Gough and Inaccessible Islands (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (N 740bis)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1995
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/740/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/740/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Invasive/alien terrestrial species (mice) (issue mentioned since 1999)
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/740/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018
On 1 December 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report for the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/740/documents/, and provides the following updates:
- A feasibility study for the eradication of house mice (Mus musculus) from Gough Island has been conducted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), which showed that eradication is feasible. The operational phase of the project is expected to commence in 2019. A two-year follow-up programme upon completion of the eradication work will also be undertaken;
- £4 million (ca. USD 5.7 million) of the estimated budget for the eradication programme has been secured through government commitments, grants and donations, and RSPB is continuing its efforts to secure the remaining funds;
- The proposed methodology, developed using best practice in New Zealand, will apply rodent bait pellets containing anticoagulant brodifacoum across the island using helicopters. In addition, a captive management plan will guide the efforts to mitigate the risks of primary poisoning of the Gough Moorhen and the Gough Bunting, which are the two endemic land birds on the island, by holding representative individuals of the species in captivity on the island to avoid exposure to baits for the required period;
- The invasive plant, procumbent pearlwort (Sagina procumbens), is currently found on a limited area of the island, and a review of the current progress of its eradication programme will be published by RSPB in early 2018 to inform future work.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
It is recommended that the Committee welcome the planned implementation of the house mice eradication programme on Gough Island in 2019. However, it is of concern that the full amount of the estimated budget has not been secured yet. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that the current funding gap is addressed. The undertaking of the feasibility study for the eradication of house mice, and the efforts towards protecting the endemic land bird species, which are part of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, is greatly appreciated.
Considering the significance of the island for a number of important seabird species including the critically endangered Tristan Albatross, it is imperative that potential impacts on these species are also mitigated and monitored. Therefore, it is important that the State Party keep the World Heritage Centre informed of the results of the eradication campaign and progress to avoid collateral impact on any non-target species, especially on those that are critical for the property’s OUV.
The ongoing work to eradicate the procumbent pearlwort is appreciated and it is recommended that the review of the effectiveness of its eradication programme be submitted to the World Heritage Centre once it is available.
The experience and lessons learned from eradication projects on the property would be very informative for other World Heritage properties with invasive alien species in island ecosystems, and it is therefore recommended that the State Party be encouraged to share its experiences on its eradication programmes.
Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.81
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.103, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
- Welcomes the planned implementation of the house mice (Mus musculus) eradication programme on Gough Island in 2019, and requests the State Party to ensure adequate funding to fully implement the programme as a matter of urgency;
- Appreciates that a feasibility study for the eradication of house mice has been undertaken and that the captive management of two endemic land bird species is being planned to mitigate risk of poisoning of these species, and also requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed on the results of the mice eradication programme and on progress to avoid collateral impact on any non-target species, particularly those that are components of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value;
- Further requests the State Party to submit the review of the effectiveness of the eradication programme for the invasive plant species, procumbent pearlwort (Sagina procumbens) to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available;
- Encourages the State Party to share its experience on invasive alien species eradication programmes to promote knowledge exchange with other States Parties facing similar challenges;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, a progress report to confirm that funding has been secured for the eradication programme and its implementation has started on schedule, and by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.