") groups. These groups of young volunteers from the villages around the Sanctuary have been conducting awareness campaigns and contributing to conservation work. A Forest Department Workshop on Wildlife Conservation conducted in September 2000 at Bansbari Range to explore possibilities of co-operation between these volunteer groups and NGOs, generated self-employment opportunities for some local villagers and increased people's support for the conservation of Manas.

Manas is also a pilot site included in the UNESCO/IUCN/UNF-UNFIP project entitled: "Enhancing our heritage: monitoring and managing for success in World Natural Heritage sites". As part of the project a site-specific monitoring regime, including indicators and benchmarks tracking the state of conservation of the site and which could signal the time of removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger, will be elaborated and tested over a 4-year time frame.

Action Required

The Bureau urges the State Party, Centre and IUCN to organize the field visit as early as possible and submit a detailed report to the twenty-fifth session of the Committee in December 2001. The Bureau welcomes the co-operative approach of the Forest Department to solict the support of local communities for conservation and welcomes and encourages the work of the "Manas Bandhu" groups. The Bureau reiterates the urgent need for Bhutan's ratification of the Convention so as to allow for transborder co-operation between India and Bhutan in the conservation of the Manas World Heritage site of India. The Bureau requests the Director-General of UNESCO to invite His Majesty, the King of Bhutan to ratify the World Heritage Convention as early as possible.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Principal issues:

Rehabilitation following damage to infrastructure in 1992 due to rebel activities. Poaching on selected wildlife species.

New information:

At its twenty-fifth session in June 2001, the Bureau had noted that mission to this site had been postponed from May to October 2001 due to climatic reasons. Despite regular contacts with the State Party and agreements of all parties concerned the proposed mission has been delayed again and is now scheduled for February 2002. Security risks in the area continue to prevail. Due to uncertainties associated with the organization of field visits to this site, the management of the UNESCO/IUCN/UNF-UNFIP Project"Enhancing our heritage: monitoring and managing for success in World Natural Heritage Sites" decided to substitute Manas with the Keoladeo National Park as one of the three pilot sites for the project in South Asia (the other two sites being Kaziranga National Park of India and the Royal Chitwan National Park of Nepal). Negotiations with the State Party for the organization of the February 2002 mission are underway.

The Embassy of Bhutan in Geneva, Switzerland, has contacted the World Heritage Centre to enquire of the process of ratification of the World Heritage Convention. These enquiries follow from the Centre’s co-operation with its contacts in Bhutan, particularly WWF-Bhutan and WWF-USA, to encourage the Government of Bhutan to ratify the Convention to enable trans-border collaboration in the management of the World Heritage site of Manas Wildlife Sanctuary of India and the possible nomination of the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan as World Heritage.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 BUR V.38-41
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India)

V.38       The Bureau was informed that the IUCN/Centre mission to the site, foreseen for May 2001, is now postponed until October/November 2001 due to climatic and security related reasons. IUCN has received reports that indicate continuing insurgency in the area. Alleged in-fighting within the United Liberation Front of Assam is speculated to have caused a movement of insurgents into the Sanctuary in December 2000 from the Bhutan side of the transborder Manas ecosystem. The Chief Minister of Assam has informed the State Assembly that offensive operations were underway against 35 insurgents suspected to have entered the Barpeta District.

V.39       The Bureau noted the view of IUCN that poaching continues to be a significant threat to key wildlife species in the Sanctuary, e.g. populations of rhino, elephants and swamp deer. The construction of a road through the Bhutan side of the Manas ecosystem has significantly increased traffic and access to the core areas of Manas World Heritage site of India. However, IUCN also noted that the efforts of the Forest Department and village communities have led to the establishment of 25 "Manas Bandhu" ("Friends of Manas") groups. These groups of young volunteers from the villages around the Sanctuary have been conducting awareness campaigns and contributing to conservation work. A Forest Department Workshop on Wildlife Conservation conducted in September 2000 at Bansbari Range to explore possibilities of co-operation between these volunteer groups and NGOs, generated self-employment opportunities for some local villagers and increased people's support for the conservation of Manas.

V.40       The Bureau learnt that Manas is also a pilot site included in the UNESCO/IUCN/UNF-UNFIP project entitled: "Enhancing our heritage: monitoring and managing for success in World Natural Heritage sites". As part of the project a site-specific monitoring regime, including indicators and benchmarks tracking the state of conservation of the site and which could signal the time of removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger, will be elaborated and tested over a 4-year time frame.

V.41       The Bureau urged the State Party, Centre and IUCN to organize the field visit as early as possible and submit a detailed report to the twenty-fifth session of the Committee in December 2001. The Bureau welcomed the co-operative approach of the Forest Department to solicit the support of local communities for conservation and encouraged the work of the "Manas Bandhu" groups. The Bureau encouraged the site authorities to co-operate with their counterparts in the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan to curtail illegal activities threatening wildlife populations within the World Heritage site. The Bureau however, reiterated the urgent need for Bhutan's ratification of the Convention and requested the Director-General of UNESCO to invite His Majesty, the King of Bhutan to ratify the World Heritage Convention as early as possible.

The Committee may wish to adopt the following:

"The Committee expresses its concerns over continuing posponement of the planned mission to this site and urges that the State Party, the Centre and IUCN attempt to field the mission in February 2002 as foreseen. The Committee recommends that a detailed report on the state of conservation of the site and the implementation of rehabilitation measures accepted by the Bureau in 1997 be submitted to its twenty-sixth session in June 2002. The Committee urges the Centre to co-operate with Bhutan to ensure its early ratification of the Convention and solicit its co-operation for the protection of the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary of India. The Committee decides to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger".

Report year: 2001
India
Date of Inscription: 1985
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1992-2011
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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