1.         Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Philippines) (N 652rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1999

Criteria  (vii)(x)

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/652/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 53,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/652/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

December 2014: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/652/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

An IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property in December 2014 (mission report available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/652/documents/). No report was requested to the State Party by the Committee at its 38th session. The mission’s findings are reported as follows:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for the significant progress made in the management of the property and in resolving land claims, including in completing the SRPAO. Recognizing that the resolution of land claims is a lengthy process, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue to address the related issues of illegal land sales and illegal resort developments, by developing regulations for appropriate tourism development, mapping current landownership, and continuing and strengthening efforts to engage with local communities to raise awareness and garner support for the conservation of the property.

Efforts by the management staff to control illegal activities including land clearing, illegal logging, and wildlife trade should also be noted. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to enhance inter-agency cooperation both at the provincial and national level of government to continue to address these issues, including through budgetary provisions to the management authority to facilitate increased staffing, patrolling and engagement with local communities.

It is noted that a clear zonation scheme and effective management of the property are key issues that underpin the majority of the threats reported to the Committee. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to develop and implement a detailed management related zoning plan for the property, to allow for the current level and extent of legal occupation, designate appropriate areas for tourism, and ensure that areas of critical habitat are identified and provided with increased levels of protection. This should also include the definition of an appropriate buffer zone to ensure protection of the property.

It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to take urgent measures to improve the property’s management effectiveness, including providing adequate and secure human and financial resources, strengthening cooperation and coordination with all relevant agencies and stakeholders at provincial and national levels, and developing and implementing an integrated long-term tourism management plan. It is further recommended that the State Party be requested to submit the revised Management Plan for the property to the World Heritage Centre and IUCN for review.

Noting the reported proposal for a new wharf at Sabang, it is recommended that the State Party be requested not to proceed with this development until it has been subject to a rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and until the EIA has been submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.16

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.70, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Commends the State Party for the significant progress achieved in improving the management of the property and in completing the Survey and Registration of Protected Area Occupants (SRPAO), which would allow for clarification of on-going land claims, and requests the State Party to submit the report of the completed SRPAO to the World Heritage Centre, along with a report outlining actions taken in the case of illegal occupants and/or land sales;
  4. Notes with appreciation the efforts made by the State Party and local management staff to control illegal activities, including land clearing, illegal logging and wildlife trade;
  5. Notes that clear zonation and ensuring effective management are key to addressing the majority of the issues reported, and reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, an electronic and three printed copies of the revised management plan of the property;
  6. Also requests the State Party to fully implement the recommendations of the 2014 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, notably:
    1. Develop, finalize and submit, for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, a detailed management related zoning plan for the property, to allow for the current level and extent of legal occupation, designate appropriate areas for tourism and to ensure areas of critical habitat are identified and provided with increased levels of protection, including the definition of an appropriate buffer zone to ensure protection of the property,
    2. Continue to address threats from land claims, illegal land sales and illegal developments within the property and resulting threats to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including by:
      1. Developing regulations for appropriate tourism development within and adjacent to the property,
      2. Mapping of current land ownership and use within the property to inform any approval of future land sales,
      3. Continuing and strengthening efforts to engage local people in the process, to ensure awareness of the boundaries and zones of the property and garner support for its conservation, as well as an understanding of the legal basis for current efforts and enforcement decisions,
    3. Take urgent measures to improve the property’s management effectiveness, including:
      1. Provide adequate and secure resources including staff to the management authority to implement management actions,
      2. Strengthen cooperation and coordination with all relevant agencies and stakeholders at the provincial and national levels to contribute to the effective implementation of management actions,
      3. Address impacts from high intensity tourism by developing and implementing a detailed, integrated, extensive and long-term tourism management plan,
    4. Enhance and strengthen inter-agency cooperation, including between provincial and national level authorities, to continue to address the issues of illegal use of resources, transportation, and land sale, including through budgetary provisions to the management authority to facilitate increased staffing, patrolling and engagement with local communities and protected area occupants to garner their support for the continued conservation of the property and its OUV;
  7. Urges the State Party not to proceed with the development of a new wharf at Sabang prior to a rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) having been conducted, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and further requests the State Party, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to submit to the World Heritage Centre a copy of the EIA for review by IUCN;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for review by IUCN.