1.         Doñana National Park (Spain) (N 685bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(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/685/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

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.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/685/

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:

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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

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.

Decision Adopted: 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.