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Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

Honduras
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • 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, drug trafficking, illegal logging, illegal commercial fishing, poaching and wildlife trade)
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Land conversion (deforestation and forest degradation)
  • Legal framework (Lawlessness and lack of law enforcement)
  • Livestock farming/grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/management plan (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
  • 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/6236

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

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

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2019

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 2019
Requests approved: 8 (from 1982-2015)
Total amount approved : 223,628 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 4 February 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documents, supplemented on 14 February 2019 by information on a hydropower project.

The State Party responds to Decision 42 COM 7A.44, as follows:

  • The Ad-Hoc Committee for the protection of the property, initially built upon Executive Decrees from 2011 and 2013, was re-activated to coordinate priority actions for the property and its surroundings. Two meetings in 2018 brought together the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, the Directorate of Indigenous People and Afro-Hondurans and numerous governmental institutions, including the Defense Forces and National Police;
  • A presidential campaign branded “SOS Honduras: Stop the Destruction of Forests” was launched on 8 November 2018 with the objective to enhance financing, capacities and coordination between sectors, institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and cooperation actors. Tangible objectives include checkpoints involving multiple agencies and the implementation of a national ranger programme;
  • Supported by the German government, the longstanding cooperation with indigenous peoples and local communities continues to allocate rights to land and access to natural resources, and to promote so-called life plans (“planes de vida”), as an integral part of the governance and management of the property and its surroundings;
  • Recognizing the conservation significance of the Honduran Mosquitia region, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) support the State Party through technical capacity-building and equipment for field personnel;
  • Overflights and ground level surveys to detect illegal activities were continued in 2018 and a cooperation agreement between the Instituto Nacional de Conservación y Desarrollo Forestal (ICF) and the Secretary of National Defense is under negotiation, aimed at strengthening monitoring and surveillance activities.

The State Party renewed its commitment to continue actions towards the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and the elaboration of a Significant Boundary Modification (SMB). An updated Tentative List was submitted, as a necessary requirement towards the future nomination.

The Patuca III hydropower project is reported to be under construction and its potential environmental impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have not been evaluated in accordance with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment. However, the State Party expresses its commitment to comply with this Committee’s request and is seeking financial assistance through international cooperation to undertake the assessment, although no resources have been secured so far.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The continued efforts to grant rights to indigenous peoples and local, including Afro-Honduran, communities in and around the property, as well as the bi-lateral cooperation in support of innovative governance and management solutions are welcomed yet again. It is recommended that the Committee commend the support of international governmental and non-governmental conservation partners, such as the WCS, GWC, and USFWS, which strongly re-affirms the extraordinary conservation significance of the property. Further, the re-activation of the Ad-Hoc Committee accompanied by the Presidential Campaign SOS Honduras is noted as another positive step.

The State Party, however, does not elaborate on the effectiveness of coordination efforts and the systemic underfunding and understaffing, which have been hampering the management and protection of the property since 1996, when the property was first inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. There is little evidence that the State Party’s response, since the second inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2011, is resulting in a turn-around of the worrying trends in this vast and remote property. Whilst acknowledging the results of earlier attempts to induce decisive change through the Ad-Hoc Committee, it will be critically important to sustain the political momentum of the Ad-Hoc Committee and the SOS Honduras Campaign and to support follow-up with adequate governmental resources, complemented by externally-funded projects.

While the activities, including those proposed in the framework of several international cooperation programmes, are welcomed, it is becoming clear that an alternative approach is required to make sufficient progress towards completing the corrective measures and achieving the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). Recalling that the Committee recommended the consideration of a Significant Boundary Modification (SBM) as a crucial step in this process and further to its general endorsement of this recommended approach, the State Party has since successfully updated its Tentative List by the inclusion of Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve. It is recommended that the Committee strongly encourage the State Party to initiate the proposal for a SBM in an adequately resourced participatory process, coordinating the many ongoing efforts, sectors, projects, governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and local communities in and around the property. Given the simultaneous recognition as a Biosphere Reserve, it will be important to harmonize the process with the formal requirements under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

In light of the Committee’s concerns about the Patuca III (Piedras Amarillas) hydropower project expressed in several decisions (including Decision 42 COM 7A.44), it is alarming that the project has advanced in its construction. While the readiness of the State Party to undertake an assessment of potential impacts of the project is noted, it is regrettable that no progress has been achieved to date in initializing the required assessment. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its utmost concern and request immediate clarification of the current situation in terms of current and potential impacts on the OUV of the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7A.4
Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) (N 196)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7A.3 and 42 COM 7A.44, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the State Party on the re-activation of the Ad-Hoc Committee dedicated to the management and protection of the property, as well as the Presidential Campaign “SOS Honduras: Stop the Destruction of Forests”;
  4. Also commends the governmental and non-governmental partners on their continued support for the conservation of the property and progress made in land titling and granting negotiated local access to natural resources in the buffer and cultural zones of the Biosphere Reserve;
  5. Notes with concern that the efforts to date have not resulted in significant progress towards achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and urges the State Party and governmental and non-governmental partners involved to ensure that the proposed activities match the scale and complexity of the well-documented challenges, in order to make progress towards the completion of the corrective measures and achievement of the DSOCR;
  6. Welcomes the inclusion in the State Party’s Tentative List of Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve as a requirement for the planned Significant Boundary Modification of the property and strongly encourages the State Party to continue the proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification as a crucial step towards achieving the DSOCR, and in particular to:
    a) Coordinate the many governmental sectors and institutions involved at various levels,
    b) Seek support from the World Heritage Centre, Advisory Bodies and other States Parties, as appropriate,
    c) Ensure the full involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities as a core component of the proposal,
    d) Guarantee full consideration of the archaeological heritage of the property and corresponding actors;
  7. Reiterates its utmost concern that the State Party did not report on the possible impacts of the Patuca III (Piedras Amarillas) hydropower project, despite repeated requests, at a time when construction is reported to be ongoing or completed, and strongly requests the State Party to immediately report on the status of the project and how it will ensure that current and potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are specifically assessed in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 44th session in 2020;
  9. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
43 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/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3.Corr),
  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 43 COM 7A.41)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision43 COM 7A.42)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 43 COM 7A.45)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 43 COM 7A.48)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.5)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.8)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.9)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.10)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.11)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 43 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.4)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.1)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 43 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 43 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 43 COM 7A.22)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 43 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 43 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 43 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 43 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 43 COM 7A.26)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 43 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 43 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 43 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 43 COM 7A.54)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 43 COM 7A.55)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 43 COM 7A.43)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 43 COM 7A.14)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 43 COM 7A.30)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 43 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 43 COM 7A.50)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 43 COM 7A.51)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.15)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 43 COM 7A.46)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 43 COM 7A.2)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 43 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 43 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 43 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 43 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 43 COM 7A.35)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 43 COM 7A.36)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 43 COM 7A.56)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 43 COM 7A.47)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.16)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.3)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 43 COM 7A.44)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 43 COM 7A.52)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 43 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 43 COM 7A.39)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 43 COM 7A.40)
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7A.4

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7A.3 and 42 COM 7A.44, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the State Party on the re-activation of the Ad-Hoc Committee dedicated to the management and protection of the property, as well as the Presidential Campaign “SOS Honduras: Stop the Destruction of Forests”;
  4. Also commends the governmental and non-governmental partners on their continued support for the conservation of the property and progress made in land titling and granting negotiated local access to natural resources in the buffer and cultural zones of the Biosphere Reserve;
  5. Notes with concern that the efforts to date have not resulted in significant progress towards achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and urges the State Party and governmental and non-governmental partners involved to ensure that the proposed activities match the scale and complexity of the well-documented challenges, in order to make progress towards the completion of the corrective measures and achievement of the DSOCR;
  6. Welcomes the inclusion in the State Party’s Tentative List of Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve as a requirement for the planned Significant Boundary Modification of the property and strongly encourages the State Party to continue the proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification as a crucial step towards achieving the DSOCR, and in particular to:
    1. Coordinate the many governmental sectors and institutions involved at various levels,
    2. Seek support from the World Heritage Centre, Advisory Bodies and other States Parties, as appropriate,
    3. Ensure the full involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities as a core component of the proposal,
    4. Guaranty full consideration of the archaeological heritage of the property and corresponding actors;
  7. Reiterates its utmost concern that the State Party did not report on the possible impacts of the Patuca III (Piedras Amarillas) hydropower project, despite repeated requests, at a time when construction is reported to be ongoing or completed, and strongly requests the State Party to immediately report on the status of the project and how it will ensure that current and potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are specifically assessed in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 44th session in 2020;
  9. Decides to retain Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2019
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 (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
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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