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Trang An Landscape Complex

Viet Nam
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Commercial development
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Management systems / management plan (Need to revise the management and zoning plans, including tourism planning and consideration of the adequacy of permissible activities and developments; Lack of an appropriate buffer zone; Need to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for any major developments within the property and the buffer zone)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (Developments and urbanization stemming from tourism and recreation; Localized, seasonal overcrowding and lack of clarity in terms of planning of tourism infrastructure and services; Need to reinforce full accountability for private tourism actors with respect to the protection of features of possible Outstanding Universal Value; Need to assess the carrying capacity of the property in the context of increasing visitation)
  • Commercial development (illegally built concrete walkway, replica film set)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

September/October 2019: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property took place between 28 September and 3 October 2019. On 29 November 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1438/documents and responds to previous Committee decisions as follows:

  • The Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property is maintained; tourism and conservation are sustainably balanced. Awareness-raising activities have taken place with stakeholders regarding the protection, preservation and promotion of the values of the property, and local communities have benefited from these activities;
  • Historical and cultural relics, security, public order, environmental sanitation, and tourism infrastructure are in good condition. A Management and Scientific Advisory Committee has been established;
  • Passive sightseeing by boat tours along fixed routes in five of the six main tourism locations limits environmental impact. Tourism facilities are regularly maintained and are being expanded in response to visitor demand. Variation in visitation throughout the year is reducing. Visitation continues to grow, from 2.9 million in 2018 to a predicted 3.5 million in 2020 (estimated prior to the COVID-19 crisis). With upgraded facilities, this growth is considered manageable by the State Party with no foreseen impacts on the environment;
  • The Management Board has initiated a three-year project entitled “Determining the visitor carrying capacity of the Trang An Landscape Complex – World Heritage Property, Ninh Binh”, which aims to set management objectives, establish a carrying capacity, and identify the necessary tourism infrastructure and services;
  • New Decrees and Regulations were issued to improve the protection and management of the property. The operational budget is growing, staff numbers are increasing and employees are encouraged to conduct research and undertake professional training. Monitoring programmes addressing the environmental and social impacts from tourism are occurring in conjunction with university researchers. Improved local approval processes are regulating construction projects;
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) are proposed for major developments within the property and its buffer zone;
  • The movie set replica village and the illegally constructed concrete pathway have been removed;
  • Property and buffer zone boundary markers have been installed, along with an archaeological display in the visitor centre at Trang An wharf, and information is provided on the SUNDASIA research programme about community response to past climate and environmental change.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The 2019 mission found that the condition of the property has improved in recent years, generating financial benefits and local employment as the result of increased visitation. However, it also noted that growing tourism remains a major threat to the OUV requiring urgent attention, emphasizing the need to complete the carrying capacity study and assess the cumulative impacts of development in and around the property through an SEA and HIA. The State Party’s assurance that the carrying capacity study, SEA and HIA are considered a priority for the Management Board is welcomed.

The removal of illegal and inappropriate constructions, including the replica movie set, is a positive response to the Committee’s decisions and a strong step towards the necessary focus on conservation and authentic interpretation of the values of the property. The mission concluded that the physical conservation of the property is satisfactory, largely because much of the property is inaccessible and most tourism opportunities involve ‘passive’ sightseeing by boat. Nevertheless, further strengthening of knowledge gaps, such as on biodiversity conservation, was considered necessary to reinforce the values of the property.

The 2021-2026 Management Plan for the property, which is yet to be finalized, should demonstrate clearly how the State Party intends to guarantee the preservation of the property’s OUV by reinforcing a proactive governance approach and interlinking individual management actions to strategic objectives. All staff and stakeholders should be empowered through the management processes, and the Management Board should be strengthened through solid expertise in heritage management, nature conservation and sustainable tourism. The mission has provided a series of recommendations that should be fully considered when updating the Management Plan.

Progress reported by the State Party includes active international cooperation and collaboration with national experts in archaeological research and in situ conservation. The initiation of the much-needed carrying capacity study is positive, but it is of great concern that year-round visitation is continuing to increase and largely surpassed the 2 million visitors by 2020 estimated at the time of inscription. The establishment of an ad hoc Management and Scientific Advisory Committee has improved decision making. However, there is a continuing need for comprehensive planning beyond project-level assessments: systematic monitoring of natural and cultural values; regular review of priorities to determine budget and human resource allocation; a documentation system for built heritage; and a documentation and storage process for moveable heritage.

The development and implementation of an overall interpretation plan and public outreach strategy are fundamental to involving stakeholders in conservation and management, and in addressing the effects of growing tourism. Continued international cooperation is required to strengthen national ownership and capacity, and to address knowledge gaps for the management of both natural and cultural attributes of the property. The integration of the local community in site management would help articulate a long-term vision to preserve the living heritage site, taking into account the well-being and spiritual fulfilment of diverse stakeholders. The implementation of the recommendations of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission will address the majority of the issues raised by the Committee and facilitate the effective conservation and management of the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.76
Trang An Landscape Complex (Viet Nam) (C/N 1438bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 8B.14, 40 COM 7B.67 and 42 COM 7B.62, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the actions taken by the State Party in addressing the Committee’s requests, including the removal of inappropriate infrastructure within the property, the regulation of local development initiatives, improvements to conservation and management, the establishment of an ad hoc Management and Scientific Advisory Committee, the active scientific cooperation for the property at the international and national levels, capacity enhancements for the staff of the Management Authority, and increased budgetary allocations;
  4. Noting that visitation continues to increase beyond previous estimates, urges the State Party to expedite the proposed study to determine the sustainable carrying capacity of the property, and requests the State Party to ensure the protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is at the core of this study and that its findings are strictly enforced, especially regarding limits on visitation at ‘hot spots’ and throughout the property and the offer of alternative itineraries for visitors;
  5. Also requests the State Party to ensure that existing management tools and new Decrees and Regulations are aligned in order to allow for a proactive approach to the overall management of the property by the Management Board, notably by:
    1. Ensuring a balanced approach to tourism, heritage management and nature conservation as a whole, with appropriate expertise within the Management Board,
    2. Applying a clearer reporting protocol concerning any major new development within the property and ensure the necessary prior consultation with the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Notes the conclusions and recommendations of the 2019 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property and also urges the State Party to instigate a well-resourced programme for the progressive implementation of the mission recommendations, particularly with respect to:
    1. Further improvements to governance and management,
    2. Comprehensive and proactive planning, beyond project-level assessments, to ensure a systematic monitoring of natural and cultural values,
    3. A regular review of priorities to determine budget and human resource allocation,
    4. A documentation system for built and moveable heritage and a storage system for moveable heritage,
    5. The development of an overall interpretation plan and public outreach strategy,
    6. Continued international cooperation,
    7. A survey of the natural landscape, geodiversity and biodiversity, archaeological elements of different historical periods, and moveable heritage, and
    8. The involvement of the local community in site management;
  7. Also welcomes the State Party’s assurances that a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) will be undertaken for any major developments within the property and its buffer zones, and reiterates its request to the State Party to use these tools to assess both the individual and cumulative impacts of current and planned developments, with a special focus on potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with the IUCN and ICOMOS guidelines on impact assessments;
  8. Further urges the State Party to finalize the Management Plan for the property, as a matter of high priority, in line with the recommendations of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission, and to ensure the integration of biodiversity conservation into the management and decision-making processes;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 8B.14, 40 COM 7B.67 and 42 COM 7B.62, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the actions taken by the State Party in addressing the Committee’s requests, including the removal of inappropriate infrastructure within the property, the regulation of local development initiatives, improvements to conservation and management, the establishment of an ad hoc Management and Scientific Advisory Committee, the active scientific cooperation for the property at the international and national levels, capacity enhancements for the staff of the Management Authority, and increased budgetary allocations;
  4. Noting with significant concern that visitation continues to increase beyond previous estimates, strongly urges the State Party to expedite the proposed study to determine the sustainable carrying capacity of the property, and requests the State Party to ensure the protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is at the core of this study and that its findings are strictly enforced, especially regarding limits on visitation at ‘hot spots’ and throughout the property and the offer of alternative itineraries for visitors;
  5. Also requests the State Party to ensure that existing management tools and new Decrees and Regulations are aligned in order to allow for a proactive approach to the overall management of the property by the Management Board, notably by:
    1. Ensuring a balanced approach to tourism, heritage management and nature conservation as a whole, with appropriate expertise within the Management Board,
    2. Applying a clearer reporting protocol concerning any major new development within the property and ensure the necessary prior consultation with the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Notes the conclusions and recommendations of the 2019 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property and also urges the State Party to instigate a well-resourced programme for the progressive implementation of the mission recommendations, particularly with respect to:
    1. Further improvements to governance and management,
    2. Comprehensive and proactive planning, beyond project-level assessments, to ensure a systematic monitoring of natural and cultural values,
    3. A regular review of priorities to determine budget and human resource allocation,
    4. A documentation system for built and moveable heritage and a storage system for moveable heritage,
    5. The development of an overall interpretation plan and public outreach strategy,
    6. Continued international cooperation,
    7. A survey of the natural landscape, geodiversity and biodiversity, archaeological elements of different historical periods, and moveable heritage, and
    8. The involvement of the local community in site management;
  7. Also welcomes the State Party’s assurances that a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) will be undertaken for any major developments within the property and its buffer zones, and reiterates its request to the State Party to use these tools to assess both the individual and cumulative impacts of current and planned developments, with a special focus on potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with the IUCN and ICOMOS guidelines on impact assessments;
  8. Further urges the State Party to finalize the Management Plan for the property, as a matter of high priority, in line with the recommendations of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission, and to ensure the integration of biodiversity conservation into the management and decision-making processes;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Viet Nam
Date of Inscription: 2014
Category: Mixed
Criteria: (v)(vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .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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