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Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

Honduras
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Financial resources
  • Human resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Financial resources
  • Human resources
  • Illegal activities (Illegal settlements, Illegal livestock grazing and agricultural encroachment, Illegal logging, Illegal commercial fishing, Poaching)
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework (Lawlessness and lack of law enforcement)
  • Livestock farming/grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/management plan (Management deficiencies, Lack of clarity of the boundaries of the property, Lack of clarity regarding land tenure and access to natural resources)
  • Water infrastructure (Potential impacts from hydroelectric development projects Patuca I,II and III)
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Deforestation and forest degradation
  • Overlap with important archaeological sites implying a need to harmonize management of cultural and natural heritage
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Illegal logging
  • Illegal occupation
  • Lack of clarity regarding land tenure
  • Reduced capacity of the State Party
  • General deterioration of law and order and the security situation in the region
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6236 

Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4439  

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6236 

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted: USD 80,000 (in addition to approximately USD 100,000 of in-kind technical assistance) under the management effectiveness assessment project “Enhancing our Heritage” 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 8 (from 1982-2015)
Total amount approved : 223,628 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 2 February 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report including an annexed report on the Patuca III hydroelectric project, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documents. An Advisory mission financed by the World Heritage Fund was undertaken to the property in October 2017 with the objective to support the State Party on its path towards the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The mission report is also available at the above link.

The State Party’s report responds to Decision 41 COM 7A.3 as follows:

  • The Honduran Institute for Conservation, Forest Development, Protected Areas and Wildlife (ICF) continues to cooperate with the German government to consolidate mechanisms aiming at the promotion of more sustainable land and resource use, such as land registers, user agreements, community-based forest management and local watershed management agreements;
  • In an effort to further clarify land and access rights, usufruct agreements continue to be formalized with individual resource users and communities engaged in forest management in the buffer zone of the biosphere reserve;
  • In the cultural zone of the biosphere reserve, the ongoing land titling process in favor of the Miskito and Pech indigenous peoples has so far resulted in the titling of more than 400,000 ha;
  • Supported by German cooperation, the ICF and Miskito and Pech peoples are starting to elaborate so-called life plans (planes de vida) – participatory plans aiming at guiding all aspects of community life at the level of territorial councils;
  • The ICF and the Afro-Honduran Garífuna Council BARAUDA have signed a cooperation agreement with the objective to promote conservation and management of the Garífuna territory within the biosphere reserve; studies are underway to formalize land titling in the Garífuna community of Plaplaya;
  • The ICF is collaborating with indigenous federations on natural resource management protocols aiming at harmonizing the legal norms in place with local indigenous worldviews;
  • The establishment of military detachments supporting monitoring activities in areas of greatest pressure is presented as a mechanism to enhance management and conservation on the ground despite acknowledged resource limitations;
  • The commitment to the Committee’s recommendation to embark on a Significant Boundary Modification and to combine this procedure with the efforts towards the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger is renewed;
  • Basic descriptive information and a timeline of events is provided on the Patuca III project.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The granting of rights to indigenous peoples and local, including Afro-Honduran, communities is welcomed, also as one step towards compliance with the corrective measures adopted by the Committee.  Likewise, the continuation of bi-lateral cooperation in support of innovative governance and management solutions is appreciated.  While the consolidation of local rights and responsibilities entails some delegation of governmental tasks, systemic underfunding and understaffing remain unresolved challenges. Sustained governmental funding continues to be a priority need, especially in light of the volatility of project funding, and in order to ensure adequate law enforcement, including in the core zone of the biosphere reserve, presence on the ground and systematic monitoring, harmonized under the existing integrated monitoring system (SIMONI). The risk of further illegal settlements in the core zone of the biosphere reserve and the property remains high. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its recommendation that the State Party maintain overflights and ground level surveys to detect illegal activities and new settlements as early as possible to enable immediate responses.

Despite still unclear boundaries, it is undisputed that the property and its buffer zone are located within the internationally recognized Biosphere Reserve. The efforts to grant meaningful local rights in the biosphere reserve therefore amount to an entirely new approach to the governance and management of the property. This changing reality is to be fully reflected in all efforts towards the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and the parallel Significant Boundary Modification. It is welcomed that the State Party endorses the Committee’s consideration to manage both processes as one coherent effort on the understanding that a Significant Boundary Modification will have to follow the procedures of a new nomination. The State Party accurately points out that both processes require full local and indigenous consent to avoid that the boundary modification be interpreted as challenging existing sensitive management and tenure arrangements currently being agreed upon with indigenous peoples and local communities. However, to achieve the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger - in line with the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from this list (DSOCR) adopted in 2015 - it is neither possible nor desirable to re-create the exact same boundaries that existed at the time of the property’s inscription in 1982. The boundary modification is a key element towards the removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger; both aim at satisfying currently unmet World Heritage requirements, while fully respecting the fundamentally altered governance and management approach and the evolving terms of engagement between governmental institutions and local communities and indigenous peoples. It is recommended that the Committee strongly encourage the State Party to initiate a participatory process to elaborate a proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification serving to consolidate promising changes in management and governance. Both the new nomination and the efforts to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger must demonstrate the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Río Plátano in a spatial configuration to be defined and according to the evolving governance and management. This implies not only the need to comply with World Heritage criteria, but also to meet the conditions of integrity and to have an adequate management system. In line with Paragraph 119 of the Operational Guidelines, it must be ensured that any sustainable use will not impact adversely on the property’s OUV.

The information provided to date on the Patuca III (Piedras Amarillas) hydropower project does not address potential impacts on the OUV of the property, which is among the adopted corrective measures and has been requested in several past Committee decisions. The commitment of the ICF to request that the Dirección General de Evaluación y Control Ambiental (General Direction for Environmental Evaluation and Control) provide recommendations focused on the project’s potential impacts to OUV is however noted. It is regrettable that earlier research on environmental flows to identify possible mitigation options does not appear to have continued. It is recommended that the Committee express its utmost concern about the apparent lack of information on possible impacts of the project on the property and the biosphere reserve, and request that the project not proceed until the above-mentioned assessment is concluded and reviewed by the Advisory Bodies. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7A.44
Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) (N 196)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 41st session (Kraków, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party and governmental and non-governmental partners on continued progress made in land titling and granting negotiated local access to natural resources in the buffer and cultural zones of the biosphere reserve, encourages the State Party and partners involved to consolidate the innovative and promising governance mechanisms and urges the State Party to develop an effective and funded exit strategy to sustain these advances beyond the duration of external project support;
  4. Reiterates its strong concern that human, financial and logistical resources allocated by the State Party continue to be insufficient to ensure systematic law enforcement, presence on the ground and adequate monitoring of the property;
  5. Reiterates its recommendation that the State Party maintain the overflights and ground level surveys to detect illegal activities and illegal new settlements as early as possible to enable immediate responses, avoiding evictions after the full establishment of settlements;
  6. Also urges the State Party to take concrete steps to follow up on the updated conclusions and recommendations facilitated by the 2017 Advisory mission regarding the Significant Boundary Modification and the efforts to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger - in line with the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) adopted in 2015 - with the technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as required;
  7. Welcomes the acknowledgement of the possible benefits of a Significant Boundary Modification by the State Party, while fully respecting the interests, rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples, Afro-Honduran and Ladino (mestizo) communities;
  8. Expresses its utmost concern that the State Party did not report on the possible impacts of the Patuca III project despite repeated requests, and requests the State Party to ensure that current and potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are specifically assessed urgently, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to ensure that the project will not proceed before this assessment is completed;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 43rd session in 2019;
  10. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
42 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 42 COM 7A.1)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 42 COM 7A.2)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 42 COM 7A.5)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 42 COM 7A.8)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.45)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 42 COM 7A.9)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.46)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.47)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.48)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.49)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.50)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.51)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 42 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.44)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.40)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 42 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 42 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 42 COM 7A.21)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 42 COM 7A.22)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 42 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 42 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 42 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 42 COM 7A.26)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 42 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 42 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 42 COM 7A.14)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 42 COM 7A.15)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 42 COM 7A.3)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 42 COM 7A.54)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 42 COM 7A.27)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 42 COM 7A.29)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 42 COM 7A.28)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 42 COM 7A.10)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 42 COM 7A.11)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.55)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 42 COM 7A.6)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 42 COM 7A.41)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 42 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 42 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 42 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 42 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 42 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 42 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 42 COM 7A.16)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 42 COM 7A.7)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.56)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.42)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 42 COM 7A.4)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 42 COM 7A.12)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 42 COM 7A.37)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 42 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 42 COM 7A.39)
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7A.44

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 41st session (Kraków, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party and governmental and non-governmental partners on continued progress made in land titling and granting negotiated local access to natural resources in the buffer and cultural zones of the biosphere reserve, encourages the State Party and partners involved to consolidate the innovative and promising governance mechanisms and urges the State Party to develop an effective and funded exit strategy to sustain these advances beyond the duration of external project support;
  4. Reiterates its strong concern that human, financial and logistical resources allocated by the State Party continue to be insufficient to ensure systematic law enforcement, presence on the ground and adequate monitoring of the property;
  5. Reiterates its recommendation that the State Party maintain the overflights and ground level surveys to detect illegal activities and illegal new settlements as early as possible to enable immediate responses, avoiding evictions after the full establishment of settlements;
  6. Also urges the State Party to take concrete steps to follow up on the updated conclusions and recommendations facilitated by the 2017 Advisory mission regarding the Significant Boundary Modification and the efforts to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger - in line with the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) adopted in 2015 - with the technical support of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as required;
  7. Welcomes the acknowledgement of the possible benefits of a Significant Boundary Modification by the State Party, while fully respecting the interests, rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples, Afro-Honduran and Ladino (mestizo) communities;
  8. Expresses its utmost concern that the State Party did not report on the possible impacts of the Patuca III project despite repeated requests, and requests the State Party to ensure that current and potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are specifically assessed urgently, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to ensure that the project will not proceed before this assessment is completed;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 43rd session in 2019;
  10. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2018
Honduras
Date of Inscription: 1982
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1996-2007, 2011-present
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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