1.         Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal) (N 120)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (vii)

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/120/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 232,097
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

June 1985: UNESCO mission; December 2002: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; July 2005: Fact-finding mission; May 2016: IUCN Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 30 November 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/documents/ and primarily responds to Decision 40 COM 7B.89, as follows:

On 27 March 2018, the State Party of Nepal has separately submitted the approved Management Plan of Sagarmatha National Park to the World Heritage Centre which is being reviewed by IUCN.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The completion and official approval as well as the implementation of the 2016-2020 Management Plan are welcome.

In its Decision 40 COM 7B.89 (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), the Committee had expressed concerns about illegal firewood collection, waste management and other tourism impacts, including from helicopter use, requesting the State Party to incorporate adequate management responses in the new Management Plan, “based on the recommendations of the Advisory mission and, where necessary, additional assessments of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property”. While the reported activities are welcome, they do not amount to comprehensive responses to well-documented challenges. For example, waste management goes beyond the exemplary commitment of SPCC, and must cope with rapidly increasing amounts of solid and liquid waste, including human waste and other debris, such as discarded pipelines formerly used in the small Thamo hydropower plant. Similarly, unambiguous rules for, and systematic monitoring of, helicopter use remain to be established and are not addressed by the 2016-2020 Management Plan. Illegal firewood collection is likewise not comprehensively addressed, beyond an objective to promote alternative energy. Further work to incorporate adequate management responses to these issues in the management plan, based on the Advisory Mission recommendations, is therefore required.

The legal status of the Kongde View Resort remains unclear, despite the Supreme Court having reportedly decided its verdict, as the latter has not yet been communicated to the World Heritage Centre by the State Party and is necessary to clarify the situation. In the meantime the resort continues to operate and systematic monitoring is strongly recommended as a basis for understanding and mitigating inevitable impacts. A different set of monitoring and mitigation measures would be required in the event of a decision to demolish and rehabilitate the site of the Kongde View Resort.

It is encouraging that DNPWC and the local park authority directly engage with the UNDP-funded risk reduction project on flood and glacial lake outburst hazards. The information provided, however, makes it difficult to judge how the cultural and spiritual values and practices of local communities could be integrated in project planning, implementation and monitoring.

The map showing the property and the nationally designated buffer zone is appreciated. There is a need to distinguish zonation as a management instrument within the property and the separate issue of the adjacent buffer zone. The approved Management Plan recognizes the need for an effective internal zonation system for the property, and proposes to distinguish three different zones. This proposal should be supported, and developing such a zonation system should include adequate consultation with local communities, in particular to ensure adequate provisions for the village enclaves located within the property. While these villages are reported to be subject to the same legal provisions as the nationally designated buffer zone to the national park, the designation of a buffer zone inside the property would be impractical. This situation could be more appropriately addressed through internal zonation. The property shares boundaries with three large protected areas to the west, north and east, respectively. To the south, a buffer zone was established in 2002 at the national level, which the Management Plan explicitly recognizes along with the property. Therefore, the property enjoys surrounding legal protection. It is important to recall that a buffer zone is not formally part of an inscribed property therefore the formalization of the existing buffer zone would not result in an enlargement of the property and would not imply any constraints to local communities beyond the legal provisions that already exist at the national level.

The proposed optical fiber line and ropeway are well noted and should undergo the applicable Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs), including possible cultural and spiritual concerns. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the assessments to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, prior to making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.70

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.89, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the completion and on-going implementation of the 2016-2020 Management Plan for the property and its nationally designated buffer zone, and urges the State Party to pay particular attention to the recommendations of the 2016 Advisory mission, including but not limited to firewood collection, tourism management, management of solid and liquid waste, and unregulated and poorly controlled helicopter use resulting in noise pollution, visual impacts and disturbance of wildlife;
  4. Welcoming the information that the Supreme Court has reached a verdict regarding the Kongde View Resort, requests the State Party to submit this verdict upon its completion to the World Heritage Centre;
  5. Notes with appreciation the reported close coordination between the National Park authorities and the UNDP-funded “Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction” project, and also requests the State Party to continue monitoring of compliance with environmental measures and to fully involve local communities to ensure respect of their cultural and spiritual values and practices throughout the project cycle;
  6. Also notes with appreciation the submission of an improved map displaying the property and its nationally designated buffer zone, as well as the proposal in the Management Plan to consider introducing zonation as a management instrument within the property, and further requests the State Party to develop such a zonation system, including as a means to ensure appropriate provisions for enclave villages located within the property;
  7. Noting that consultations with local communities suggest no current support for the formalization of the nationally designated buffer zone to the national park as a buffer zone to the property, nevertheless reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to submit a minor boundary modification, consistent with the Operational Guidelines, to establish a buffer zone as such formalization will neither increase the size of the property nor impose any limitations on the local communities beyond the existing legal provisions at the national level;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to ensure that the Social and Environmental Impact Assessments for the proposed optical fibre and ropeway projects include a specific assessment of potential impacts on Outstanding Universal Value, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit the assessments to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN prior to making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.