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Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

Honduras
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Financial resources
  • Human resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Illegal settlements;
  • Illegal livestock grazing and agricultural encroachment;
  • Illegal logging;
  • Illegal commercial fishing;
  • Poaching;
  • Alien invasive species;
  • Management deficiencies;
  • Potential impacts from hydroelectric development projects Patuca I,II and  III;
  • Lawlessness;
  • Lack of law enforcement;
  • Lack of clarity regarding land tenure and access to natural resources;
  • Deforestation.
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Illegal logging;
  • Illegal occupation;
  • Lack of clarity regarding land tenure
  • Reduced capacity of the State Party;
  • General deterioration of law and order and the security situation in the region.
Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4439

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Not yet identified
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2014

Total amount granted: USD 80,000 (in addition to approximately USD 100,000 of in-kind technical assistance) under the management effectiveness assessment project “Enhancing our Heritage”. 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 7 (from 1982-1996)
Total amount approved : 198,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 17 February 2014, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documentsand lists the following:

  • A management plan for the Biosphere Reserve was updated in 2013, including an ambitious conservation plan that identified conservation objectives, threats and strategies. However, management effectiveness of the Biosphere Reserve is still considered relatively low;
  • The clarification of the boundaries of the property has not progressed. The State Party refers to the International Assistance n°2570 submitted in December 2012. After evaluation, IUCN recommended that the request be revised and submitted under Preparatory Assistance, for the preparation of either a minor boundary modification or a re-nomination. This evaluation was transmitted to the State Party in June 2013 and no further progress has been reported.
  • Systematic monitoring to identify encroachment and land use changes has increased and several illegal occupants have been removed. However, considerable illegal deforestation within the property and the buffer zone still poses a threat;
  • The procedure of land titling was officially published in the Honduran Gazette in 2012 andseveral indigenous communities have received community land titles over their ancestral lands inside the property. Additional arrangements were implemented that allowed local communities without land titles to use the natural resources legally.
  • Steps have been taken to strengthen stakeholder coordination through the reinforcement of an ad-hoc inter-ministerial committee for the conservation of the Biosphere Reserve. Currently, a stakeholder analysis is being undertaken to explore options for future formal co-management arrangements with a range of relevant government institutions and civil society.
  • The State Party submitted a draft proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) on 6 May 2014, which is currently being reviewed by IUCN.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

The information provided by the State Party that some progress is being made with regard to several of the corrective measures is well noted, particularly in terms of systematic monitoring, land titling and the formalization of resource use agreements. The State Party’s intention to minimize potential negative environmental impacts of hydropower projects, and its commitment to avoid construction of dams with a capacity higher than 15 MW and to implement mitigation measures for the existing constructions should also be emphasized. However, the State Party does not provide more information on the status of the Patuca III dam and its potential downstream impacts, including indirect and long-term impacts on the property, which were not adequately assessed in the original Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of this project. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to assess such potential impacts in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.

There has also been some progress in strengthening the interministerial ad-hoc committee and the development of opportunities for a formal co-management arrangement in the future. Nevertheless, indigenous co-management regimes require further strengthening. In addition, the updated management plan and the ambitious associated conservation plans are encouraging steps towards improved management planning. However, it is considered that the property continues to face a shortage of human, financial and material resources, which is likely to be a significant factor in the property’s overall low management effectiveness, as reported by the State Party. This is of particular concern in light of the increasing negative impacts on the property and its wider region from drug trafficking and associated illegal activities, including forest conversion and degradation reported in numerous recent media articles.

Of overarching importance in addressing the issues mentioned above is the need to reassess the property’s boundaries in light of significant changes to the boundaries and zonation of the original Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, which would be an opportunity to identify boundaries that better encompass the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Resolving this issue will contribute to the future implementation of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and to the adequate implementation of the corrective measures. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN stand ready to provide technical support to the State Party in this regard. In light of the above, it is recommended that the Committee retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7A.33
Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) (N 196)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.18, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Welcomes the progress achieved by the State Party with the development of a draft proposal for the Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, to finalize the proposal for the DSOCR for examination by the Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  4. Also welcomes the State Party’s efforts to implement the corrective measures, and the progress achieved, in particular with the establishment of a systematic monitoring platform, the on-going process of land titling for communities surrounding the property, and the strengthening of the ad-hoc technical committee for the conservation of the biosphere reserve, and encourages the State Party to continue these efforts, including the development of adequate co-management schemes;
  5. Urges the State Party, as a matter of priority, to advance on the proposal for the property’s boundary modification, without which the corrective measures cannot be adequately implemented and the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) remains at risk, and considers that the resolution of this issue will contribute to the future implementation of the DSOCR;
  6. Takes note of the State Party’s intention to avoid the construction of hydroelectric projects larger than 15 MW in the buffer zone of the biosphere reserve and to minimize the environmental and social impacts of the construction of dams in the Patuca watershed, as expressed in the recently developed Conservation Plan;
  7. Notes with concern that little progress has been made towards increasing human resources and logistical capacity to the agencies responsible for the protection and management of the property;
  8. Also notes with concern that illegal activities, including illegal logging, illegal settlements and drug-related activities, continue to impact on the property, and strongly urges the State Party to deal swiftly and effectively with such incursions to the property and the core zone of the biosphere reserve in full observance of the rule of law;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and on further progress achieved with the implementation of the corrective measures and the clarification of the property’s boundaries, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  10. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
38 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (retained sites)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-14/38.COM/7A and WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 38 COM 7A.14)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 38 COM 7A.15)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 38 COM 7A.31)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.34)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 38 COM 7A.21)
  • Colombia, Los Katíos National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.32)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.35)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.36)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.37)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.38)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.39)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.41)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 38 COM 7A.1)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.43)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 38 COM 7A.16)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 38 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.33)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 38 COM 7A.28)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 38 COM 7A.2)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 38 COM 7A.3)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 38 COM 7A.4)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 38 COM 7A.44)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 38 COM 7A.24)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 38 COM 7A.25)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 38 COM 7A.45)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 38 COM 7A.5)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 38 COM 7A.20)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 38 COM 7A.22)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.46)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 38 COM 7A.18)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 38 COM 7A.29)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 38 COM 7A.26)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 38 COM 7A.19)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.30)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 38 COM 7A.23)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 38 COM 7A.13)

Draft Decision:   38 COM 7A.33

The World Heritage Committee,

  1.   Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add,
  2.   Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.18, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3.   Welcomes the progress achieved by the State Party with the development of a draft proposal for the Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, to finalize the proposal for the DSOCR for examination by the Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  4.   Also welcomes the State Party’s efforts to implement the corrective measures, and the progress achieved, in particular with the establishment of a systematic monitoring platform, the on-going process of land titling for communities surrounding the property, and the strengthening of the ad-hoc technical committee for the conservation of the biosphere reserve, and encourages the State Party to continue these efforts, including the development of adequate co-management schemes;
  5.   Urges the State Party, as a matter of priority, to advance on the proposal for the property’s boundary modification, without which the corrective measures cannot be adequately implemented and the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) remains at risk, and considers that the resolution of this issue will contribute to the future implementation of the DSOCR;
  6.   Takes note of the State Party’s intention to avoid the construction of hydroelectric projects larger than 15 MW in the buffer zone of the biosphere reserve and to minimize the environmental and social impacts of the construction of dams in the Patuca watershed, as expressed in the recently developed Conservation Plan;
  7.   Notes with concern that little progress has been made towards increasing human resources and logistical capacity to the agencies responsible for the protection and management of the property;
  8.   Also notes with concern that illegal activities, including illegal logging, illegal settlements and drug-related activities, continue to impact on the property, and strongly urges the State Party to deal swiftly and effectively with such incursions to the property and the core zone of the biosphere reserve in full observance of the rule of law;
  9.   Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and on further progress achieved with the implementation of the corrective measures and the clarification of the property’s boundaries, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  10.   Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2014
Honduras
Date of Inscription: 1982
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1996-2007, 2011-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2014) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
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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