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Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park

Costa Rica, Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Illegal activities
  • Land conversion
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of a long-term biological monitoring program

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Construction of hydroelectric dams near the property in Panama and associated effects (greater human presence near the property, interruption of aquatic species migratory corridor)
  • Lack of a long-term biological monitoring program to implement mitigation measures that minimize the negative impacts on the property caused by hydroelectric projects
  • Approval of a new hydropower project (Changuinola II or CHAN 140) without prior finalization of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the entire property
  • Encroachment (settlements, cattle ranching)
  • Planned road construction, which would traverse the property on the side of Panama (issue resolved)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

Total amount granted: USD 30 000 from the Rapid Response Facility

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 9 (from 1982-1997)
Total amount approved : 276,350 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

February 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2013: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2016: IUCN Reactive Monitoring Mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 31 January 2017, the States Parties of Costa Rica and Panama submitted a joint report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/205/documents/, and providing the following information in relation to the implementation of Decision 40 COM 7B.72 and the recommendations of the 2016 mission:

  • Threats to the property from cattle ranching and agricultural activity have not increased, although a number of small areas with signs of deforestation and encroachment were detected during the recent overflight of the Costa Rican part of the property undertaken by the authorities, including signs of illegally constructed buildings. Visits to the affected areas are planned to investigate the cases;
  • A marijuana plantation was detected and destroyed within the property in August 2016. Efforts are continuing to combat all illegal activities, including joint patrolling and cooperation between different authorities;
  • Regarding the new dam Changuinola II, it is confirmed that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of this project was approved in 2013. The company responsible for the construction of the dam has committed to a period of permanent dialogue with the communities directly affected by involuntary relocation, but has not initiated any construction activities. The company is carrying out planning among other activities;
  • The State Party of Panama commits not to approve any further hydroelectric projects until the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the property has been approved. In Costa Rica, the planned Diquís hydroelectric project is currently “being stopped by the indigenous consultation process”, and national authorities were reminded about the responsibility to conduct environmental assessments and consider potential impacts of projects on the OUV for all heritage sites;
  • The first phase of the SEA has been completed in Panama and options for funding the preparation of the SEA for the Costa Rican part are being discussed. It is planned to finalize an integrated SEA for the entire property in 2018 and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN. An evaluation of cumulative impacts will also be undertaken as part of the process. The preparation of the SEA foresees a participatory process, including involvement of indigenous communities;
  • An update is provided on mitigation measures and monitoring undertaken for Chan 75 and Bonyic projects;
  • Renegotiation of the concession contract with the company Hidroecológica del Teribe S.A., responsible for the Bonyic project, is underway, including an establishment of a provision for an external audit of the concession contract every five years. Once the results of the audit are available, the contract will be renegotiated in order to strengthen participation of indigenous communities in the “plans, programmes and projects with an impact in the area”.

On 14 April 2017, the State Party of Panama submitted a letter stating that a decision to cancel the contract to build the Changuinola II dam had been taken at a recent Presidential cabinet meeting.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The information provided by the States Parties regarding threats from illegal activities and encroachment is noted. As demonstrated by the results of the recent overflight of the property and patrolling activities, it is clear that the property continues to be affected by encroachment and cultivation of illegal crops, even if only small areas currently appear affected by such activities. It is recommended that the Committee request the States Parties to continue their efforts to combat illegal activities within the property.

The commitment of the States Parties to finalize an integrated SEA for the entire property by 2018 and the commitment of the State Party of Panama not to approve any new projects until the SEA is available, and the information that the contract to build the Changuinola II dam has been cancelled are noted with appreciation. It is recommended however that the Committee request the State Party of Panama to confirm the cancellation of the contract once this decision has officially entered into force following the necessary procedures, and to clarify whether the cancellation of this contract means that the plans for Changuinola II hydropower project will be definitely abandoned. It is also recommended that the Committee reiterate its position that any development of new hydropower projects prior to the finalization and adequate review of the SEA for the entire property would represent a danger to the OUV of the property in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and would lead to its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

It is further recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Panama to continue monitoring activities of the Chan 75 and Bonyic dams, to establish a long-term monitoring programme for these two projects to evaluate the effectiveness of their mitigation measures and to ensure that the results of this monitoring, even if very limited at this early stage, are taken into account during the preparation of the SEA and of the assessment of cumulative impacts.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.13
Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (Costa Rica, Panama) (N 205bis

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.72, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Noting the information provided by the States Parties that several small areas affected by encroachment and illegal activities have been detected through recent patrolling and overflight activities and the States Parties’ intention to further investigate these cases, requests the States Parties to continue their efforts to combat all illegal activities within the property;
  4. Takes note with satisfaction of the commitment of the States Parties to finalize the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the entire property by 2018 and the commitment of the State Party of Panama not to approve any new hydropower projects in the vicinity of the property until the SEA is available, and also requests the State Party to submit the results of this SEA by 1 February 2018 to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  5. Also takes note with satisfaction of the information provided by the State Party of Panama that the contract for the construction of the Changuinola II dam has been cancelled and further requests the State Party of Panama to confirm this decision once it has officially entered into force following the necessary procedures, and to clarify whether the cancellation of this contract means that the plans for Changuinola II hydropower project will be definitely abandoned;
  6. Recalls its position that any development of new hydropower projects prior to the finalization and adequate review of the SEA for the entire property would represent a danger to the OUV of the property in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and would lead to its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Requests furthermore the State Party of Panama to continue monitoring activities of the Chan 75 and Bonyic dams, the findings of which should be taken into account in the above-mentioned SEA and assessment of cumulative impacts, and to establish a long-term monitoring programme for these two projects to evaluate the effectiveness of their mitigation measures;
  8. Finally requests the States Parties 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.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.13

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.72, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Noting the information provided by the States Parties that several small areas affected by encroachment and illegal activities have been detected through recent patrolling and overflight acitivities and the States Parties’ intention to further investigate these cases, requests the States Parties to continue their efforts to combat all illegal activities within the property;
  4. Takes note with satisfaction of the commitment of the States Parties to finalize the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the entire property by 2018 and the commitment of the State Party of Panama not to approve any new hydropower projects in the vicinity of the property until the SEA is available, and also requests the State Party to submit the results of this SEA by 1 February 2018 to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  5. Also takes note with satisfaction of the information provided by the State Party of Panama that the contract for the construction of the Changuinola II dam has been cancelled and further requests the State Party of Panama to confirm this decision once it has officially entered into force following the necessary procedures, and to clarify whether the cancellation of this contract means that the plans for Changuinola II hydropower project will be definitely abandoned;
  6. Recalls its position that any development of new hydropower projects prior to the finalization and adequate review of the SEA for the entire property would represent a danger to the OUV of the property in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and would lead to its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Requests furthermore the State Party of Panama to continue monitoring activities of the Chan 75 and Bonyic dams, the findings of which should be taken into account in the above-mentioned SEA and assessment of cumulative impacts, and to establish a long-term monitoring programme for these two projects to evaluate the effectiveness of their mitigation measures;
  8. Finally requests the States Parties 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.
Report year: 2017
Costa Rica Panama
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
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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