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Sagarmatha National Park

Nepal
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Air pollution
  • Forestry /wood production
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Input of excess energy
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Mining
  • Other climate change impacts
  • Quarrying
  • Solid waste
  • Subsistence wild plant collection
  • Other Threats:

    Human-wildlife conflict

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Air pollution
  • Illegal activities (Poaching)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation (Rapid increase and commercialization of mountaineering tourism, including resort and trail development);
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure (noise pollution and visual impacts from helicopter use)
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure (Unclear legal basis for establishment and operation of Kongde View Resort, including access trails)
  • Mining
  • Other climate change impacts
  • Quarrying
  • Solid waste (Inadequate solid and liquid waste management)
  • Forestry / wood production (Firewood collection)
  • Others: Human-wildlife conflict; Subsistence wild plant collection
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 7 (from 1980-1999)
Total amount approved : 232,097 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**
June 1985: UNESCO mission; December 2002: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; July 2005: Fact-finding mission; May 2016: IUCN Advisory mission
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 1 September 2019, the State Party submitted an English translation of the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding the Kongde View Resort to the World Heritage Centre, and submitted on 8 January 2020 a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/120/documents/ and responds to Decision 42 COM 7B.70 as follows:

  • The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) placed solid waste containers along the trekking routes, resulting in the collection of 10,000 kg of waste in 2018 from the Everest region. The State Party has drawn up further plans to clean up the Everest base camp;
  • Tourism numbers reached a record high of 58,030 individuals in 2018-2019, compared to the previous record of 25,000 in 2015;
  • Random checks are undertaken on the helicopters flying over the property to confirm they are limited to rescue operations and not tourism purposes;
  • Firewood collection has been banned in the Namche area of the property, and law enforcement activities have resulted in no reported cases of illegal activities within the property;
  • The UNDP-funded project on flood and glacial lake outburst risk reduction has been phased out; however, local communities are continuing to be engaged with the monitoring and early warning system downstream;
  • Local communities continue to refuse the proposal to formalise the existing buffer zone of the Park under the World Heritage Convention;
  • The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a proposed optical fibre project was submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 9 May 2019. Following receipt of IUCN’s technical review on 21 November 2019, the State Party requested the project proponents to review and revise the EIA.

The State Party also reports the growing challenge and risk that climate change continues to pose for the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, primarily linked to the melting of glaciers.

On 6 January 2020, the World Heritage Centre transmitted third-party information to the State Party relating to impacts of overcrowding at the property. The State Party responded on 28 January 2020, acknowledging the increasing number of tourists and reporting of plans to develop a Tourism Management Plan that will address impacts on the OUV.

On 4 May 2020, the World Heritage Centre requested clarification from the State Party on the recent discovery of seven Himalayan musk deer carcasses in the property along with 60 traps, most likely related to musk trafficking. No reply has been received at the time of writing the present document.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

Impacts from growing tourism continue to be an increasing concern for the protection of the property, as seen across World Heritage properties globally. While the efforts to date are appreciated, a more proactive and strategic approach is urgently required to cope with the current challenges. In this context, it is positive to learn of the State Party’s intention to develop the much needed and long-awaited Tourism Management Plan. This Plan should be informed by a visitor carrying capacity study, which should establish an appropriate carrying capacity for the property, especially during peak seasons when overcrowding on the climbing routes has been reported. The Plan should also be aligned with the current Management Plan and its next iteration when it expires in 2020. Whilst noting that the State Party undertakes random checks on helicopters, it is important to recall that the 2016 Advisory mission reported that around 70% of the helicopter traffic within the property is tourism-related. Therefore, tighter restrictions and effective management to regulate helicopter use within the property and the nationally designated buffer zones of the Park are needed and should be addressed in the revised General Management Plan and Tourism Management Plan.

Recalling that, in 2016, the State Party expressed concerns over the increasing cases of illegal firewood collection from inside the property, the confirmation that there are currently no reported cases of illegal activities is welcomed. Nevertheless, the State Party should be encouraged to continue its monitoring efforts and reflect this and associated interventions in the revised Management Plan, as appropriate. The recent poaching of endangered musk deer is worrying and suggests the need to review and strengthen measures within the property to prevent any further poaching from occurring.

It is a source of concern that the Supreme Court order concerning the Kongde View Resort ruled in favour of the resort, which is located inside the property and has been in operation since 2007. Given the concerns expressed by the Committee over a number of years regarding the range of serious threats that the resort poses to the OUV of the property, the Committee may urge the State Party to develop a detailed environmental plan to mitigate the impacts of the resort, submit this plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, and take any necessary measures to monitor its implementation.  

The proposed optical fibre project has potential positive implications for local communities but, as has been communicated to the State Party, requires more planning and consideration of its potential impacts on the OUV of the property. The State Party should be requested to submit a revised EIA to the World Heritage Centre for further review by IUCN before making any decision that may be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

The continued engagement of local communities since the end of the UNDP-supported project is positive. Climate change is a global threat, and the State Party should be encouraged to further monitor the impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property and strengthen efforts to build resilience at the property level, while including a climate adaptation strategy into the revised management plan (see Decision 41 COM 7).

No response was provided to the Committee’s previous request to develop a zonation scheme inside the property. A zonation system should be classified according to ecosystem and cultural protection requirements and is clearly distinct from a buffer zone. IUCN is ready to provide the State Party with examples and guidance.

The State Party’s increased effort to engage with local communities in order to recognize the current buffer zone of the National Park within the World Heritage system is greatly appreciated. Noting that the support and agreement of local communities is fundamental to proceed with the proposal, the State Party should be encouraged to continue its dialogue and efforts to formalize the buffer zone with the support of local people and to submit it as a proposal for a minor boundary modification in due time.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.96
Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal) (N 120)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7 and 42 COM 7B.70, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Noting with concern the reported impacts of increasing visitor numbers on the property, welcomes the State Party’s intention to develop a Tourism Management Plan and requests the State Party to:
    1. Undertake a visitor carrying capacity study to establish an appropriate carrying capacity for the property, especially during the peak season, and use the findings to inform the Tourism Management Plan,
    2. Address how monitoring and regulation of tourism-related helicopter traffic within the property and the nationally designated buffer zones of the Park can be strengthened to reduce impacts,
    3. Ensure that the Tourism Management Plan aligns with the 2016-2020 Management Plan for the property and its next iteration;
  4. Also recalling its previous concerns regarding the range of serious threats that the Kongde View Resort, located within the property, poses to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), expresses concern over the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the resort and urges the State Party to develop a detailed environmental plan to mitigate the impacts of the resort, submit this plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, and take any necessary measures to monitor its implementation;
  5. Also welcomes the State Party’s decision to request a revision of the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the optical fibre project based on the comments provided by IUCN, and also requests the State Party to submit a revised EIA to the World Heritage Centre for further review by IUCN before making any decision that may be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Emphasizing the distinction between a zonation scheme and a buffer zone, reiterates its request to the State Party to develop a zonation system, notably as a means of ensuring appropriate provisions for enclave villages located within the property;
  7. Notes with satisfaction that there are currently no reported cases of illegal collection of firewood from within the property and encourages the State Party to continue its monitoring efforts in that regard and to reflect this and associated interventions in the next iteration of the Management Plan, as appropriate;
  8. Also notes with concern the reported poaching of Himalayan musk deer within the property and further requests the State Party to review and strengthen measures to prevent any further poaching;
  9. Appreciates the steps taken by the State Party to consult with local communities regarding the formalization of the nationally designated buffer zone of the National Park as a buffer zone to the property, and also encourages the State Party to continue this dialogue with the aim of formalizing a buffer zone, with the support of local people and, in due time, to submit to the World Heritage Centre a proposal for a minor boundary modification for review by the Committee, in line with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Also notes with concern the increasing impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property and the wellbeing of local communities and requests furthermore the State Party to further monitor the impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property, to strengthen efforts towards building resilience at the property level, and to develop and implement a climate adaptation strategy, which should be integrated into the revised management plan;
  11. 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.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.96

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7 and 42 COM 7B.70, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Noting with concern the reported impacts of increasing visitor numbers on the property, welcomes the State Party’s intention to develop a Tourism Management Plan and requests the State Party to:
    1. Undertake a visitor carrying capacity study to establish an appropriate carrying capacity for the property, especially during the peak season, and use the findings to inform the Tourism Management Plan,
    2. Address how monitoring and regulation of tourism-related helicopter traffic within the property and the nationally designated buffer zones of the Park can be strengthened to reduce impacts,
    3. Ensure that the Tourism Management Plan aligns with the 2016-2020 Management Plan for the property and its next iteration;
  4. Also recalling its previous concerns regarding the range of serious threats that the Kongde View Resort, located within the property, poses to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), expresses concern over the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the resort and urges the State Party to develop a detailed environmental plan to mitigate the impacts of the resort, submit this plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, and take any necessary measures to monitor its implementation;
  5. Also welcomes the State Party’s decision to request a revision of the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the optical fibre project based on the comments provided by IUCN, and also requests the State Party to submit a revised EIA to the World Heritage Centre for further review by IUCN before making any decision that may be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Emphasizing the distinction between a zonation scheme and a buffer zone, reiterates its request to the State Party to develop a zonation system, notably as a means of ensuring appropriate provisions for enclave villages located within the property;
  7. Notes with satisfaction that there are currently no reported cases of illegal collection of firewood from within the property and encourages the State Party to continue its monitoring efforts in that regard and to reflect this and associated interventions in the next iteration of the Management Plan, as appropriate;
  8. Also notes with concern the reported poaching of Himalayan musk deer within the property and further requests the State Party to review and strengthen measures to prevent any further poaching;
  9. Appreciates the steps taken by the State Party to consult with local communities regarding the formalization of the nationally designated buffer zone of the National Park as a buffer zone to the property, and also encourages the State Party to continue this dialogue with the aim of formalizing a buffer zone, with the support of local people and, in due time, to submit to the World Heritage Centre a proposal for a minor boundary modification for review by the Committee, in line with Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Also notes with concern the increasing impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property and the wellbeing of local communities and requests furthermore the State Party to further monitor the impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property, to strengthen efforts towards building resilience at the property level, and to develop and implement a climate adaptation strategy, which should be integrated into the revised management plan;
  11. 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 in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Nepal
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)
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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