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Doñana National Park

Spain
Factors affecting the property in 2011*
  • Crop production
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Pollution of marine waters
  • Water (rain/water table)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Toxic pollution after mining accident in 1998;

b) Agriculture impacts;

c) Extension of the National Park;

d) Potential threats from accidental oil spills.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2011
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2011**

1998: World Heritage Centre advisory mission; 1999, 2001, 2004: joint World Heritage Centre, IUCN and Ramsar Convention missions (Doñana 2005 expert meetings on Hydrological Restoration of Wetlands). January 2011: World Heritage Centre -IUCN-Ramsar joint reactive monitoring mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

At the time of preparation of this report, only a report in Spanish was received from the State Party on 18 April 2011. The English version of the State Party’s report was submitted on 18 May 2011. As requested by the Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia 2010) in Decision 34 COM 7B.26, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring and Ramsar advisory mission visited, from 19 to 22 January 2011, the Doñana Natural Space (Espacio Natural Doñana), which includes the Doñana National Park World Heritage property and Doñana Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The detailed mission report is available online at the following web address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM.

a) Potential impacts from infrastructural projects

In 2009 and 2010, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN received reports from a number of NGOs concerning the development of infrastructure projects in the vicinity of the property that could have a potential impact on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

Several oil refinery projects are located near the property, including the expansion of the existing La Rábida refinery located to the west of the Doñana Natural Park at the Huelva industrial area. Two minor oil spills linked to La Rábida refinery were already reported by the State Party and included in the working document to the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee. They occurred on 30 July and 15 September 2009 and reached the property’s coastline. The expansion project to increase the refinery’s production capacity has undergone an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which was approved by the Spanish authorities in March 2009. While direct impacts on the OUV of Doñana are unlikely, and in spite of the fact that the report from the State Party of 28 March 2011 notes that measures taken through the modernization of this facility will significantly reduce the risk of spills, in the opinion of the NGOs and experts consulted during the reactive monitoring mission, the risk of accidental oil spills from increased maritime traffic due to this proposed refinery is high. 

A pipeline project for the Balboa refinery located in the Extremadura north of Andalusia is undergoing an EIA process. The Balboa pipeline could potentially affect the property in its section traversing the province of Huelva to the crude-oil and oil product storage terminal in the port of Palos de la Frontera. Originally the developer (Refinería Balboa-Grupo Alfonso Gallardo), suggested seven alternative routes for this crude-oil pipeline of which one could affect the World Heritage property. The final alternative pipeline routes will be analysed in more detail during the preparation of the EIA in order to identify the least environmentally damaging option. In March 2010 IUCN and the World Heritage Centre received information from NGOs that the Spanish administration has requested that no oil pipeline should be authorised that could directly affect Doñana Natural Space. IUCN and the World Heritage Centre consider that this approach will not address the possible indirect impacts of such a pipeline, which could include accidental discharge from the pipeline polluting soil, streams and groundwater, and the high risk of oil spills from potential pipeline accidents and increased maritime traffic linked to the port of Palos, which could cause important impacts to the OUV of the property.

Finally, during the reactive monitoring mission the mission team was informed by a number of NGOs of mining projects further away from the World Heritage property (allegedly in the North East of Andalusia), with potential impacts on the values and integrity of both the natural and national parks of Doñana. In this regard, the State Party report notes that this issue concerns a series of projects in the vicinity of Doñana entailing the construction of new gas extraction sites that, if proven to be technically and environmentally feasible, would be used for underground gas storage where injection and extraction cycles would depend on market supply and demand. As noted by the State Party most of these projects are still undergoing an EIA process.

b) Water issues and water quality

As Doñana is predominantly marshland, water has been and continues to be, despite important advances in its management, the most problematic topic in the management of the property. The intensive extraction of groundwater for irrigation, tied to the fact that this practice is concentrated in certain sites, has caused important lowering of the groundwater table, the reduction of natural recharge and the substitution by artificial recharge, and locally it has favoured salt intrusion, all of which has impacted ecosystems very significantly in some places, be it mainly outside of the property. These and other longstanding problems surrounding the use of water around Doñana are being addressed in the Plan Especial de Ordenación de las Zonas de Regadío, ubicadas al Norte de la Corona Forestal de Doñana (Special Management Plan of the Irrigation Zones Located to the North of the Forest Crown of Doñana) known as the “Plan de la Corona Forestal” which was presented for public consultation on 21 January 2011.

c) State of the Guadalquivir River and dredging project

The Doñana system is intimately associated to the watercourses of the Lower Guadalquivir and the Brazo de la Torre. The action of the tides, in synergy with the flow regime of the Guadalquivir River, determines the ecological integrity of the unique ecosystems that characterize this property. There exist a series of projects that could seriously impact the ecosystem of the Lower Guadalquivir. Among these is the project of the Port Authority of Seville of “Actions to improve the maritime access to the Port of Seville”, which includes, among other, the dredging of the river to eight meters of depth, with the aim of enabling access to the port of Seville of ships with a freeboard length of up to 300 meters and a beam of 40 meters. The State Party established a

“Scientific Commission for the Study of the Impacts of the Dredging of the Guadalquivir River”. The State Party report notes that, based on the findings of the scientific research done by the Scientific Research Council and the University of Granada, a statement was issued in November 2010 concluding that the ecological functioning of the estuary must be improved before any dredging can be done. This statement also calls for definitive abandonment of the dredging plan to deepen the channel and, if the Port Authority is adamant about this project, then it recommends that a new EIA procedure is initiated once the conditions of the estuary have been improved.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2011

Following the analysis of all material provided and the field visits and meetings with a wide range of stakeholders undertaken as part of the reactive monitoring mission, the mission concludes that the state of conservation of the World Heritage property is satisfactory. The values for which the property has been inscribed under the World Heritage and Wetlands Conventions are still present. The mission also notes that the different national protection levels of the National Park and Natural Park and the different international designations as Ramsar wetland site, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage property, are mutually beneficial. In 2010, Doñana received the renewal of the European Diploma granted by the Council of Europe, another indicator of the effective management of the property. However, the mission notes a number of critical issues, including the proposed additional dredging of the Lower Guadalquivir River, the over-abstraction of the Doñana Aquifer, the proposed Balboa oil pipeline from Huelva to Extremadura, and the cumulative effects of infrastructure projects outside the World Heritage property and Ramsar site which could impact on the values and integrity of the site.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the World Heritage Committee should re-examine the state of conservation of the property in 2013 to consider whether the inscription of Doñana on the List of World Heritage in Danger would be warranted, in relation to the following issues:

 i. the risks posed by the proposed Balboa pipeline from Huelva to Extremadura on the property’s values and integrity, if the project is not cancelled or at least changed substantially in its design;

ii. the effects of the proposed additional dredging of the Lower Guadalquivir River, if finally approved without an integrated management plan for this area to enhance the environmental quality of the river; and

iii. the effective implementation of the plan to control water abstraction from the Doñana Aquifer (Plan de la Corona Forestal).

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that these issues should be addressed as a priority and to ensure that the integrity and values of the World Heritage property and Ramsar site are maintained.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2011
35 COM 7B.27
Doñana National Park (Spain) (N 685bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35 COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.26, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Takes note of the conclusion of the 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission that the Outstanding Universal Value for which the property has been inscribed is still present, but could be threatened by a number of proposed development projects, including the proposed additional dredging of the Lower Guadalquivir River, the over-abstraction of the Doñana Aquifer, the proposed Balboa oil pipeline from Huelva to Extremadura, and the cumulative effects of infrastructure projects outside the World Heritage property;

4. Encourages the State Party to update all risk preparedness and management plans in view of the expansion project of La Rábida refinery and to establish direct communication lines in case of emergencies with the specialized unit of La Rábida refinery dealing with rapid response to emergency situations;

5. Considers that the proposed Balboa pipeline could have both direct and indirect impacts on the property's Outstanding Universal Value and urges the State Party to refrain from choosing any route for the Balboa pipeline which could impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

6. Requests the State Party to ensure the implementation of the Special Management Plan of the Irrigation Zones (located to the North of the Forest Crown of Doñana) and to consider the following points:

a) Every effort is made to produce a consensus-based plan, with the full participation of all the stakeholders, but without diluting the essential objectives of said Plan regarding the "protection of the exceptional natural values of Doñana and the rational use of water",

b) The Government Council of the Junta de Andalucía approve the Plan before 31 December 2011, and commence implementation by 1 January 2012 at the latest;

7. Also urges the State Party to halt any works related to the project "Actions to improve the maritime access to the Port of Seville" of 1999, and not to authorise the dredging of the Guadalquivir River as proposed in this plan, as this could have a critical impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

8. Also requests the State Party to fully and effectively implement all other recommendations of the 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission and the Ramsar advisory mission, in order to address the key conservation and management issues and challenges facing the property;

9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013 a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, in particular on the above mentioned issues and on progress achieved in the implementation of the recommendations from the reactive monitoring mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Draft Decision: 35 COM 7B.27

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35 COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.26, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Takes note of the conclusion of the 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission that the Outstanding Universal Value for which the property has been inscribed is still present, but could be threatened by a number of proposed development projects, including the proposed additional dredging of the Lower Guadalquivir River, the over-abstraction of the Doñana Aquifer, the proposed Balboa oil pipeline from Huelva to Extremadura, and the cumulative effects of infrastructure projects outside the World Heritage property;

4. Encourages the State Party to update all risk preparedness and management plans in view of the expansion project of La Rábida refinery and to establish direct communication lines in case of emergencies with the specialized unit of La Rábida refinery dealing with rapid response to emergency situations;

5. Considers that the proposed Balboa pipeline could have both direct and indirect impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and urges the State Party to refrain from choosing any route for the Balboa pipeline which could impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

6. Requests that the State Party ensures the implementation of the the Special Management Plan of the Irrigation Zones (located to the North of the Forest Crown of Doñana) and considers the following points:

a) Every effort is made to produce a consensus-based plan, with the full participation of all the stakeholders, but without diluting the essential objectives of said Plan regarding the “protection of the exceptional natural values of Doñana and the rational use of water”,

b) The Government Council of the Junta de Andalucía approve the Plan before 31 December 2011, and commence implementation by 1 January 2012 at the latest;

7. Also urges the State Party to halt any works related to the project “Actions to improve the maritime access to the Port of Seville” of 1999, and to not authorise the dredging of the Guadalquivir River as proposed in this plan, as this could have a critical impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

8. Also requests the State Party to fully and effectively implement all other recommendations of the 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission and the Ramsar advisory mission, in order to address the key conservation and management issues and challenges facing the property;

9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013 a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, in particular on the above mentioned issues and on progress achieved in the implementation of the recommendations from the reactive monitoring mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Report year: 2011
Spain
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 35COM (2011)
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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