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Maya Site of Copan (Honduras) (C 129bis)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1980
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/129/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 226,513
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/129/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
1999: ICOMOS expert mission; 2003: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2004: World Heritage Centre mission; 2005: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- The foreseen construction of an airport in the vicinity of the World Heritage property in a national protected area (issue resolved)
- Deterioration of construction materials due to natural decay phenomena
- Risk of structural failure of archaeological complexes resulting from tunnels excavated for archaeological purposes
- Deterioration derived from uncontrolled visitation and potential to exceed carrying capacity at specific time periods
- Legal issues concerning the ownership of the land and the delimitation of the property and its buffer zone
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/129/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
On 30 November 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/129/. Subsequently additional information was provided in March 2017, which includes maps of the property, a proposal for the buffer zone and the no-fly zone around the site, as well as the planning for revision of the Management Plan. Progress in conservation measures is reported as follows:
- The State Party informs that the recommendations of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) have been accepted and that all the mitigation measures at the Rio Amarillo airport are in execution. A no-flying zone of a radius of 1,850 meters around the Maya Site of Copan has been confirmed;
- The boundary of the property is physically marked by a wire fence built in 1975 and enclosing the principal group of ruins (15 ha), corresponding to the description in the nomination dossier. The buffer zone covers an area of 452 ha around the World Heritage property, with the river as it southern border, and limits at an average of 1,000m from the property to the east, north and west. The property is under the exclusive management of the Honduran Institute for Anthropology and History (IHAH) whereas its surroundings include visitors services and agricultural and livestock pasture;
- The State Party accepts the recommendations of ICOMOS regarding the Management Plan. The management strategy now includes participation of local authorities and communities, awareness, education and communication programmes and a high priority to sustainable development and employment generation;
- Significant advances were achieved on stone conservation thanks to the Santander Program for Research and Conservation of Maya Sculpture. Regarding the Hieroglyphic Stairway, further on-site and laboratory tests will be conducted during 2017 and 2018. A final decision about the protective shelter is expected to be taken by the end of 2018. Construction can then begin in 2019;
- Finally the State Party mentions that IHAH envisages buying the land on the eastern side of the property, to create a park of cultural and natural attractions.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
It is noted with satisfaction that the State Party responded positively to the recommendations of the Committee and ICOMOS regarding the management of the property.
Following the opening of the Rio Amarillo airport, the establishment of a no-fly zone is an important measure to reduce impact of flights at the property. Mitigation and rescue interventions around the airport have been completed. The opening of the airport did not cause a significant increase in visitor numbers that remain relatively low.
The clarification of the boundaries is an issue that has required the Committee’s attention since 2011 (Decision 35 COM 8B.59). The State Party confirms the boundaries of the property that were defined and physically constructed in 1975. These are consistent with the maps submitted at the time of inscription of the property on the World Heritage List and with the new cartography submitted in March 2017. It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for the accomplishment in clarifying the boundaries of the property within the framework of the Retrospective Inventory.
However, regarding the proposal for a buffer zone, as requested by the Committee in its previous decisions, the map included in the most recent report, and resubmitted in March 2017, differs from the map included in the 2015 state of conservation report provided by the State Party. This implies a reduction of the proposal for the buffer zone. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to clarify this matter and submit a Minor Boundary Modification, according to paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines.
Progress can be noted in the management approach that now explicitly includes the local communities and authorities. A financing strategy, tourism management, interpretation for young people and disaster preparedness are among the issues that are being addressed. These matters will need to be incorporated in the 2014-2020 Management Plan, as per ICOMOS recommendations issued in 2015.
Finally, it is noted that the use of technology in the conservation programmes is of high standards. This is being applied for the documentation of stone sculptures (3D scanning of reliefs), mapping of the tunnel systems (robot topographic survey and 3D modeling) and the creation of a conservation laboratory. The protective structures for the hieroglyphic stairway are continuously tested and monitored. This will lead to decision making by the end of 2018 and the construction of the structure in 2019.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.62
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.91, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
- Commends the State Party for the work accomplished in the clarification of the boundaries of the property within the framework of the Retrospective Inventory exercise and for the positive response it has given to the Committee’s recommendations and to ICOMOS advice;
- Welcomes the introduction of a no-fly zone over the property and the completion of mitigation and rescue measures at the Rio Amarillo airport;
- Notes the information provided on the definition of the buffer zone and urges the State Party to finalize this process and to submit a final proposal for a buffer zone, according to paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines concerning minor boundary modifications;
- Expresses its appreciation for the progress in the revision in the Management Plan and requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, a final version of the Management Plan as soon as it becomes available;
- Also requests the State Party to keep it informed of further developments in the design and testing results of the protective structure of the Hieroglyphic Stairway and any other development projects that may have an impact on the property;
- Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 43rd session in 2019.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8D
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/8D,
- Recalling Decision 40 COM 8D, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
- Acknowledges the excellent work accomplished by States Parties in the clarification of the boundaries of their World Heritage properties and commends them for their efforts to improve the credibility of the World Heritage List;
- Recalls that the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are not able to examine proposals for minor or significant modifications to boundaries of World Heritage properties whenever the delimitations of such properties as inscribed remain unclear;
- Takes note of the clarifications of property boundaries and areas provided by the States Parties as presented in the Annex of Document WHC/17/41.COM/8D:
- Seychelles, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve
- Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra
EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA
- Canada, Old Town Lunenburg
- Russian Federation, Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad
- Sweden, Church Town of Gammelstad, Luleå
- Sweden, Laponian Area
- Sweden, Naval Port of Karlskrona
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
- Honduras, Maya Site of Copan;
- Requests the States Parties which have not yet answered the questions raised in the framework of the Retrospective Inventory to provide all clarifications and documentation as soon as possible, and by 1 December 2017 at the latest, for their subsequent examination, if the technical requirements are met, at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2018.