1.         South China Karst (China) (N 1248bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2007

Criteria  (vii)(viii)

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/1248/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 20,100
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1248/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1248/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 29 November 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, including an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Planned Guiyang‐Nanning High‐speed Railway, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1248/documents. This report highlights progress on a number of conservation issues raised by the Committee at its previous session, as follows:

Further to addressing the issues raised within the Committee Decision, the State Party also stated its willingness to comply with the appropriate processes required for a boundary modification of Wulong Karst, in conformity with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines, as requested by the World Heritage Centre in January 2017.

In response to media articles that report the construction of the Guiyang‐Nanning High‐Speed Railway project appears to have started in 2016, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party on 29 April 2019, requesting verification of this information. On 24 May 2019, the State Party responded to the letter confirming construction has proceeded in line with the commitment to conserve and protect the OUV of the property.  

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party’s progress towards establishing an integrated, coordinated management system for the serial components of the property, particularly through implementation of the 2016 CMP‐SCK, as well as ongoing progress in addressing impacts from tourism, water pollution, agriculture and urban development, is welcome.

Various measures put in place to monitor upstream water pollution and agricultural activities, and the reported gradual improvement in water quality, are noted. The reported progress on managing tourism impacts is welcome, however it remains unclear how the effectiveness of these management measures is being monitored.

The State Party’s decision to abandon the renovation and expansion of the two existing roads crossing Shilin Karst and its buffer zone, along with its overall commitment to preserving the OUV, is appreciated.

The confirmation that the high-speed railway project is under construction is noted, along with the conclusion of the EIA that the project will not affect the OUV of the property, despite some environmental impacts in the buffer zone. The environmental management plan should ensure that any negative impacts are addressed, and the plan should include appropriate measures to prevent the accidental introduction of invasive alien species that could impact native endangered flora inside the property. Noting that one of the main objectives of the railway is to improve accessibility to the property, the potential for further construction of local tourism facilities to distribute the pressure resulting from increased visitation is of concern. Such increases in tourism pressure and infrastructure could have potential adverse impacts on wildlife habitats in the buffer zone and the property. The Committee should request the State Party to assess, monitor and manage the potential long-term cumulative impacts of increased tourism pressure on the OUV of the property, in alignment with the overall tourism strategy.

The relocation of Wukeshu Village is reported to have been consultative and voluntary and to have included: a 2-year consultation process; the relocation of many households that signed the Compensation and Resettlement Agreement; financial compensation from government; sustainable energy facilities; support for housing and indigenous cultural practices; and employment opportunities. Any relocation programmes should be in line with the policies in the framework of the World Heritage Convention, in particular the 2015 World Heritage and Sustainable Development Policy and relevant international standards. Recalling the Committee’s previous concerns about general tourism impacts on this property, and noting that tourism is the main source of income for Wukeshu, it is critical that ongoing development balances the importance of sustainable, tourism-based livelihoods for local people against the potential for negative impacts on the property’s OUV associated with tourism.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.4

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.26, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the State Party’s progress towards an integrated, coordinated management system for the property, including the ongoing implementation of the 2016 Conservation and Management Plan of South China Karst World Natural Heritage Site (CMP‐SCK);
  4. Notes with appreciation the continued progress in addressing impacts from tourism, water pollution, agriculture and urban development through the implementation of the CMP-SCK, and urges again the State Party to closely monitor the effectiveness of measures taken;
  5. Also notes with appreciation the State Party’s decision to abandon the renovation and expansion projects of the two existing roads crossing Shilin Karst and its Buffer Zone, which may have a negative impact on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and its commitment to report any future developments to the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Acknowledges the reported assessment of environmental impacts of the Guiyang‐Nanning High‐Speed Railway, which commenced in 2016 and crosses the buffer zone of Libo Karst, concluding that the project would not affect the OUV of the property, but requests however the State Party to address any impact on the buffer zone, any potential impact of invasive alien species on the property, and that it assess, monitor and manage the potential long-term cumulative impacts of increased tourism pressure on the OUV of the property;
  7. Further notes with appreciation the information provided about the relocation processes followed for Wukeshu Village, in particular to ensure that the relocation was carried out with the consent of the population concerned, and also requests the State Party to ensure that any such relocation programmes are in line with the 2015 World Heritage and Sustainable Development Policy and relevant international standards;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, 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.