1.         Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) (N 196)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1996-2007, 2011-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6236 

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4439  

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6236 

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1982-2015)
Total amount approved: USD 223,628
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 80,000 (in addition to approximately USD 100,000 of in-kind technical assistance) under the management effectiveness assessment project “Enhancing our Heritage”. 

Previous monitoring missions

2000: IUCN monitoring mission; 2003, 2006 and 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 10 February 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documents and provides the following information:

Finally, the State Party notes the need to investigate and preserve the highly significant archeological site called Ciudad Blanca located within the biosphere reserve, both as regards overall management and the possible significant boundary modification.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Progress is noted in addressing some of the many challenges the property is facing. However, severe overarching security concerns in parts of the Honduran Mosquitia region where the property is located persist. The ongoing efforts to negotiate and grant access to land and natural resources in the form of usufruct rights and the creation of Indigenous and Afro-Honduran territorial councils are welcomed, and all care should be taken to ensure that such rights remain compatible with the conservation of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including the conditions of integrity.

The renewed eviction of illegal settlers from the property continues to be a highly sensitive matter. Every effort should be made to actively prevent intrusions in the future prior to the establishment of informal settlements. While the diverse external funding sources and cooperation partners are positively noted, there is little indication of the desirable allocation of additional governmental resources.

The State Party report does not provide any information on the current status of the Patuca III hydropower project, although it mentions some activities to identify the area of influence of the project. The continued absence of a comprehensive assessment of the possible direct and indirect impacts of the project on the property, further complicated by the lack of clarity of the property boundaries, should be recalled. There continues to be a need for a better understanding of all impacts once the boundaries have been clarified as a basis for monitoring and mitigation.

The confirmation of a major archeological site called Ciudad Blanca is considered to be highly significant, and the conservation and management of this site will undoubtedly emerge as an integral management issue of the property. It will be of crucial importance to avoid possibly conflicting management objectives, in particular as regards improved access to the remote location and tourism development interests.

The project funded by International Assistance successfully addressed the lack of clarity in terms of the exact boundary configuration and zonation of the property caused mainly by the significant extension and re-zoning of the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve in 1997, which to date had not been considered through World Heritage processes. Given the scale of these changes, the IA project’s conclusion that a significant boundary modification emerges as the most logical and promising way forward, as detailed in the technical documentation of the project report, should be supported. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee encourage the State Party to prepare as a matter of priority a proposal for such a significant boundary modification, carefully evaluating which areas within the larger Biosphere Reserve would need to be included in the new boundaries in order to preserve the OUV of the property in the best way and in order to facilitate the future work on addressing the challenges that led to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Given the ongoing multiple challenges, it is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7A.33

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7A.20, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Commends the State Party and governmental and non-governmental partners for further progress made in integrated monitoring and granting negotiated local access to land and natural resources, and encourages the State Party and partners to continue these efforts;
  4. Expresses its concern that another eviction has been carried out and strongly urges the State Party to prevent new illegal settlements so as to avoid further evictions in the future;
  5. Reiterates its concern that illegal activities continue to impact on the property and that no apparent progress has been made in terms of human, financial and logistical resources beyond the securing of external funding and cooperation;
  6. Encourages the State Party to use the conclusions and recommendations of the discussions facilitated by International Assistance, as a foundation to develop a proposal for a significant boundary modification, with the technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as required;
  7. Also recalls its consideration that the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) should be revised once the boundaries of the property have been clarified;
  8. Recalls its request to the State Party to report on the possible impacts of the Patuca III project;
  9. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report 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;
  10. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: