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Doñana National Park

Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Marine transport infrastructure
  • Mining
  • Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses
  • Water (extraction)
  • Other Threats:

    Decline of the Iberian lynx and Imperial eagle populations

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Toxic flow from a mine holding pool (issue resolved)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – paragraph IV.39
Twenty-third session of the Committee – paragraph X.26
Twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau – paragraph IV.39
Twenty-fourth session of the Committee – paragraph VIII.27 / Annex X page 116.

Main issues: mining spill in 1998.

New information: The Permanent Delegation of Spain informed the Centre that a meeting was foreseen on 20 April 2001 by the authorities concerning the follow-up to the "Donana 2005" Conference.

Action Required
The Bureau reiterates its request that the State Party provide the dates and the programme of the review meeting as soon as possible and to invite IUCN and the Centre to participate in this activity.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Project Doñana 2005: IUCN has received a report on the Doñana National Park, which welcomes the initiation of a number of recommendations from the Project Doñana 2005, but notes that progress continues to be slow despite the importance of this project.  In May 2001 the Project established its Scientific Board, however there has been little scientific input into the Project’s activities.  A new co-ordinator for the project has been appointed and it is expected that this will help to speed up project implementation.  The report notes that some of the recommendations from the October 1999 Seminar are still to be acted upon, for example, in relation to: coordination; definition of public riverine domain; watershed restoration; promotion of sustainable agriculture; development of pilot projects; and prospective studies.


Expansion of the Port of Seville: The information received also noted with concern a proposal to expand the Port of Seville, up the Guadalquivir River and outside the World Heritage site. This project will be funded by sea shipping subventions of the EU.  The project includes the construction of new port facilities, for which it will be necessary to correct the course of the Guadalquivir River, the estuary of which is the west boundary of the World Heritage site. This will require dredging and deepening of the river channel, removing around 9.5 Million cubic meters of sediment that will be dumped in the estuary.  An EIA, prepared for this investment by the Port Authorities of Seville, met with considerable criticism and, as a result, the project was temporarily stopped.  It has been reported in local press that an agreement has been found between the rice farmers of the area and the Guadalquivir Hydrographical Confederation that may help to promote the implementation of the project – e.g.: the inclusion of a sluice to mitigate the effects from new saline intrusions.


IUCN has received detailed information on the state of conservation of the site.  It provides the following information:

1.        Management Plan: The National Park Management Plan is still under discussion and as such is behind the original schedule, however notable progress has been made in the prevention and reduction of possible conflicts with stakeholders, and a new draft is expected to be publicly released soon.

2.        Iberian Lynx: The Iberian lynx is experiencing a major decline in numbers due to the scarcity of its major food source, the rabbit. The lynx population fell from 50 individuals in 1990 to 30 in 2000, with not more than 5 reproducing females (National Census by Pereira & Robles, 2000).  Further, the lynx habitat is being damaged and reduced by overgrazing, by annual pilgrimages, and there is concern with regard to the impact road infrastructure outside the Park is having on the lynx population (since 1982, 25 lynx have been killed by vehicles).

3.        Imperial Eagle: The imperial eagle population has also declined, with only seven territories being occupied in 2000, compared to fifteen in 1988. The electricity line mortality has fallen; however the lack of rabbits, environmental pollution (with effects on fertility) and poisoning continue as the major causes of death outside the Park.

4.        Rocío Pilgrimage: The Rocío Pilgrimage, which takes place twice a year, involves large numbers of pilgrims (1,500,000 in June, 400,000 in September), travelling from their origins to El Rocío village at the northern boundary of the Park. Those originating in the Cadiz Province (south of Doñana) travel two-three days/nights through the Park. The problems faced by the Park are mostly related to garbage, forest fires, and traffic congestion.  However, a small northern stretch of the Park is not fenced and this is where pilgrims from Sevilla pass through.  This northern crossing also lies in the middle of the important lynx habitat, and therefore requires joint control and management by the Park and Regional authorities.  It is reported that a major campaign was launched last year to raise awareness amongst various institutions on the impacts of the pilgrimage on the Park.  Nonetheless, this year's pilgrimage left huge amounts of garbage, and a vandalised Doñana Research Centre. An agreement to reduce traffic on the Rocío-Cádiz route through the Park has been signed after long negotiations.

5.        Grazing: After long negotiations, the Park and livestock holders have approved a Plan for management of grazing, and a Committee has been established to implement it.  To date, no concrete reductions in grazing levels have been achieved, and, as mentioned previously, this is impacting on the restoration project in the Matasgordas.

6.        Road Construction: The impact of road building outside the Park on Doñana and its wildlife populations is of concern. Almost every road in the area has been renewed or enlarged in the last decade, leading to an increase in speed and volume of traffic.  Many of the roads have significant impacts on the migration routes of mammals, including the endangered lynx.

7.        Illegal Water Extraction:  Illegal water extraction for rice, cotton and strawberry farming is occurring on the Northern and Western boundaries of the Park.  This could lead to long term effects, which include degradation of the groundwater body, and drying out of temporary lagoons and ash forests. 

8.        Restoration Plan for Aznalcollar Mine: Environmental organisations and institutions in the area are concerned with the Restoration Plan that Boliden-Apirsa has submitted for the Aznalcollar mine.  Although 76% of the planned restoration work has already been completed, there are concerns with insufficient isolation of the broken tailings dam in the Southern border, an insufficient cover of the rock dumps, and the reliability of data about the water-sludge level in the mining pits, which could effect the groundwater layer in future. Another concern lies with the funding for the required restoration works: Apirsa has declared bankruptcy, Boliden Ltd has denied any responsibility, and no official statement has been made by the Regional Department for Works.

The requested follow-up Conference has been scheduled from 26 to 28 November 2001 in Huelva and UNESCO, IUCN and the Ramsar Convention have been invited to participate. The Bureau therefore may wish to review any new information available at the time of its session and may wish to revise the proposed decision below.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 BUR V.166-167
Doñana National Park (Spain)

V.166     The Observer of Spain informed the Bureau that the follow-up to the "Donana 2005" Conference was foreseen to be organized in Huelva from 26 to 28 November 2001 and that invitations have already been issued. He also provided documentation on the project that was made available to all Bureau members. He stated that the Donana 2005 project was the most ambitious environmental project in Spain to ameliorate the situation of the site following the mining spill, and that a technical group and a scientific committee had been established.

V.167     The Bureau commended the State Party for organizing a follow-up Conference for the Doñana 2005 Conference from 26 to 28 November 2001 with the participation of the Ramsar Convention, IUCN and UNESCO. The Bureau recommended the State Party to give particular importance to this follow-up Conference to finalize the agreements on the administrative and scientific co-ordination required to implement the Doñana 2005 Project. The finalization of the agreement at the 3 May 2001 meeting of the Patronato of Doñana was recognized as an important step for the implementation of this Project.

Reports on SOC of natural properties inscribed noted by the Committee


Reports on the state of conservation of natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List noted by the Committee

Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

Fraser Island (Australia)

The Sundarbans (Bangladesh)

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Gros Morne National Park (Canada)

Nahanni National Park (Canada)

Los Katios National Park (Colombia) 

Caves of the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (Hungary/Slovakia)

The Committee noted that the issues raised concern only the Slovak part of this transboundary site.

Sundarbans National Park (India) 

The Delegate of India informed the Committee that there is no National Waterways Project that is planned or likely to impact this site.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)

The Observer of Indonesia thanked the Australian authorities for their financial assistance. He informed the Committee that it would be difficult to comply with the deadline of 1 February and that a report could be provided by the end of March 2002.

Aeolian Islands (Italy)

The Observer of Italy confirmed that there was a court decision on 4 December 2001, which is not yet public, but that it is hoped to be available soon. She informed the Committee that the collaboration between the autonomous regional Government and the central Government has commenced and that a meeting will take place to find a solution. 

Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania)

The Delegate of Egypt brought to the attention of the Committee the importance of protecting the wetlands, which are known to be important rest places for the migratory birds along their routes. He suggested that the World Heritage Centre should have a plan defining the wetlands, which are important for the birds and to use this information for establishing "satellite" World Heritage sites. IUCN informed of the co-operation between the World Heritage Centre and the Ramsar Convention as well as with Bird Life International for the protection of the wetlands. He also highlighted the importance of the surrounding areas to the World Heritage sites and the links with the Man and Biosphere programme for the protection of the sites. The Secretariat informed of the on-going discussions with the Secretariat of the Convention of Migratory Species to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between these two Conventions.

Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia)

Sian Ka'an (Mexico)

The Delegate of Mexico informed that the confirmation of the Ecological Land-Use Plan is in its final phase and consequently she asked that the deadline for the report requested by the Bureau be set for 15 May 2002 for examination at the twenty-sixth session of the Committee in June.

Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)

Western Caucasus (Russian Federation)

Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation)

Doñana National Park (Spain)

Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast (United Kingdom)

St Kilda (United Kingdom)

Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (United States of America)

Canaima National Park (Venezuela)


The Bureau may wish to adopt the following decision:

“The Bureau commends the State Party on the Doñana 2005 initiative, which provides an excellent framework for integrated land management.  The Bureau notes a number of concerns have been raised in relation to the integrity of this site. Accordingly, the Bureau requests the State Party to provide a full report on the threats to the site, and on how they will be addressed, by 1 February 2002 for consideration by the twenty-sixth session of the World Heritage Bureau (April 2002).  On the basis of this report the Bureau may wish to consider whether or not there is a case of listing this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger”.

Report year: 2001
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)

* : 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.