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Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors and the lack of maintenance

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning
  • Erosion
  • Lack of established boundaries and buffer zone
  • Absence of a conservation and management plan
  • Encroachments and urban pressure
  • Tourism pressure (particularly at Portobelo)
  • Insufficient legislation for the preservation of built heritage and regulations combining the two components of the property
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning
  • Erosion
  • Lack of established boundaries and buffer zone
  • Absence of a conservation and management plan
  • Encroachments and urban pressure
  • Tourism pressure (particularly at Portobelo)
  • Insufficient legislation for the preservation of built heritage and regulations combining the two components of the property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 4 (from 1980-1993)
Total amount approved : 76,800 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

November 2001: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2010: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission. February 2014: ICOMOS Advisory mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 30 January 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/documents/ 

2014 was an election year in the Republic of Panama and a period of administrative change in government administration, including heads of the public entities that manage historical heritage. This caused a low execution rate of conservation works on the site. The remaining yearly budget assigned for the execution of the emergency plan was found insufficient. The new director and deputy director in the National Direction of Historical Heritage had to familiarize themselves with the case but reached conclusions similar to those indicated in the report of the ICOMOS Advisory Mission of February 2014.

In response to the seven points of paragraph 5 of Decision 38 COM 7A.20, the State Party reports:

  • The Law 30 of 18 November, 2014 provides support to the Patronato de Portobelo y San Lorenzo with funds from the government for the maintenance, conservation and restoration of the property.
  • Collaboration is being sought with the Patronato de Panama Viejo for advice on management arrangements and training of staff.
  • The clarification of the boundaries of the component parts of the property has not presented significant progress in 2014.
  • The preparation of the Portobelo’s District Territorial Plan is in its final stage, as developed by the Ministry of Housing. Its completion is expected by the end of 2015.
  • Technical assistance for the implementation of the Emergency Plan is provided by the University of Alcalá de Henares, Spain.
  • The new Territorial Plan of Portobelo contemplates the implementation of infrastructure planning and environmental improvement of the site. It includes the construction of new sewers, and a new system of garbage disposal.
  • The National Directorate of Heritage has in its archives technical studies conducted at the property since the decade of 1980. In more recent years there have been soil studies in the area of the fortifications of Santiago, San Fernando, San Geronimo and the San Lorenzo Castle Fort. A Risk Assessment Study was developed in 2013, as well as a photogrammetric survey on all the cannons found in the area of the fortifications in the Portobelo Bay and in the Castle Fort of San Lorenzo. It is expected that in 2015, the National Directorate will reinforce its cooperation with the Patronato de Portobelo y San Lorenzo to strengthen management capacities at the property.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

The adoption of the UNESCO World Heritage Management Plan (September 2013) and the Emergency Plan (March 2014) were crucial steps forward and constitute appropriate frameworks for action. The endorsement by the new administration of these plans and earlier recommendations, and commitment to their implementation are welcomed. However, overall there are very serious delays in the implementation of the corrective measures and timeframe adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and funding for the implementation of these measures, including for the Emergency Plan and the Management Plan, remains insufficient.

As to the replies provided by the State Party on the seven points of paragraph 5 of Decision 38 COM 7A.20, it is observed that:

  • While the National Institute for Culture (INAC) is responsible for the national cultural heritage (Law 14, 1982), the management of the site was entrusted to the Patronato de Portobelo y San Lorenzo. Law 30 (2014) defines that a yearly budget will be allocated to the Patronato for its administration, operation and activities. The updating of legislative and regulatory measures and definition of the functions of the Patronato remains necessary.
  • According to the ICOMOS Advisory Mission of 2014, the Patronato counts with one architect and four workers, but no technical office with adequate capacities, has been established at the site level. The strengthening of management arrangements and the creation of a technical office remain pending.
  • No significant progress on the definition of the boundaries is reported.
  • The Territorial Plan for Portobelo is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. An analysis of this plan should be undertaken to assess if it meets the requirements defined in the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR).
  • The national (Patronato Panama Viejo) and international (Universidad de Alcalá de Henares) cooperation should be welcomed.
  • Once the Territorial Plan is finalized by the end of 2015, an analysis should be undertaken to assess in how far it will respond to the recommendation regarding environmental degradation and deficiencies in infrastructure services that are impacting cultural and natural heritage assets.
  • Clarification should be provided if available studies and documentation are sufficient in response to the recommendation on studies on deterioration processes.

While the State Party presents detailed reports on the activities for conservation and consolidation and for the maintenance of green areas undertaken in 2014, no clearly established and detailed work plans, timeframes and budgets have been presented for the implementation of the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at the time of the inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Progress in the implementation of the corrective measures scheduled for year 1 (up to September 2013), is highly insufficient and it may be reasonably expected that the measures for the two-three year period (scheduled for conclusion by September 2015) will be equally seriously delayed.

The ICOMOS Advisory Mission of February 2014 made a comprehensive set of recommendations and highlighted the fast rate of decay of the historic fabric that continued to threaten the integrity and authenticity of the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and there remains very serious concern that under the present conditions the state of conservation may further deteriorate.

It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to draw up a strategy, detailed work plans, timeframes and budgets for the full implementation of the corrective measures within a three-year period, with due consideration of the set of recommendations of the 2014 Advisory Mission; and that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7A.46
Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) (C 135)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.20, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Appreciates the endorsement by the new administration of previous approaches and recommendations to reach the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and welcomes its commitment to its implementation;
  4. Recalls that the timely implementation of the corrective measures defined at the time of inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger is an essential requirement for achieving the DSOCR;
  5. Regrets the very serious delays in the implementation of the recommendations expressed in Decision 38 COM 7A.20 and of the corrective measures referred to above and expresses its very serious concern that this may cause irreparable damage to the property and the attributes that sustain the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Urges the State Party to draw up a strategy, detailed work plans, timeframes and budgets for the full implementation of the corrective measures within a three-year period, with due consideration of the set of recommendations of the 2014 Advisory Mission, and to take all the necessary legal, managerial and budgetary provisions for their implementation and requests it to submit these documents by 1 February 2016 for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;
  8. Decides to retain the Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
39 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of the World Heritage in Danger

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-15/39.COM/7A and WHC-15/39.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 39 COM 7A.38)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 39 COM 7A.39)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 39 COM 7A.18)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosi (Decision 39 COM 7A.44)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.1)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 39 COM 7A.45)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.3)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.4)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.5)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.8)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 39 COM 7A.24)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.10)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 39 COM 7A.40)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 39 COM 7A.41)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.20)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 39 COM 7A.15)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 39 COM 7A.25)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 39 COM 7A.26)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 39 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 39 COM 7A.11)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 39 COM 7A.21)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 39 COM 7A.22)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 39 COM 7A.12)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 39 COM 7A.28)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 39 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 39 COM 7A.46)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 39 COM 7A.47)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.13)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 39 COM 7A.42)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 39 COM 7A.16)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 39 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 39 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 39 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 39 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 39 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 39 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 39 COM 7A.23)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 39 COM 7A.43)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.14)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.17)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 39 COM 7A.48)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 39 COM 7A.37)
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.46

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.20, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Appreciates the endorsement by the new administration of previous approaches and recommendations to reach the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and welcomes its commitment to its implementation;
  4. Recalls that the timely implementation of the corrective measures defined at the time of inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger is an essential requirement for achieving the DSOCR;
  5. Regrets the very serious delays in the implementation of the recommendations expressed in Decision 38 COM 7A.20 and of the corrective measures referred to above and expresses its very serious concern that this may cause irreparable damage to the property and the attributes that sustain the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Urges the State Party to draw up a strategy, detailed work plans, timeframes and budgets for the full implementation of the corrective measures within a three-year period, with due consideration of the set of recommendations of the 2014 Advisory Mission, and to take all the necessary legal, managerial and budgetary provisions for their implementation and requests it to submit these documents by 1 February 2016 for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016;
  8. Decides to retain the Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2015
Panama
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iv)
Danger List (dates): 2012-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 39COM (2015)
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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