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Keoladeo National Park (India) (N 340)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1985
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/340/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount provided to the property: USD 80,000 (“Enhancing Our Heritage” project on the assessment of management effectiveness). From 2008 onwards, the property has benefited from the World Heritage India programme, funded by the United Nations Foundation (which aims to enhance management effectiveness and build staff capacity, increase the involvement of local communities in the management of the property, promote sustainable development, and raise awareness through communications and advocacy)
Previous monitoring missions
March 2005: World Heritage Centre site visit; March 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Invasive/alien terrestrial species (Prosopis, Paspalum)
- Invasive/alien freshwater species (Eichhornia, Clarias gariepinus)
- Water (extraction)
- Water infrastructure
- Management system/management plan (Need to update the Management Plan; inadequate water management including insufficient water supply and quality and competition among different users; inadequate measures to systematically monitor bird populations)
- Solid waste (Disposal of cattle carcasses near the property)
- Other climate change impacts (High natural variability of rainfall)
- Other factor: Disappearance of Siberian cranes
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021
On 3 December 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/340/documents/ and providing the following updates:
- The volume of water reaching the property continues to fluctuate: 190 million cubic feet (mcft) entered the property in 2017, 715 mcft in 2018, and 392 mcft between January and September 2019;
- Two sewage treatment plants in Bharatpur city are in the final stages of commissioning, which will generate around 110 mcft of treated waste water per annum and could be diverted to the property. Expert consultations are underway to develop a robust water quality monitoring mechanism;
- Other potential solutions to sustain adequate water supply include: utilizing more water from Govardhan Drain and the Chambal River; using the property as a temporary drinking water reservoir for Bharatpur city; constructing dedicated pipelines from Panchna Dam and Bandh Baretha to guarantee the timely supply of water to the property; restoring the Gambhiri and Banganga river systems; increasing the water retention capacity of the property and creating a peripheral canal to store water to supply the property when required;
- Annual action plans are implemented to address the removal of invasive alien species (IAS) within the property, namely the African catfish, Prosopis juliflora, and water hyacinths. A draft Management Plan is still under preparation and will incorporate a strategy on IAS; the final copy will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre;
- The Eco-Sensitive Zone for the property has now been notified by Order SO2606(E) dated July 2019, following no objections from stakeholders. The 500m-wide strip surrounding the entire property expands up to 1.5km in the south in order to incorporate more upstream areas. Stakeholder consultations are continuing to develop a Zonal Master Plan for the Eco-Sensitive Zone. The Zonal Master Plan will not alter the approved existing land use but will prohibit or regulate certain development activities and also provide for the restoration and conservation of existing water bodies, including surface and groundwater;
- Heronry population estimates are undertaken using nest counts during the breeding season. Waterfowl estimates are conducted by teams of experts and volunteers using individual bird counts;
- Discussions between the park management authority and the regional government is ongoing to prevent the disposal of cattle carcasses near the property.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
It is regrettable that the State Party did not invite the IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property requested by the Committee in Decision 42 COM 7B.68. In order to assess the state of conservation of the property and provide technical support, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to invite this mission as soon as possible, taking into consideration that the winter season will provide the best conditions to assess the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.
The issue of insufficient water delivery has been consistently raised by the Committee since 1990 (Decision 14 COM IX), and it is of utmost concern that it remains unresolved to date. The data from the State Party’s report indicate that the property is still subject to considerable annual variations in the volume of water it receives. While it is noted that the State Party is considering various measures to ensure adequate flow, it is of utmost importance that sustainable and reliable solutions are implemented to guarantee at least the 550 mcft minimum water flow for the property, which is required to sustain its basic ecological function. This issue should be addressed in detail in the new management plan. A stringent water quality monitoring mechanism is essential before water from the new sewage treatment plants is released into the property, to avoid any possibility of contaminated water entering the wetlands.
The issuance of a final notification declaring the Eco-Sensitive Zone is welcomed, especially the expansion to the south to include upstream areas and provide additional protection to the whole catchment area. The State Party’s assurances that it is using a consultative process to develop a Zonal Master Plan for this area are appreciated. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to consider formalizing this Eco-Sensitive Zone as a World Heritage buffer zone by submitting a Minor Boundary Modification, as outlined in Paragraphs 107, 163-164 and Annex 11 of the Operational Guidelines.
The State Party’s continued efforts to remove IAS and its intention to incorporate an eradication strategy into the revised Management Plan are welcomed. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request that the State Party to submit a copy of the draft Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, so that any comments can be reflected in the final version. Recalling that the previous Management Plan expired in 2014 and was subsequently extended until 2017, the State Party should be requested to submit the new draft Management Plan to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2021 at the latest, to ensure its implementation as soon as possible.
A standardized census methodology appears to be in place for the monitoring of the heronries, but it is not clear if a similar annual census applies to waterfowl. It is recommended that the State Party be requested to submit survey data and analyses that clearly present time-sequenced population trends for both heronry and waterfowl in advance of the requested monitoring mission. Furthermore, it is important to reiterate that a systematic, long-term monitoring approach should be reflected in the revised Management Plan.
The discussions to avoid any disposal of cattle carcasses near the property is noted. However, noting the potential health risks to wildlife and people, it is recommended that that Committee request the State Party to immediately prevent any further disposals from happening.
Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.92
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.68, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
- Regrets that the State Party did not invite the IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission requested in its Decision 42 COM 7B.68, and reiterates its request to the State Party to urgently invite this mission to the property, to take place prior to the next session of the Committee, to assess its state of conservation and the progress made in addressing issues of water provision and invasive alien species;
- Expresses its utmost concern that the issue of insufficient water delivery remains unresolved to date and, noting the State Party’s efforts towards improving water flow to the property, strongly urges the State Party to decide on a sustainable and reliable solution to secure and sustain the 550 mcft annual minimum water flow to the property required to sustain its the basic ecological function, including through concrete measures to ensure adequate flow from Panchna, Chambal and Govardhan projects;
- Requests the State Party to ensure that a stringent water quality monitoring mechanism is in place before any effluent is diverted from the sewage water treatment plants in Bharatpur city into the property, so as to avoid any contaminated water being diverted to the property, and to ensure there is no negative impact on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
- Welcomes the issuance of a final notification declaring an Eco-Sensitive Zone around the property and the State Party’s assurances that a consultative process is ongoing for the development of a Zonal Master Plan, and encourages the State Party to consider formalizing the Eco-Sensitive Zone as a World Heritage buffer zone by submitting a proposal for a Minor Boundary Modification, in accordance with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Also welcomes the State Party’s continued efforts to address invasive alien species within the property and its intention to incorporate an eradication strategy into the revised Management Plan, which should also address the abovementioned water flow issues, and also requests the State Party submit an electronic copy of the revised draft to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2022 for review by IUCN before it is finalized;
- Further requests the State Party to provide recent bird census data and analyses, including population trends for both heronry and waterfowl, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to clearly document the long-term approach and methodology of systematic bird population monitoring in the pending revised Management Plan;
- Also noting the potential health risks to wildlife and people caused by the disposal of cattle carcasses near the property, requests furthermore that the State Party immediately prevent any further disposal;
- Requests moreover 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.