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Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park

Costa Rica, Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Illegal activities
  • Land conversion
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of a long-term biological monitoring program

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Water infrastructure - Construction of hydroelectric dams near the property in Panama and associated effects (greater human presence near the property, interruption of aquatic species migratory corridor) - Approval of a new hydropower project (Changuinola II or CHAN 140) without prior finalization of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the entire property
  • Lack of a long-term biological monitoring program to implement mitigation measures that minimize the negative impacts on the property caused by hydroelectric projects
  • Land conversion (Encroachment) and Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals (settlements, cattle ranching)
  • Planned road construction, which would traverse the property on the side of Panama (issue resolved)
  • Illegal activities
  • Management systems / management plan
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2019

Total amount granted: USD 30 000 from the Rapid Response Facility

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 9 (from 1982-1997)
Total amount approved : 276,350 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

February 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2013: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2016: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 30 November 2018, the States Parties of Costa Rica and Panama submitted a joint report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/205/documents/ and notes the following progress:

  • Efforts towards combating illegal activities within the property are ongoing through extensive patrolling, including aerial surveillance and binational patrols in places with high incidence of illicit activities. By mid-2018, no complaints had been lodged for infringement of the environmental legislation or for environmental damage;
  • Bilateral collaboration and management have been strengthened through joint meetings of the Binational Executing Technical Unit for the Management of the property (UTEB-PILA), which underwent recent regulation changes to improve its operations. Both States Parties are currently working towards updating the La Amistad International Park (PILA) Management Plan, including on cooperation and management of the property;
  • The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Panamanian side of the property has been completed and approved, whilst the process remains ongoing for the Costa Rican side. Given the limited experience of both States Parties with developing SEAs, technical support was requested from the IUCN Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (ORMACC). A training session held in September 2018 led to Costa Rica developing Terms of Reference for the preparation of the transboundary SEA and readjusting the bidding guidelines for the process. The overall SEA for the entire property will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre once the process in Costa Rica is completed and approved;
  • To date, there is no report of the re-activation of the Changuinola II (CHAN II) dam project, however the State Party of Panama reiterates that this type of project is allowed in the zone where the project was to be located (Intensive Use zone of the Palo Seco Protected Forest) and is based on the national planning for the energy sector in Panama, developed in the 1970s (i.e. pre-inscription);
  • Several monitoring activities related to the Chan 75 (or CHAN I) and Bonyic dams were carried out in 2017-2018, including monitoring of mammal species and forest structure. In the area of CHAN I dam, information has been collected, which can be used for the maintenance of fish and shrimp species richness and composition upstream of the dam through repopulation activities.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The States Parties’ continued efforts to combat illegal activities within the property and strengthen institutional arrangements towards better bilateral cooperation and management are appreciated.

Whilst it is noted that the project for the Changuinola II dam (CHAN II) has not been re-activated to date, there is no confirmation from the State Party of Panama that the decision to cancel the contract has officially entered into force, nor whether this cancellation means that the project has been abandoned, as requested by the World Heritage Committee.

Progress towards finalizing the integrated transboundary SEA requested by the Committee is noted, namely that the process has been completed and approved for the Panamanian side of the property and remains in progress for the Costa Rican part, including through cooperation with the IUCN ORMACC Office to build capacity of the relevant actors in the field of SEA. While the commitment of the States Parties to ensure the SEA is properly developed is welcomed, it is of concern that the SEA for the entire property was not finalized by 2018, as requested by the Committee. It is recommended that the Committee request the States Parties to finalize the overall SEA for the entire property in 2019 for submission at the earliest possible date.

It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its position, in line with its Decision 40 COM 7 (Paragraph 17), that any development of new hydropower projects prior to the finalization and adequate review of the SEA for the entire property would represent a danger to the OUV of the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and would lead to its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Regarding monitoring activities related to the Bonyic and CHAN I dams, it is noted that the Hidroecológica del Teribe S.A. (Bonyic) and AES Changuinola (CHAN I) have been requested to present a detailed report of the Biological-Ecological Program required as part of the concession contract commitments. A number of studies were carried out for the 2017-2018 period, generating important information on the specific composition of fish and shrimp upstream of the CHAN I dam, which would, as reported, constitute an important basis for planning future potential repopulation activities as part of measures aimed at mitigating impacts. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Panama to continue these efforts, to establish long-term monitoring programmes for the two projects so as to evaluate the effectiveness of the mitigation measures, and to ensure that the results of this monitoring are taken into account when finalizing the overall SEA for the entire property. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.25
Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (Costa Rica, Panama) (N 205bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.13, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the States Parties’ ongoing efforts to combat illegal activities within the property, to strengthen institutional arrangements towards better bilateral cooperation and management, and to update the Management Plan in both countries;
  4. Takes note with satisfaction that the construction project of the Changuinola II (CHAN II) dam has not been re-activated to date, but also regrets that the State Party of Panama did not provide definitive information regarding the status of the project, and also reiterates its request to the State Party of Panama to confirm whether the contract has been cancelled and to clarify whether plans for this hydropower project have been abandoned;
  5. Noting with appreciation the completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Panamanian part of the property and the initiation of the process for the Costa Rican part, however regrets that the SEA for the entire property was not completed in 2018 as requested by the Committee and requests the States Parties to finalize the SEA for the entire property in 2019 and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, as soon as it becomes available;
  6. Also recalling Decision 40 COM 7 (Paragraph 17), adopted at its 40th session in 2016, reiterates its position that any development of new hydropower projects prior to the finalization and review by IUCN of the SEA for the entire property would represent a danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and would lead to its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Noting the efforts of the State Party of Panama to monitor activities of the CHAN I dam and the Bonyic dam, reiterates its request to the State Party to continue these efforts and to establish long-term monitoring programmes for the projects to evaluate the effectiveness of the mitigation measures, and to ensure that the results of this monitoring are taken into account when finalizing the overall SEA for the entire property;
  8. Also requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated joint 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.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.25

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.13, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the States Parties’ ongoing efforts to combat illegal activities within the property, to strengthen institutional arrangements towards better bilateral cooperation and management, and to update the Management Plan in both countries;
  4. Takes note with satisfaction that the construction project of the Changuinola II (CHAN II) dam has not been re-activated to date, but also regrets that the State Party of Panama did not provide definitive information regarding the status of the project, and also reiterates its request to the State Party of Panama to confirm whether the contract has been cancelled and to clarify whether plans for this hydropower project have been abandoned;
  5. Noting with appreciation the completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Panamanian part of the property and the initiation of the process for the Costa Rican part, however regrets that the SEA for the entire property was not completed in 2018 as requested by the Committee and requests the States Parties to finalize the SEA for the entire property in 2019 and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, as soon as it becomes available;
  6. Also recalling Decision 40 COM 7 (Paragraph 17), adopted at its 40th session in 2016, reiterates its position that any development of new hydropower projects prior to the finalization and review by IUCN of the SEA for the entire property would represent a danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and would lead to its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Noting the efforts of the State Party of Panama to monitor activities of the CHAN I dam and the Bonyic dam, reiterates its request to the State Party to continue these efforts and to establish long-term monitoring programmes for the projects to evaluate the effectiveness of the mitigation measures, and to ensure that the results of this monitoring are taken into account when finalizing the overall SEA for the entire property;
  8. Also requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated joint 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.
Report year: 2019
Costa Rica Panama
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .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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