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Plitvice Lakes National Park

Croatia
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Air pollution
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water (extraction)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Armed conflict (issue resolved)
  • Poaching of bears (issue resolved)
  • Dynamite fishing (issue resolved)
  • Destruction of the forests and park facilities (issue resolved)
  • Impacts of tourism/visitors/recreation (possible over-visitation of the site)
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure (significant expansion of tourism facilities within the property)
  • Pollution and water contamination
  • Water extraction
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 2 (from 1992-1998)
Total amount approved : 46,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**

February 1992: IUCN expert mission; September 1992: Joint UNESCO/IUCN mission; September 1993: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission; May 1996: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2017: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 31 January 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, a summary of which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/documents/. Following the World Heritage Centre’s request on 5 February 2018, the State Party submitted further information on 7 March 2018. On 15 March 2018, the State Party submitted a draft Management Plan, including a draft Visitor Management Plan, which was commented upon by the World Heritage Centre on 19 April 2018. A State Party decision on Amendments to the Spatial Plan for the property was submitted on 18 April 2018.

Overall, the State Party reports the following:

  • Monitored by a multisector Operational Working Group (OWG), the Action Plan for improving the property’s conservation status and responding to the Committee’s requests is being implemented;
  • The State Party’s decision to amend the Spatial Plan for the property would include a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of existing, potential and cumulative impacts of the entire plan, including its proposed amendments, on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Meanwhile, new guidelines for regional authorities responsible for issuing construction permits were developed to reinforce compliance with the current Spatial Plan. As a result, since July 2017 only two building permits were issued (compared to over 50 permits approved between April 2014 and July 2017), and permits for buildings exclusively used for tourism are no longer granted;
  • The newly amended Nature Protection Act ensures that the property’s management authority, the Public Institution Plitvice Lakes National Park (PIPLNP), is involved in the issuance of building permits. The PIPLNP continues to exercise its right to purchase land in the park to pre-empt inappropriate construction;
  • In 2017, inspections of 194 cadastral plots detected 34 irregularities out of which 30 illegal facilities were requested to be removed. In addition, there were 4 cases of irregularities concerning wastewater treatment, 37 illegal simple constructions (not requiring permits) and 8 illegally built pools;
  • The ecological and chemical water quality in the property was good or high in 2014-2016, and 2017 data is being assessed;
  • Water infrastructure is planned to be upgraded through an EU-funded project, which includes relocating the water supply outside the property. Installation of a mobile wastewater treatment plant and rehabilitation of the main water supply line have been initiated as emergency measures in 2018;
  • In 2017, annual visitor numbers exceeded 1.72 million. A visitor centre is being constructed, and an E-ticketing system and limits to visitor numbers at peak times will be introduced in 2018;
  • Options for a by-pass road to avoid transit traffic through the property are formally being considered.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

In its Decision 41 COM 7B.3, the Committee considered that the significant and unsustainable expansion of tourist facilities inside the property with associated visual impacts as well as pressures on the property’s sensitive hydrogeology presented a potential danger to its OUV. It further noted that in the absence of substantial progress in addressing these threats the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger would be considered during the current session.

The State Party has made commendable progress in responding to the Committee’s concerns, resulting in strengthened regulations monitoring of compliance with construction and water permits, and a significant reduction in the number of issued building permits. It is also noted with appreciation that PIPLNP has enhanced its monitoring of aquatic ecosystems and continues to exercise its right to pre-emptively purchase land within the property. PIPLNP’s involvement in issuing building permits inside the property thanks to the amendments recently introduced to the Nature Protection Act should also be welcomed. The high number of violations of the existing legislation and permits recorded during recent inspections demonstrates the imperative of continuing these efforts. It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party’s decision to develop amendments to the Spatial Plan, which also envisages a SEA that considers impacts on OUV, including the conditions of integrity of the property and cumulative impacts, in line with decisions 40 COM 7B.95 and 41 COM 7B.3.  It is further recommended that the preparation of a new Management Plan for the property, including the Visitor Management Plan, is fully harmonized with the procedures foreseen for the SEA and for the amendments to the Spatial Plan, in order to ensure that the overall management framework is fully consistent with the protection of OUV. While the State Party’s commitment to share the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of all the planned projects with the World Heritage Centre is appreciated, it is recommended that the cumulative impacts of all known plans is nevertheless also assessed as part of the SEA.

It is also appreciated that the State Party is planning to upgrade water infrastructure in order to improve wastewater treatment and water supply management and ensure compliance with the EU Directive concerning urban wastewater treatment (UWWTD) by 2023. While noting that the installation of a mobile wastewater treatment plant and the restoration of the water supply line were initiated as an emergency measure in 2018, it is of concern that – amid water permit violations and exponentially growing tourist numbers – only 20.68% of the pollution load is currently treated in accordance with UWWTD. 

Growing visitation is likely to increase the pressure on the property’s sensitive hydro-ecological system. The draft Visitor Management Plan includes provisions for a redistribution of visitors and a limit to visitor numbers at peak times, but it focuses on the carrying capacity of the park’s infrastructure and how it could be expanded rather than on the carrying capacity of the ecosystem and the attributes that demonstrate its OUV. It is therefore recommended that the Visitor Management Plan is further elaborated in order to emphasize the preservation of the property’s OUV as the primary objective and to establish carrying capacity based on strict scientific criteria.

While substantial progress has been made, it is considered that until key outstanding actions have been completed, including the upgrade of water infrastructure, the completion of the SEA, amendments to the Spatial Plan and the finalization of the management and visitor management plans, the continued exponential growth of visitation at the property represents a potential danger to its OUV, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.74
Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia) (N 98bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.3, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for progress made to respond to the Committee’s decisions and to the 2017 mission recommendations, and urges the State Party to continue these efforts to fully implement all recommendations of the mission;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s decision to amend the Spatial Plan for Plitvice Lakes National Park which would include preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), in line with IUCN’s Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and Decisions 40 COM 7B.95 and 41 COM 7B.3, and requests the State Party to provide the results of the SEA to the World Heritage Centre, once available;
  5. Takes note of the additional guidelines on the implementation of the current Spatial Plan developed and provided to the relevant regional authorities responsible for issuance of construction permits, and the amendments to the Nature Protection Act which ensure participation of the Public Institution Plitvice Lakes National Park (PIPLNP) in decision-making processes regarding issuance of permits, and also requests the State Party to continue its efforts to strictly regulate and monitor both issuance of new permits and compliance of existing buildings with the relevant regulations;
  6. Also welcomes the preparation of a new management plan for the property, including a visitor management plan, and further requests the State Party to ensure that this process is fully harmonized with the procedures foreseen for the SEA and for amending the Spatial Plan, in order to ensure that the overall management framework is fully consistent with the protection of the OUV of the property;
  7. While noting information provided by the State Party regarding the existing plans to improve wastewater and water supply management within the property, considers that the inadequate water supply and drainage system, water pollution risks and continued exponential growth of visitation at the property continue to represent a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and therefore also urges the State Party to address all pending issues related to water and visitor management as a matter of priority;
  8. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, a progress report, and 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.
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7B.74

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.3, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for progress made to respond to the Committee’s decisions and to the 2017 mission recommendations, and urges the State Party to continue these efforts to fully implement all recommendations of the mission;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s decision to amend the Spatial Plan for Plitvice Lakes National Park which would include preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), in line with IUCN’s Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and Decisions 40 COM 7B.95 and 41 COM 7B.3, and requests the State Party to provide the results of the SEA to the World Heritage Centre, once available;
  5. Takes note of the additional guidelines on the implementation of the current Spatial Plan developed and provided to the relevant regional authorities responsible for issuance of construction permits, and the amendments to the Nature Protection Act which ensure participation of the Public Institution Plitvice Lakes National Park (PIPLNP) in decision-making processes regarding issuance of permits, and also requests the State Party to continue its efforts to strictly regulate and monitor both issuance of new permits and compliance of existing buildings with the relevant regulations;
  6. Also welcomes the preparation of a new management plan for the property, including a visitor management plan, and further requests the State Party to ensure that this process is fully harmonized with the procedures foreseen for the SEA and for amending the Spatial Plan, in order to ensure that the overall management framework is fully consistent with the protection of the OUV of the property;
  7. While noting information provided by the State Party regarding the existing plans to improve wastewater and water supply management within the property, considers that the inadequate water supply and drainage system, water pollution risks and continued exponential growth of visitation at the property continue to represent a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and therefore also urges the State Party to address all pending issues related to water and visitor management as a matter of priority;
  8. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, a progress report, and 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.
Report year: 2018
Croatia
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)
Danger List (dates): 1992-1997
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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