Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2005
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/1118/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 10,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1118/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
October 2015: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1118/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
In October 2015, an ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property (mission report available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1118/documents), at the request of the Committee.
On 21 November 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at the above-mentioned web address, and provides an update on the state of conservation but does not refer directly to the detailed recommendations of the mission. The report includes the following:
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
While welcoming the progress reported, the lack of details means that it is not readily possible to understand whether and how the detailed recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission have been addressed.
One of the main priority recommendations of the mission was the need for conservation work on the sculptures to be underpinned by a more carefully considered conservation methodology which addresses the philosophy behind the conservation and how it should carried out. Such an approach needs to be based on research into appropriate materials for shelter coats of the mud sculpture as an alternative to cement which cracks over time. These recommendations have so far not been responded to as no overall conservation approach is suggested and the materials set out include different colours of cement but no suggestion as to how a more flexible shelter coat might be developed. Thus, while the planned programme of conservation is to be welcomed, there is concern that this is being implemented without adequate guidance being put in place.
As the waters of the river flowing through the Grove are considered sacred and used by devotees during the annual Festival, the mission considered that it was essential that the water quality be monitored through laboratory analysis on a regular basis and, if the river was found to be polluted, visitors should be warned of the hazards of touching the water. Assurances that these recommendations have been carried out have not been provided.
Although the fact that 5% of the Festival income is now provided for conservation work, it is said that this is all spent on reversing the negative impacts of the Festival crowds. As the mission pointed out, the Sacred Grove is what attracts participants to the Festival and it is the conservation of the Grove that should benefit from its success. This means that an appropriate percentage of income should be allocated to support long-term conservation, not just reversing the impact of the Festival activities.
The recommendations of the mission to what was seen as an over-commercialization of the Festival, incompatible with its sacred status, were not addressed in the report.
The mission acknowledged the need to document the complex three dimensional sculptures and set out recommendations for graphic, photographic and photogrammetric documentation that could be used for monitoring; details as to how this need has been addressed need to be provided.
In terms of regeneration of the sacred forest (to reverse former agricultural encroachment), the mission considered that knowledge of staff should be supplemented with advice from professional nature conservation specialists on appropriate methods for forest regeneration. This does not appear to have been followed.
Moreover, in its report, the mission stressed the need to undertake further revision of the Conservation Management Plan 2015-2019, including the Tourism Management Plan, by incorporating the detailed recommendations of the mission. It appears that this revision has not been carried out and it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to undertake such an update as a matter of urgency.
Other recommendations of the mission that were not addressed in the report are those relating to community engagement, lack of resources for professional staff, inclusion of staff in Festival planning, fencing the buffer zone, and plans for a proposed new road and bridge.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.70
The World Heritage Committee,