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Doñana National Park

Spain
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Crop production
  • Major linear utilities
  • Mining
  • Non-renewable energy facilities
  • Oil and gas
  • Pollution of marine waters
  • Water (extraction)
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    State of the Guadalquivir River and dredging project

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Toxic pollution after mining accident in 1998
  • Agriculture impacts
  • Potential threats from accidental oil spills
  • Potential impacts from infrastructural projects
  • Water issues and water quality
  • State of the Guadalquivir River and dredging project
  • Crop production
  • Major linear utilities
  • Non-renewable energy facilities
  • Oil and gas
  • Pollution of marine waters
  • Water (extraction)
  • Water (rain/water table)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

1998: World Heritage Centre Advisory mission; 1999, 2001, 2004: joint World Heritage Centre, IUCN and Ramsar missions (Doñana 2005 expert meetings on Hydrological Restoration of Wetlands); January 2011: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission and Ramsar Advisory mission; January 2015: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

An IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property, from 14 to 17 January 2015. Subsequently, on 2 February 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, a summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/documents/, together with the mission report. Information on a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in those reports as follows:

  • Dredging to deepen the Guadalquivir River has not commenced and the State Party restates that the World Heritage Centre will be kept informed of any development;
  • A Working Group for the Special Management Plan of the Irrigation Zones located to the North of the Forest Crown of Doñana has been established to prioritize the development of the Guadalquivir Water Plan, which is currently in planning stage two; and a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Guadalquivir Basin has been integrated into the hydrological planning of the river;
  • Functional reclamation of Caño Travieso in 2012-2014 has restored the flow of the Guadiamar River through the marshes in the northern zone of the National Park for the first time in over half a century, and is already attracting bird species, such as flamingos, ducks and cranes;
  • The Government of Andalucía temporarily suspended issuing a Unified Environmental Authorization to Gas Natural Fenosa for gas extraction and storage projects in the immediate vicinity of the property with the potential to impact its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in order to request a more detailed evaluation of the potential cumulative impacts;
  • One international bid has been received for the exploitation of the Aznalcóllar mine, and the State Party emphasizes the need for a rigorous environmental impact evaluation, and restates that the proposal must not include the construction of a slurry hopper or toxic waste disposal.

In a separate letter, dated 25 March 2015, the State Party advised the World Heritage Centre of a statement, issued by the Supreme Court, to declare null and void the dredging project of the Guadalquivir River.

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

It is noted that on 26 February 2015, the Supreme Court of Spain announced that the dredging project to deepen the Guadalquivir River cannot be included in the River Basin Plan. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to make a permanent commitment to cancel the project and not permit any future dredging to deepen the Guadalquivir. Currently, the mission does not recommend the property’s inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, but recommends that the Committee strongly encourage the State Party to make this permanent commitment to cancel the project and not permit any future plans to deepen the Guadalquivir River.

It is noted with appreciation that the State Party announced its decision, in line with Decision 38 COM 7B.79, to temporarily suspend the issuing of a Unified Environmental Authorization for gas extraction and storage projects, which are proposed outside of the World Heritage property but fall within the Doñana Natural Park, until an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with a detailed evaluation of the potential cumulative impacts is prepared.

The Working Group for the elaboration of the Special Management Plan aims to introduce initiatives that will transfer 15 hm3 of surface water to agricultural areas to the north of Doñana Forest Crown. It is recommended that the State Party be requested to submit to the World Heritage Centre the Plan and an EIA, which should include an assessment of potential impacts to the property’s OUV, and to consider the ecological demands of Doñana National Park. Furthermore, recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.79, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to provide a detailed update on the reported increase in water use for rice paddies upstream of the property and reported dam construction on the Guadiamar River.

In 1998, a large holding pool of the Aznalcóllar mine burst, resulting in a toxic spill that significantly affected the areas adjoining the property, hence any decision to re-open the mine is of utmost concern. As it has been made public on the website of the Government of Andalucía, the company México-Minorbis Group has been proposed by the Technical Committee and the Board of Trade as the international mining company to reopen the site of Aznalcóllar, and hence as recognized by the mission, it is recommended that the Committee strongly urge the State Party to ensure that potential impacts to the OUV of the property including, but not limited to, those arising from the use of water by the mine, are assessed in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to ensure that a clear risk preparedness plan and associated resources are in place to enable a rapid response in the case of any accidents.

The findings of the assessment of the condition of the aquifer by Guadiamar River Basin specialists are noted, which concluded that despite annual climatic variations, recharge was stable overall, with some areas even showing a rising trend in groundwater levels. It is nevertheless also noted that the mission reported differing views on this matter and that further research is required to confirm the findings and monitor the state of the Doñana aquifer.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7B.26
Doñana National Park (Spain) (N 685bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.79, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the decision by the Supreme Court of Spain to cancel the dredging project to deepen the Guadalquivir River, and urges the State Party to make a permanent commitment to cancel the project and not permit any future plans to deepen the Guadalquivir River;
  4. Notes with appreciation the temporary suspension to the issuing of a Unified Environmental Authorization for gas extraction and storage projects in the immediate vicinity of the property, until an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with a detailed evaluation of the possible cumulative impacts is prepared, and strongly urges the State Party to ensure that the potential impacts of those projects to the OUV and integrity of the property are thoroughly assessed, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  5. Notes with utmost concern that the company México-Minorbis Group has been proposed by the Technical Committee and the Board of Trade as the international mining company to reopen the site of Aznalcóllar, and therefore also urges the State Party to ensure that a clear risk preparedness plan and associated resources are in place prior to the commencement of mining operations, in order to enable a rapid response in the case of any accidents, and that the potential impact on the OUV of the property is also fully assessed;
  6. Also notes that a Working Group has been established for the elaboration of the Special Management Plan of the Irrigation Zones to the North of the Forest Crown of Doñana, and requests the State Party to submit the Plan and an EIA to the World Heritage Centre, which fully considers the possible impact on the property’s OUV and ensures the ecological needs for the conservation of Doñana National Park are met;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to provide a detailed update on the reported increase in water use for irrigation of rice paddies upstream of the property and reported dam construction on the Guadiamar River and also requests the State Party that further research is conducted to confirm the state of the Doñana aquifer as noted during the mission, and that regular monitoring of the Doñana aquifer be ensured;
  8. Further requests the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2015 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission;
  9. Requests furthermore 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 implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7B.26

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.79, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the decision by the Supreme Court of Spain to cancel the dredging project to deepen the Guadalquivir River, and urges the State Party to make a permanent commitment to cancel the project and not permit any future plans to deepen the Guadalquivir River;
  4. Notes with appreciation the temporary suspension to the issuing of a Unified Environmental Authorization for gas extraction and storage projects in the immediate vicinity of the property, until an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with a detailed evaluation of the possible cumulative impacts is prepared, and strongly urges the State Party to ensure that the potential impacts of those projects to the OUV and integrity of the property are thoroughly assessed, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  5. Notes with utmost concern that the company México-Minorbis Group has been proposed by the Technical Committee and the Board of Trade as the international mining company to reopen the site of Aznalcóllar, and therefore also urges the State Party to ensure that a clear risk preparedness plan and associated resources are in place prior to the commencement of mining operations, in order to enable a rapid response in the case of any accidents, and that the potential impact on the OUV of the property is also fully assessed;
  6. Also notes that a Working Group has been established for the elaboration of the Special Management Plan of the Irrigation Zones to the North of the Forest Crown of Doñana, and requests the State Party to submit the Plan and an EIA to the World Heritage Centre, which fully considers the possible impact on the property’s OUV and ensures the ecological needs for the conservation of Doñana National Park are met;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to provide a detailed update on the reported increase in water use for irrigation of rice paddies upstream of the property and reported dam construction on the Guadiamar River and also requests the State Party that further research is conducted to confirm the state of the Doñana aquifer as noted during the mission, and that regular monitoring of the Doñana aquifer be ensured;
  8. Further requests the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2015 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission;
  9. Requests furthermore 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 implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Report year: 2015
Spain
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(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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