Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Philippines) (N 652rev)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1999
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/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 53,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/652/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
December 2014: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Illegal occupation
- Need for a clear zoning scheme and regulations for appropriate tourism development within the property and its vicinity
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:
- Demarcation on the ground of the boundary has resulted in an area of 21,826 ha, a slight reduction compared to the 22,202 ha defined in Presidential Proclamation No 212 of 1999;
- Land sales and illegal resort development are issues of ongoing concern. Requests for development approval within the property appear to be continuing. New constructions were observed in a number of locations;
- A clear zonation scheme is required for the management of existing resorts and regulation of new resort developments and of agricultural activities within and around the property. No apparent progress has been made in defining the zonation of the property;
- Significant progress had been made in the Survey and Registration of Protected Area Occupants (SRPAO), which was expected to be completed by December 2014. The SRPAO would subsequently allow for clarification regarding illegal occupants and on-going Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claims (CADC) within the boundaries of the property;
- The maximum number of allowable visitors per day has been increased from 900 to 1200, but remains below the limit of 1400 recommended in a study on the tourism carrying capacity of the property. The mission was provided with a summary of the study, but not the full report;
- A new wharf is proposed to replace the current wharf at Sabang, which would also act as a centre for tourism management;
- No integrated management plan for tourism appears to have been developed for the property despite significant and annual increases in tourist numbers. The State Party informed the mission that tourism management is being included in the revised Management Plan, which was to be completed by December 2014;
- While a significant improvement in management of the property appears obvious since the new park management took up office, management effectiveness remains an issue for the property;
- There have been no detected incidents of illegal wildlife trade and hunting in the property since the current management assumed office.
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,
- Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.70, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- Also requests the State Party to fully implement the recommendations of the 2014 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, notably:
- 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,
- 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:
- Developing regulations for appropriate tourism development within and adjacent to the property,
- Mapping of current land ownership and use within the property to inform any approval of future land sales,
- 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,
- Take urgent measures to improve the property’s management effectiveness, including:
- Provide adequate and secure resources including staff to the management authority to implement management actions,
- 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,
- Address impacts from high intensity tourism by developing and implementing a detailed, integrated, extensive and long-term tourism management plan,
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.