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Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

Honduras
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Financial resources
  • Human resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of clarity of the boundaries of the property
  • Human and financial resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal settlements
  • Illegal livestock grazing and agricultural encroachment
  • Illegal logging
  • Illegal commercial fishing
  • Poaching
  • Invasive Alien Species
  • Management deficiencies
  • Potential impacts from hydroelectric development projects Patuca I,II and III
  • Lawlessness and lack of law enforcement
  • Lack of clarity regarding land tenure and access to natural resources
  • Deforestation and forest degradation
  • Overlap with important archaeological sites implying a need to harmonize management of cultural and natural heritage
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Illegal logging
  • Illegal occupation
  • Lack of clarity regarding land tenure
  • Reduced capacity of the State Party
  • General deterioration of law and order and the security situation in the region
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 for the property

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 

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

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” 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 8 (from 1982-2015)
Total amount approved : 223,628 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 1 February 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documents/, which documents the follow-up on Committee requests and recommendations under the leadership of the Honduran Institute for Conservation, Forest Development, Protected Areas and Wildlife (ICF) and a technical Ad Hoc Committee (inter-institutional site manager) bringing together a wide range of sectors. The activities and considerations can be summarized as follows:

  • All efforts are guided by balancing national and international conservation commitments, including under the Convention, with the rights, interests and aspirations of indigenous peoples, Afro-Honduran and Ladino (mestizo) communities;
  • An extensive titling process in favour of Miskitos and Pechs indigenous peoples was undertaken in the cultural area of the reserve;
  • Overflights combined with selected ground truth are being used to detect illegal activities and occupation early on;
  • Limited human and financial resources are buffered by multilateral and bilateral cooperation, including a budget support program to the forestry sector by the European Union (PASPFOR) and financial and technical cooperation facilitated by the German government, such as PROTEP and regional efforts to support the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor;
  • Further support includes an agreement with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to strengthen the national protected areas system. The property is also eligible for projects under a Global Environmental Fund (GEF) established to support selected protected areas in Honduras;
  • Implementation of the system of integral reserve monitoring (SIMONI) was underway during 2016 and several actions were undertaken to enhance and review information on biological monitoring , such as those regarding felines and their prey;
  • State Party’s readiness to make use of arguments, findings, and recommendations of the 2015 International Assistance, as a basis for a possible significant boundary modification of the property while stressing the crucial need for consultation with local stakeholders in this regard, including indigenous peoples and Afro-Honduran communities. To this end, cooperation agreements were signed with representatives of Miskitos and Pechs indigenous peoples. The process for agreement with the Afro-Honduran Federation and the Tawahka community shall begin in 2017;
  • The short, medium and long-term planning established by the action plan of the technical Ad Hoc Committee provides useful overall guidance regardless of possible boundary modifications under the Convention. At the same time, it is acknowledged that such modifications would imply a need for refining the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  • The Patuca III hydroelectric project, also known as Piedras Amarillas, continues to be halted due to “problems of financing and expropriation of land nearby”. New loans from the Government of China are stated to enable the possibility of resuming the works. Multiple social and environmental impacts are listed.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The continuous efforts made by the State Party in response to several Committee decisions since the property’s second inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger (in 2011), including the most recent Decision 40 COM 7A.33 (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), is welcomed. Multilateral and bilateral cooperation actors should be commended for their strong further contributions to the governmental efforts based on longstanding joint work. At the same time, the external support should not be considered as a sustainable compensation of systemic underfunding and understaffing for a vast, remote protected area prone to conflict. In this sense, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure sustained government funding to the property. Moreover, full coordination of partnerships is strongly recommended, as for example, the several efforts undertaken by the State Party as regards to monitoring that need to be fully harmonized under the established integrated monitoring system SIMONI.

In terms of ongoing threats to the property, the continuation of overflights and associated ground level surveys is noted and should be maintained to detect illegal activities as well as illegal new settlements as early as possible to enable immediate responses as opposed to evictions after the full establishment of settlements.

As for the Patuca III or Piedras Amarillas hydropower project, the social and environmental impacts listed by the State Party are most severe as they include resettlements, likelihood of facilitating the advancement of the agricultural frontier, loss of productive land and impacts on food security. It is noted, however, that no specific consideration has been given to the property and possible impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and therefore it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to undertake an assessment of possible impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, prior to any decision regarding resuming work.

The explicit readiness of the State Party to proceed with the jointly developed recommendations under the 2015 International Assistance, as encouraged by the Committee in its Decision 40 COM 7A.33, is welcomed, as is its determination to ensure that all conservation and management efforts to fully respect existing governance arrangements and meaningful consultation and negotiation with all stakeholders and rights-holders, including indigenous peoples, Afro-Honduran and Ladino (mestizo) communities. It is clear that the notion of a boundary modification is most sensitive and could easily be interpreted as challenging rights and governance arrangements defined over years of negotiation. It should be clearly communicated that the intention is to add a layer of protection to both conservation and agreed local resource use against external resource users and large-scale commercial development projects and that boundary modifications will need to be elaborated to provide the best possible protection for the OUV of the property in such a way that would not compromise local and indigenous livelihoods and rights. It is recommended that the Committee strongly encourage the State Party to proceed with a participatory consultation and negotiation process to elaborate a proposal for a significant boundary modification.

The considerations inevitably surfacing in such process are, in essence, the same substantive issues to be addressed in the efforts to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The significant boundary modification and the efforts aimed at removing the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger should thus be regarded and managed as an integrated and participatory effort requiring full harmonization. Finally, it is recommended that the Committee retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7A.3
Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) (N 196)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.33, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Commends the State Party and governmental and non-governmental partners on 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 and enhance these efforts;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s effort to accomplish an extensive titling process in favour of indigenous peoples that are settled within and beyond the limits of the property;
  5. Notes the efforts made by the State Party in order to control illegal activities, however reiterates its concern that human, financial and logistical resources allocated by the State Party continue to be inadequate to address these challenges;
  6. Recommends that the State Party maintain the overflights and ground level surveys to detect illegal activities and to detect illegal new settlements as early as possible to enable immediate responses, avoiding evictions after the full establishment of settlements;
  7. Also encourages the State Party to further follow up on the conclusions and recommendations of the discussions facilitated by the provisions of the 2015 International Assistance, by continuing the consultation and negotiation process underpinning elaboration of a proposal for a significant boundary modification, which fully considers the interests, rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples, Afro-Honduran and Ladino (mestizo) communities, with the technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as required;
  8. Considers that the significant boundary modification and the efforts to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger are intricately linked and should be regarded and managed as one coherent effort;
  9. Recalls its request to the State Party to report on the possible impacts of the Patuca III project, and requests the State Party to ensure that current and potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are specifically assessed, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to ensure that the implementation of this project will not be permitted before this assessment is completed;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
  11. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
41 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
    • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 41 COM 7A.54)
    • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 41 COM 7A.55)
    • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 41 COM 7A.2)
    • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 41 COM 7A.23)
    • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.4)
    • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 41 COM 7A.24)
    • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.6)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.7)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.8)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.9)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.10)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.11)
    • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 41 COM 7A.32)
    • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.3)
    • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.18)
    • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 41 COM 7A.33)
    • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.34)
    • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 41 COM 7A.35)
    • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 41 COM 7A.36)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 41 COM 7A.37)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 41 COM 7A.38)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 41 COM 7A.39)
    • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 41 COM 7A.40)
    • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 41 COM 7A.41)
    • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 41 COM 7A.14)
    • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 41 COM 7A.28)
    • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 41 COM 7A.29)
    • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 41 COM 7A.30)
    • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 41 COM 7A.56)
    • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 41 COM 7A.15)
    • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 41 COM 7A.42)
    • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 41 COM 7A.43)
    • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 41 COM 7A.25)
    • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 41 COM 7A.26)
    • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.16)
    • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 41 COM 7A.21)
    • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 41 COM 7A.19)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 41 COM 7A.44)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 41 COM 7A.45)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 41 COM 7A.46)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 41 COM 7A.47)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 41 COM 7A.48)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 41 COM 7A.49)
    • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 41 COM 7A.31)
    • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 41 COM 7A.22)
    • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.17)
    • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.1)
    • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 41 COM 7A.57)
    • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 41 COM 7A.27)
    • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 41 COM 7A.51)
    • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 41 COM 7A.52)
    • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 41 COM 7A.53)
      Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.3

      The World Heritage Committee,

      1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
      2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.33, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
      3. Commends the State Party and governmental and non-governmental partners on 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 and enhance these efforts;
      4. Welcomes the State Party’s effort to accomplish an extensive titling process in favour of indigenous peoples that are settled within and beyond the limits of the property;
      5. Notes the efforts made by the State Party in order to control illegal activities, however reiterates its concern that human, financial and logistical resources allocated by the State Party continue to be inadequate to address these challenges;
      6. Recommends that the State Party maintain the overflights and ground level surveys to detect illegal activities and to detect illegal new settlements as early as possible to enable immediate responses, avoiding evictions after the full establishment of settlements;
      7. Also encourages the State Party to further follow up on the conclusions and recommendations of the discussions facilitated by the provisions of the 2015 International Assistance, by continuing the consultation and negotiation process underpinning elaboration of a proposal for a significant boundary modification, which fully considers the interests, rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples, Afro-Honduran and Ladino (mestizo) communities, with the technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as required;
      8. Considers that the significant boundary modification and the efforts to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger are intricately linked and should be regarded and managed as one coherent effort;
      9. Recalls its request to the State Party to report on the possible impacts of the Patuca III project, and requests the State Party to ensure that current and potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are specifically assessed, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to ensure that the implementation of this project will not be permitted before this assessment is completed;
      10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
      11. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
      Report year: 2017
      Honduras
      Date of Inscription: 1982
      Category: Natural
      Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
      Danger List (dates): 1996-2007, 2011-present
      Documents examined by the Committee
      SOC Report by the State Party
      Report (2017) .pdf
      arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
      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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