1.         Chitwan National Park (Nepal) (N 284)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1984

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(x)

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/284/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1988-1989)
Total amount approved: USD 80,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/284/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

December 2002: IUCN monitoring mission; March 2016: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/284/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

From 14 to 21 March 2016, an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property as requested by the Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015). On 17 January 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/284/documents. The State Party provides the following updated information:

The State Party notes that the property is facing additional challenges from human-wildlife conflicts, invasive alien species and habitat degradation due to both natural processes and human-induced disturbances, including climate change.

Additional proposed road developments that would cross the property are also noted by the State Party, i.e. the Dumkibas-Tribeni road, the Madi-Balmikiashram road (the DNPWC fully objected to both), the State 3 proposed China-India Trade Link, and an upgrading of the Bharatpur-Thori road. For the latter, the District Road Office has called a tender for tarmacking the portion through the property.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for achieving at least four years of zero rhino poaching. However, local news reported that poachers killed a male rhino in early April 2017, which serves as a reminder that poaching continues to be a threat, and it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to uphold its current anti-poaching efforts, in collaboration with the Nepali Army.

The positive developments reported by the State Party should be welcomed, including the realignment of the East-West Electric Railway to avoid the property and the initiation of an EIA for the Trivenidham-Balmikiashram suspension bridge. However, it is noted that no final decision regarding the alignments of the Railway and the Highway appears to have been taken at the time of writing this report. The March 2016 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission recommended that the Railway and the Highway should not be approved, given their likely significant negative impacts on the OUV of the property. Such concern remains until the State Party has unambiguously confirmed that the Railway and Highway have not been approved, along with their proposed alignments through the property. In that regard, the option to construct sky bridges on the sections where the Highway would cross the property is not considered an appropriate solution, as this would not address the impacts on the OUV of the property in relation to criterion (vii).

The mission expressed concern about a number of other proposed road developments, including those reported by the State Party, as well as another China-India Trade Link proposed by State 4 (following the same alignment as the Dumkibas-Tribeni road), and the Thori-Malekhu road, which would all cause a fragmentation of the property. Some of these proposed roads follow the alignments of old trade routes that have been closed for public use. The mission concluded that if any of the aforementioned linear infrastructure developments were to proceed according to their proposed alignments through the property, they would form a clear basis for the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to make an unequivocal commitment not to approve any new roads or reopen/upgrade old roads passing through the property.

In addition, the proposed Thori-Birgunj road, although not crossing the property, should be subject to a thorough EIA, including a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, as the mission considered that this road has a high potential to increase the demand for transportation of commercial goods along the existing Bharatpur-Thori road to destinations beyond Thori, hence generating an increase in heavy traffic through the property. Finally, the fact that the District Road Office has called a tender for tarmacking the Bharatpur-Thori road through the property is of concern. It is recommended that permits to upgrade the parts of the Bharatpur-Thori road, which are located inside the property and are in good condition, should not be granted.

The State Party did not provide further information on the construction of a very large new temple and a boarding school inside the property at Gajendra Dham, nor does it provide an update on the progress achieved with the demarcation of the property’s boundaries, as recommended by the mission. The mission also made a recommendation to address encroachment of important wildlife habitats in the property, which would contribute to addressing the State Party’s concerns about human-wildlife conflicts and habitat degradation. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to fully implement the recommendations made by the mission regarding these issues, and to provide detailed information on the progress achieved with the implementation of all of the mission’s recommendations in its next report to the Committee.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.31

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.15, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Commends the State Party for achieving at least four years (2011-2015) of zero rhino poaching at the property and, noting that poaching continues to be a threat, urges the State Party to uphold its current anti-poaching efforts, in collaboration with the Nepali Army, in order to ensure their continued success;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s decision to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the alternative alignment of the East-West Electric Railway that avoids the property, and the initiation of an EIA for the Trivenidham-Balmikiashram suspension bridge, and requests the State Party to submit copies of these EIAs to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, as soon as they are available;
  5. Also requests the State Party to make an unequivocal commitment not to allow the development of the East-West Electric Railway and the Terai Hulaki Highway to proceed along their proposed alignments through the property, and not to approve any other new roads or reopening/upgrading of old roads through the property, including the proposed Dumkibas-Tribeni road, the Madi-Balmikiashram road, the State 3 and State 4 proposed China-India Trade Links, and the Tori-Malekhu road;
  6. Considers that if any of the aforementioned road and railway developments were to proceed according to their proposed alignments through the property, they would represent a clear potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and a clear basis for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Notes with concern that the Chitwan District Road Office has called a tender for tarmacking the Bharatpur-Thori road through the property, and further requests the State Party to ensure that any upgrading of the parts of the Bharatpur-Thori road that are located inside the property, including black-topping and widening, shall not be permitted;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to undertake a thorough EIA of the proposed Thori-Birgunj road, including an assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, considering that this road has the potential to increase the demand for transportation of commercial goods to destinations beyond Thori, which would generate an increase in heavy traffic through the property;
  9. Regrets that the State Party did not provide further information on encroachment at Gajendra Dham and in important wildlife habitats of the property, and on progress achieved in the demarcation of the property’s boundaries;
  10. Taking note of the recommendations of the 2016 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, requests moreover the State Party to fully implement all these recommendations in the best delay;
  11. Finally 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, including detailed information on the implementation of each of the recommendations made by the 2016 mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.