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Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Lack of established boundaries and buffer zones

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing (encroachments and urban pressure)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (tourism pressure -particularly at Portobelo)
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan (absence of a conservation and management plan)
  • Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning
  • Legal framework
  • Lack of established boundaries and buffer zones
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning
  • Erosion
  • Lack of established boundaries and buffer zone
  • Absence of a conservation and management plan
  • Encroachments and urban pressure
  • Tourism pressure (particularly at Portobelo)
  • Insufficient legislation for the preservation of built heritage and regulations combining the two components of the property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Updated and adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/7183
Revised timeframe proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 4 (from 1980-1993)
Total amount approved : 76,800 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

1993: technical mission; November 2001, March 2009, March 2010: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions; February 2014: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 27 January 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/documents and provides information on the implementation of the corrective measures and progress achieved in 2019. Subsequently, the State Party submitted on 23 February 2021 a state of conservation report, providing updated information on the advances of the implementation of the corrective measures, as follows:

  • Within the framework of the project financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) the Terms of Reference of the integral Management Plan was under revision by the newly created Ministry of Culture;
  • The General Law on Culture of the Republic of Panama (Law No. 175) was approved and enacted on November 2020;
  • The proposed integral Management Plan would include other planning tools: Public Use Plan, Carrying Capacity Study, Economic Sustainability Plan, Tourism Promotion Plan, and an Interpretation Plan of Portobelo fortresses. The development of the new Management Plan is scheduled to be tendered in 2021;
  • In the framework of the IDB project, consolidation works of the Fortifications have been outlined for San Lorenzo Castle and its Upper Battery, San Jeronimo Fortifications and San Fernando Fortifications. Conservation projects for San Jeronimo, San Fernando and Santiago Fortifications, and Old Santiago Fortress are scheduled to begin in 2022;
  • Progress was reported regarding the Minor Boundary Modification proposal. The complete proposal is expected to be finalized by the end of 2021;
  • Progress is reported on the project of construction of the San Lorenzo Visitor Center. The first stage of the project execution was completed in 2019; the project is expected to continue in 2021. New visitor facilities were inaugurated in June 2019;
  • Other actions undertaken outside the scope of the IDB project are reported, such as the preparation of the Territorial Planning document for Portobelo with the aim of reducing existing urban pressure on the fortifications, the elaboration of a Participatory Community Development Plan, the update of the Tourism Development Plan for Portobelo and the creation of the Integral Development Office of Portobelo (ODEIPO);
  • Other initiatives are also reported, such as the creation of natural interpretive trails in the Protective Forest of San Lorenzo, the opening of a new bridge over the Panama Canal and road rehabilitation works to access the Castle of San Lorenzo.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The important contribution provided by the IDB through the project “Support for the conservation and management of cultural heritage” foreseen to be implemented over a four-year period (2019-2023) is noted as an important support to the property.

It is important to note that since August 2019, the newly elected Government elevated the National Institute of Culture (Instituto Nacional de Cultura - INAC) to the rank of Ministry of Culture. The State Party expressed its hope that the new status, with permanent representation in the Cabinet Council, will provide greater strength and economic support to cultural management. Furthermore, the approval of the new General Law of Culture of the Republic of Panama has been achieved on 3 November 2020, which includes the new regulation for the management of historical sites.

The State Party has expressed its commitment to the implementation of the corrective measures to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, according to the established timeframe 2019-2023. However, some of the planned activities have been delayed, due to the pandemic sanitary restrictions declared in the country in March 2020. The following activities have been scheduled for the year 2021: the consolidation works of the San Lorenzo Castle which started in September 2020, and the tendering of the Management Plan of the property. For 2022 it is planned to initiate the works of containment of the slopes of Portobelo, the development of intervention plans for the Santiago Battery in Portobelo, the consolidation works at Fort San Jeronimo and Fort San Fernando and the development of intervention plans for the Santiago de la Gloria Castle in Portobelo.

Within the framework of the IDB project, the development of the new integral Management Plan has been delayed. In this regard, it is regrettable that the integral Management Plan, with its different component plans, is not yet in place, and it is considered of utmost importance to finalize it and submit it to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available for review by the Advisory Bodies.

Regarding the preliminary information submitted for a future Minor Boundary Modification (MBM), the progress is noted regarding the proposed boundaries for each fortification, as well as individual buffer zones. An Agreement of Use and Administration between the Municipality of Portobelo and the Ministry of Culture was signed in February 2020, and also pending tasks regarding management arrangements were addressed. While the State Party informs that the complete MBM proposal is expected to be finalized by the end of 2021, it is important that the State Party take into account the technical comments to be provided by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in the finalization of the proposal. The 2014 ICOMOS Advisory mission advised to unify the buffer zone for Portobelo so as to include the Bay and the town of Portobelo. For San Lorenzo, for obvious defensive-related reasons, the buffer zone should include the fort’s visual area of coverage of the mouth of the Chagres River.

The creation of the inter-agency Office for Integral Development of Portobelo (ODEIPO), to be in charge of coordinating the actions undertaken in the IDB loan, is welcomed, as is the development of planning tools for the buffer zone and its territorial context, such as the Territorial Planning document with the aim of reducing existing urban pressure,  the Modernization Plan for Heritage Management and the finalization of the Community Development Plan. All these tools could benefit the management of the property, including its wider context. It is recommended that the Committee invite the State Party to finalize and implement these tools and ensure their articulation in an efficient manner.

Regarding the conservation projects included in the Emergency Plan for San Lorenzo Castle, San Jeronimo Fortification, San Fernando Fortification, Santiago Fortification and Old Santiago Fortress, the elaboration of the roadmap of these interventions originally scheduled for the second half of 2020 was an important step forward. In this regard, it is noted that the conservation project in San Lorenzo Castle and its Upper Battery was initiated in 2020, while it is also noted that the other projects have been scheduled for 2022. On this issue, it is important that the State Party provide further information regarding the concrete implementation of these projects.

The improvement of infrastructure and tourist facilities is noted, regarding the opening to transit of the new bridge over the Panama Canal, the San Lorenzo Visitor Center and the new visitor facilities inaugurated in 2019. Recalling that tourism pressure was one of the factors that led to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, it is important to address the potential impact of the proposed infrastructure projects and to make sure these improvements are in full coherence with the conservation needs, carrying capacity and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7A.36
Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) (C 135)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.50, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Acknowledging the important contribution of the project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the conservation and management of the property, takes note of the commitment by the State Party to implement the corrective measures within the established 2019-2023 timeframe;
  4. Welcomes the approval of the General Law on Culture, and the elaboration of the roadmap for the conservation projects foreseen in the IDB project for the different components of the property, and requests the State Party to provide further detailed information regarding the concrete implementation of these activities;
  5. Taking note of the progress made towards preparing a proposal of a Minor Boundary Modification, also requests the State Party to submit a formal request, as per Paragraphs 162 and 164 of the Operational Guidelines, taking into consideration the advice that is provided by ICOMOS in this regard;
  6. Also taking note of the creation of the inter-agency Office for Integral Development of Portobelo (ODEIPO), also welcomes the development of planning tools for the property and invites the State Party to finalize these tools and present a strategy on their articulation within the overall management system for the property;
  7. Regrets that the integral Management Plan to include all components and buffer zones of the property is not yet in place, and further requests the State Party to submit the Plan to the World Heritage Centre together with the Community Development Plan as soon as it is available for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Further takes note of the improvements to tourism infrastructure and facilities, but requests furthermore the State Party to consider potential impacts of the proposed visitor center of San Lorenzo and to ensure that these improvements are in full coherence with the conservation needs, carrying capacity and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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;
  10. Decides to retain Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
44 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/21/44.COM/7A, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2.Add),
  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 44 COM 7A.28)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 44 COM 7A.29)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 44 COM 7A.32)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 44 COM 7A.35)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.39)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.41)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.42)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.43)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.45)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 44 COM 7A.5)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.55)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.52)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 44 COM 7A.6)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.7)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 44 COM 7A.8)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 44 COM 7A.10)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 44 COM 7A.47)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 44 COM 7A.11)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 44 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 44 COM 7A.13)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 44 COM 7A.14)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 44 COM 7A.15)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 44 COM 7A.48)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 44 COM 7A.1)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 44 COM 7A.2)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 44 COM 7A.3)
  • Mexico, Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Decision 44 COM 7B.56)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 44 COM 7A.30)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 44 COM 7A.49)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 44 COM 7A.17)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 44 COM 7A.16)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 44 COM 7A.36)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 44 COM 7A.37)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.50)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 44 COM 7A.33)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 44 COM 7A.53)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 44 COM 7A.18)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 44 COM 7A.19)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 44 COM 7A.20)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 44 COM 7A.21)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 44 COM 7A.22)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 44 COM 7A.23)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 44 COM 7A.4)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.51)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.54)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 44 COM 7A.31)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 44 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 44 COM 7A.25)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 44 COM 7A.26)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 44 COM 7A.27).
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7A.36

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.50, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Acknowledging the important contribution of the project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the conservation and management of the property, takes note of the commitment by the State Party to implement the corrective measures within the established 2019-2023 timeframe;
  4. Welcomes the approval of the General Law on Culture, and the elaboration of the roadmap for the conservation projects foreseen in the IDB project for the different components of the property, and requests the State Party to provide further detailed information regarding the concrete implementation of these activities;
  5. Taking note of the progress made towards preparing a proposal of a Minor Boundary Modification, also requests the State Party to submit a formal request, as per Paragraphs 162 and 164 of the Operational Guidelines, taking into consideration the advice that is provided by ICOMOS in this regard;
  6. Also taking note of the creation of the inter-agency Office for Integral Development of Portobelo (ODEIPO), also welcomes the development of planning tools for the property and invites the State Party to finalize these tools and present a strategy on their articulation within the overall management system for the property;
  7. Regrets that the integral Management Plan to include all components and buffer zones of the property is not yet in place, and further requests the State Party to submit the Plan to the World Heritage Centre together with the Community Development Plan as soon as it is available for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  8. Further takes note of the improvements to tourism infrastructure and facilities, but requests furthermore the State Party to consider potential impacts of the proposed visitor center of San Lorenzo and to ensure that these improvements are in full coherence with the conservation needs, carrying capacity and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 2022;
  10. Decides to retain Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2021
Panama
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iv)
Danger List (dates): 2012-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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