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Maya Site of Copan

Honduras
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • High impact research / monitoring activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Deterioration of construction materials due to natural decay phenomena

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • The foreseen construction of an airport in the vicinity of the World Heritage property in a national protected area (issue resolved)
  • Deterioration of construction materials due to natural decay phenomena
  • High impact research / monitoring activities (Risk of structural failure of archaeological complexes resulting from tunnels excavated for archaeological purposes)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (Deterioration derived from uncontrolled visitation and potential to exceed carrying capacity at specific time periods)
  • Legal framework (Legal issues concerning the ownership of the land and the delimitation of the property and its buffer zone)
  • Management systems/ management plan
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 11 (from 1979-1999)
Total amount approved : 226,513 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

1999: ICOMOS expert mission; 2003: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2004: World Heritage Centre mission; 2005: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2011: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 4 December 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/129/ and addresses the following issues:

  • The proposed buffer zone, in comparison with the map provided in 2016 and included in the Management Plan 2014-2020, is slightly extended to the east of the river. The final map is included in the State Party’s report, which also provides the delimitation of the buffer zone and a description of land ownerships and their possible use. A more extensive ‘Influence Zone’ will be established with its own regulations, in which ‘Protected Enclaves’ that mark areas around monuments will have the same level of protection as the buffer zone;
  • The 2014-2020 Management Plan has been rather effective but there were impediments to its full implementation due to a lack of adequate human, technical and financial resources. The final version of the new Management Plan will be completed by the end of 2020, while a permanent training programme will start in 2019;
  • Conservation remains the most important issue. The backbone of this action is the “Santander Program for Research and Conservation of Maya Sculpture”, which includes 3D scanning, a sculpture conservation laboratory, protective shelters, and collection management and training, and is attended by researchers from Harvard University, the Spanish Institute for Cultural Heritage (IPCE), ICCROM, ICOMOS, National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)-Mexico and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The development of a conservation plan for the tunnels is underway, based on the results of a symposium that was held in November 2017. Options to partially refill and rebury the tunnels are being studied;
  • With regard to public use, the carrying capacity of the property has been established at 1.742 visitors at any given time. Policies are being drawn up for visitor management and interpretation. The participation of local communities is now seen as an essential element of site management and agreements have been reached with the village of Copan, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, and indigenous peoples organizations. Educational programmes and local employment are being promoted;
  • The final design for the protective structure of the “Hieroglyphic Stairway” has been chosen. The new design, entitled the “Cascading Sails”, will allow more visibility, better air flow, and easier maintenance and repair than the shelter installed in 1985. A meeting will be held in 2019 to finalize the design, schedule construction and define funding requirements;
  • Road CA11 that traverses the buffer zone and also serves as the access road to the property was resurfaced under the supervision of the Honduran Institute for Anthropology and History (IHAH) Precautionary measures were taken and no impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been reported. The river was dredged over 200 meters to recover material for the road construction. No impact on the OUV of the property has been reported. Furthermore, after excavations did not reveal any archaeological remains, the construction of a building for the Kanazawa University was approved outside the buffer zone and east of the Sepulturas site.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The State Party should be commended for its comprehensive report and on the advances made in addressing the factors affecting the property identified in earlier reports and Committee decisions.

The State Party submitted a Minor Boundary Modification relating to the buffer zone that will be examined by the World Heritage Committee under item 8 of the Agenda (Document WHC/19/43.COM/8B). More detailed information on the wider ‘Influence Zone’ should be requested from the State Party.

It is appreciated that the conservation of sculptures and materials, of which the “Hieroglyphic Stairway” is the most important component, is the subject of important research and international cooperation. Advanced 3D technology is being used for their documentation. A conservation laboratory has been established and protective measures taken, when appropriate. It is noted with satisfaction that the yearlong research on the most appropriate protective measures of the Hieroglyphic Stairway is coming to a conclusion with the design of the “Cascading Sails”. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the results of the meeting that will be held in 2019, as well as details of decisions made regarding the protective structure’s construction, and its future maintenance and monitoring programmes. It is noted that progress has been made in the preparation of the conservation plan for the tunnels and that this also considers partial refill and reburial.

Overall visitor numbers to the property are presently well below the carrying capacity that has been established. IHAH should be congratulated for the sustainable tourism strategy it is developing, which includes stakeholder participation, interpretation, and spreading of visitors across the property.

It should be noted that the above-mentioned actions are being developed in parallel to the elaboration of a new Management Plan that will enter into force in 2021. The information provided in the report shows that IHAH has a clear view of management requirements in the context of the World Heritage Convention. It may be expected that the new Management Plan will be finalized in a timely manner and that it will incorporate all necessary components. The final version of the Plan should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it becomes available for review. 

The finalization and full implementation of the new Management Plan and related programmes, including the protective structure of the “Hieroglyphic Stairway” and the conservation plan for the tunnels would require the provision of necessary human, technical and financial resources.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.100
Maya Site of Copan (Honduras) (C 129)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.62, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for the progress made in the implementation of its decisions and for addressing the factors affecting the property identified earlier;
  4. Notes the State Party’s submission of a Minor Boundary Modification for the property for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  5. Requests the State Party to provide detailed information on the wider ‘Influence Zone’;
  6. Urges the State Party to continue the elaboration of the new Management Plan that will enter into force in 2021 and to secure the human, technical and financial resources required for its finalization and implementation, and to submit a final version of this new Management Plan as soon as it becomes available, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Also requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed of:
    1. the development of the conservation plan for the tunnels,
    2. the decisions on the implementation, maintenance and monitoring of the protective structure of the “Hieroglyphic Stairway”,
    3. the preparation of a sustainable tourism strategy,
    4. any other development projects that may have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  8. Finally 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 review by the Advisory Bodies.
43 COM 8B.53
Maya Site of Copan (Honduras)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/19/43.COM/8B.Add and WHC/19/43.COM/INF.8B1.Add,
  2. Refers the proposed buffer zone for the Maya Site of Copan, Honduras, back to the State Party in order to allow it to:
    1. Complete the map showing the proposed buffer zone with a comprehensive legend and the localisation of the area of influence and the eleven protective enclaves,
    2. Provide more detailed information on the legislation regulating the property, the buffer zone and the area of influence,
    3. Specify how the regulation of the buffer zone will be enforced and how and when an agreement with all the landowners will be reached.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.100

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.62, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for the progress made in the implementation of its decisions and for addressing the factors affecting the property identified earlier;
  4. Notes the State Party’s submission of a Minor Boundary Modification for the property for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  5. Requests the State Party to provide detailed information on the wider ‘Influence Zone’;
  6. Urges the State Party to continue the elaboration of the new Management Plan that will enter into force in 2021 and to secure the human, technical and financial resources required for its finalization and implementation, and to submit a final version of this new Management Plan as soon as it becomes available, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Also requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed of:
    1. the development of the conservation plan for the tunnels,
    2. the decisions on the implementation, maintenance and monitoring of the protective structure of the “Hieroglyphic Stairway”,
    3. the preparation of a sustainable tourism strategy,
    4. any other development projects that may have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  8. Finally 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 review by the Advisory Bodies.
Report year: 2019
Honduras
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
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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