Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1994
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
1998: World Heritage Centre advisory mission; 1999, 2001, 2004: joint World Heritage Centre, IUCN and Ramsar missions (Doñana 2005 expert meetings on Hydrological Restoration of Wetlands); January 2011: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission and Ramsar advisory mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014
On 28 January 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, a summary of which is available online at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/documents/. In addition, information was received from other sources, in particular NGOs, and sent to the State Party for comments.
The State Party report outlines, among others, the following progress in addressing concerns raised by the World Heritage Committee:
Information submitted by NGOs and sent to the State Party reports that the dredging plans for the Guadalquivir estuary have not been officially abandoned but have been included for implementation in the National Budget. Further information concerns measures under the revised so-called “Strawberry Plan” to legalise illegal water extraction, and a new irrigation scheme for existing rice paddies upstream from the property on the banks of the Guadalquivir River. The project design, which includes construction of a pipeline underneath the river, implies a further reduction in freshwater inflow to the Guadalquivir estuary. Finally, a dam construction project on the Guadiamar River, one of the main tributaries of the Guadalquivir, has been reported.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
It is recommended that the Committee welcome the encouraging data provided by the State Party on the recovery of populations of bird species and the Iberian Lynx, as well as progress reported by the State Party in relation to a number of other concerns previously raised by the Committee, and the confirmation that no deepening dredging work has commenced on the Guadalquivir River. However, the information provided by NGOs that dredging plans for the Guadalquivir estuary have not been officially abandoned should be noted.
The State Party made a statement that Doñana aquifer is in good state but pointed out that the Guadalquivir Basin Water Plan refers to the Outline of Important Themes document (Esquema de Temas Importantes; ETI), approved in 2010 and available online, which classifies the Doñana aquifer as being in a “bad state”, on the basis of declining water levels. Significant declines in water levels outside the property are also reported by the State Party, leading the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to consider that the Doñana aquifer is under significant pressure. The information received on several other projects, which could further limit water availability in the property, is also noted. Of particular concern are reported measures foreseen in the revised “Strawberry Plan” to legalize agricultural fields in the property’s surroundings, which are irrigated from illegal boreholes, rather than to implement regulations combatting illegal water use.
If confirmed and implemented, the new irrigation scheme for existing rice paddies upstream from the property could seriously add to the adverse impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to not implement these plans before their potential impact on the property has been thoroughly assessed through an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) that conforms with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and this ESIA is submitted for review to the World Heritage Centre in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
If confirmed and implemented, a dam on the Guadiamar River could also potentially have adverse impacts on the OUV of the property, including the conditions of integrity.
The possible reopening of the mine of Aznalcóllar announced on the website of the government of Andalucía should also be noted. Although the mine is located at some distance from the property, its upstream location and proximity to the Guadiamar River could cause a major potential impact on the property’s OUV in case of a toxic spill, such as the one that occurred in 1998 (http://www.juntadeandalucia.es/economiainnovacioncienciayempleo/pam/aznalcollar/Aznalcollar.action).
Finally, the necessary authorizations for gas projects in the vicinity of the property have been suspended pending an assessment of cumulative impacts. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to include a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property in further impact assessments, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.
In view of the above, the Committee may request the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Guadalquivir River Basin, including specific consideration of issues related to water use, and agricultural, industrial and commercial development, in order to consider the long-term actions needed to address any adverse impacts on the OUV of the property.
The above-mentioned threats, in particular over-extraction of water from the Doñana aquifer could represent a potential danger to the property’s OUV, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite an IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property, if possible together with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, to assess its state of conservation, and the various threats to its OUV, in particular in relation to agricultural activities, the management of the Guadalquivir River and estuary, and the various emerging development projects, including gas projects, mining, and dam construction.
Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7B.79
The World Heritage Committee,