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Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas

China
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Illegal activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Water infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Apparent decline in wildlife populations

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Apparent decline in wildlife populations
  • Dams and related infrastructure
  • Lack of clarity of property boundaries
  • Mining
  • Inadequate management planning, including tourism planning
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

April 2006 UNESCO/IUCN joint Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2013 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 26 January 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1083/documents. The State Party highlights the following:

  • It stresses the intricate linkages between environmental management, local development and poverty alleviation, as well as the legitimacy of development outside the property and its buffer zones;
  • The notion of direct impacts of any of the 13 proposed dams in the vicinity of the property is rejected on the grounds of their location outside of the property and its buffer zones. It is further suggested that the 2013 Reactive Monitoring mission had concluded that there were no “obvious direct impacts”;
  • No dam construction, including preparatory works, has taken place prior to conducting or reviewing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs);
  • The West-East Electricity Transfer Project (WEEPT) is described as “too complex” for a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to be applied. Therefore, a SEA is foreseen for the province of Yunnan only, to be conducted by the Yunnan Institute of Environmental Sciences (YIES);
  • No legal mining has taken place inside the property since the minor boundary modification approved in 2010, while 106 illegal mining operations have been shut down post inscription. The requested submission of maps displaying permits is therefore deemed unnecessary by the State Party.
  • Wildlife monitoring to inform management, including where changes may be needed to the current management, is to be integrated in the above SEA.

While otherwise reporting in response to Committee decision 37 COM 7B.12, no specific information is provided concerning the implementation of the recommendations of the 2013 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission. In terms of the requested management effectiveness assessment, the State Party mostly refers to management planning and intended consolidation thereof.

The State Party highlights significant investment in human resources, management and infrastructure since the inscription of the property and reaffirms its commitment to further strengthen management, mobilize additional human resources and control poaching.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

The State Party’s commitment to the property and the efforts to ensure coherent management of the 15 protected areas jointly forming the serial property of more than 900,000 ha are fully acknowledged.

In relation to the impacts of the dams on the property, it should be recalled that the Operational Guidelines repeatedly make reference to the potential impacts of development outside of properties and their buffer zones. A serial property inscribed under all natural criteria in particular raises questions of coherence and connectivity among and between the distinct components. Furthermore, the justification for criterion (vii), as confirmed by the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), adopted by the Committee in 2011, states that the “deep, parallel gorges of the Jinsha, Lancang and Nu Jiang are the outstanding natural feature of the property” and “the dominant scenic element in the area”. Therefore, while there is no indication that dams or reservoirs are, or will be, located within the property or its buffer zones, concerns remain about impacts on scenic landscape values in addition to landscape connectivity, as was also expressed by the 2013 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission. It should also be recalled that the mission visited dam sites where construction had started prior to EIA completion. The Wulongnong dam site is one example, where the mission had documented active construction, which is again confirmed in Annex 1 of the State Party report. Another example suggesting a lack of clarity is the Liyuan dam site, where the State Party reports construction, while simultaneously referring to pending EIA approval. Further conclusions about potential direct impacts need to be made on the basis of completed EIAs and further information about future transmission infrastructure. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) should provide additional clarity in that regard. Fully appreciating the challenge to conduct a SEA at the level of WEEPT, the State Party’s willingness to conduct an SEA at the level of Yunnan, as originally recommended by the 2013 mission, is welcome. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN continue to stand ready to facilitate advice and support to the State Party.

In terms of mining, it should be recalled that the 2013 Reactive Monitoring mission found that prospecting licenses were granted between the Hongshan and Haba Snow Mountain components of the property, raising concerns about landscape connectivity. Therefore, the Committee’s request for the State Party to provide maps of all licenses related to mining in the region surrounding the property continues to be relevant and should be followed up on.

While a comprehensive legal framework and many excellent elements of management planning and selective monitoring are in place, a comprehensive management effectiveness assessment (MEA) remains to be fully developed and conducted. Further details regarding what this may include are provided in the mission report. The anticipated inventory of wildlife as part of the SEA should provide a baseline for further systematic and regular wildlife monitoring.

While some progress has been made since the 2013 Reactive Monitoring mission, it is noted that the State Party report provides little information on the implementation of all mission recommendations, and the requests made by the Committee at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013) remain valid, and still need to be fully addressed. This includes, in particular, full consideration of electricity transmission infrastructure, the abovementioned MEA and the unambiguous clarification of the exact location and surface area of all national protected areas, components and buffer zones of the property to enable updating of the partially inaccurate formal documentation of the property, following the appropriate procedures as stipulated in the Operational Guidelines. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to urgently address these issues and report on the progress made.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7B.9
Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas (China) (N 1083bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.12, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s commitment to refrain from granting prospecting and mining licenses in the property and its buffer zones, to respond swiftly and decidedly to illegal mining and to intensify management efforts, including responses to poaching;
  4. Also welcomes the State Party’s readiness to conduct a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to better understand the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of the multiple projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and acknowledges that this is a challenging exercise for which limited guidance and relevant experience is available and which will require the development of an approach that is adapted to the local situation;
  5. Reiterates its concern that the depth and quality of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) appear to be incompatible with the scale and complexity of the planned hydropower development that may affect the property, and that preparatory construction has advanced in the absence of approved EIAs in several locations, as confirmed by the State Party in Annex I to its report;
  6. Notes with concern the slow progress on the implementation of the remaining recommendations of the 2013 Reactive Monitoring mission and urges the State Party to strengthen its efforts to:
    1. Not proceed with project implementation prior to appropriate EIAs having been completed,
    2. Submit maps of all licenses related to mining in the region surrounding the property, and including the area between the Hongshan and Haba Snow Mountain components of the property, to ensure that none overlap with the property,
    3. Ensure and monitor ecological and landscape connectivity in the area between the Hongshan and Haba Snow Mountain components of the property, including areas included in prospecting licenses,
    4. Urgently implement the remaining recommendations of the 2013 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and in particular to:
      1. Give full consideration to the possible impacts of future electricity transmission infrastructure,
      2. Develop and implement a comprehensive management effectiveness assessment (MEA),
      3. Clarify the exact location and surface area of all national protected areas, components and buffer zones of the property and submit this information to the World Heritage Centre;
  7. Requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and with both national and other international partners’ support, to urgently develop and implement measures to address the threats to the property;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the progress made on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7B.9

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.12, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s commitment to refrain from granting prospecting and mining licenses in the property and its buffer zones, to respond swiftly and decidedly to illegal mining and to intensify management efforts, including responses to poaching;
  4. Also welcomes the State Party’s readiness to conduct a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to better understand the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of the multiple projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and acknowledges that this is a challenging exercise for which limited guidance and relevant experience is available and which will require the development of an approach that is adapted to the local situation;
  5. Reiterates its concern that the depth and quality of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) appear to be incompatible with the scale and complexity of the planned hydropower development that may affect the property, and that preparatory construction has advanced in the absence of approved EIAs in several locations, as confirmed by the State Party in Annex I to its report;
  6. Notes with concern the slow progress on the implementation of the remaining recommendations of the 2013 Reactive Monitoring mission and urges the State Party to strengthen its efforts to:
    1. Not proceed with project implementation prior to appropriate EIAs having been completed,
    2. Submit maps of all licenses related to mining in the region surrounding the property, and including the area between the Hongshan and Haba Snow Mountain components of the property, to ensure that none overlap with the property,
    3. Ensure and monitor ecological and landscape connectivity in the area between the Hongshan and Haba Snow Mountain components of the property, including areas included in prospecting licenses,
    4. Urgently implement the remaining recommendations of the 2013 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and in particular to:
      1. Give full consideration to the possible impacts of future electricity transmission infrastructure,
      2. Develop and implement a comprehensive management effectiveness assessment (MEA),
      3. Clarify the exact location and surface area of all national protected areas, components and buffer zones of the property and submit this information to the World Heritage Centre;
    5. Requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and with both national and other international partners’ support, to urgently develop and implement measures to address the threats to the property;
    6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the progress made on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Report year: 2015
China
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
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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