1.         Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) (N 196)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1996-2007, 2011-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

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 identified

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 

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1982-2015)
Total amount approved: USD 223,628
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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” 

Previous monitoring missions

November 1995 and October 2000: IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions; 2003, 2006 and 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions; October 2017: Advisory mission facilitated by the World Heritage Centre

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/196/

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 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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

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.

Decision Adopted: 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:
    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.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 8C.2

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: