Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1987
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/419/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/419/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/419/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021
On 26 November 2019, the State Party submitted a comprehensive state of conservation report, and annexes including a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the 2019 Gros Morne National Park Management Plan, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/419/documents/, and reporting as follows:
On 25 September and 13 December 2018 as well as on 3 January, 25 April, 26 June and 15 July 2019, the World Heritage Centre and the State Party exchanged on third party information expressing concerns regarding trail upgrades undertaken inside the property near Western Brook Pond. In addition, the State Party’s report notes the ongoing upgrading of three additional trails, visitor facility improvement works and road maintenance.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The establishment of the Federal-Provincial Land Use Committee is a welcome step to collaboratively manage the areas surrounding the property. The proposed integration of World Heritage into regional planning frameworks including individual projects is an important development that aims to address the World Heritage Committee’s previous concerns on the need for a buffer zone. The State Party’s reassurances that the “pause” on hydraulic fracturing will not be lifted until a full assessment of the Review Panel recommendations has been completed, is appreciated. The statement that even when the pause is lifted, it would be subject to stringent environmental assessment requirements, is also noted.
Nevertheless, the mandate of the Land Use Committee appears to be limited to enhancing communication and cooperation, without the authority to take decisions or influence decision-making pertaining to proposed activities including oil and gas. Whilst acknowledging the “pause” on hydraulic fracturing, this limited mandate does not allow the Committee to prevent future oil and gas licences to be issued and hence requires further strengthening in order to meet the World Heritage Committee’s request to introduce measures to prevent future oil and gas licences.
The SEA of the 2019 Management Plan states that the provincial government is yet to announce the next steps in the assessment of the Review Panel’s recommendations and the pause on hydraulic fracturing, but no additional update is provided. This would appear to be key to ensuring a common understanding of timelines and expectations in terms of adopting and implementing the Review Panel’s recommendations.
It is acknowledged that the assessment of activities within the entire Gulf of St Lawrence poses considerable challenges and the State Party’s reassurance that the OUV of the property will be considered in project-level Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for any project proposal that may arise within the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) jurisdiction is appreciated. Nevertheless, considering the ecological connectivity of the Gulf of St Lawrence with the property that extends beyond the jurisdictional area of C-NLOPB, it is important that activities across the Gulf be proactively monitored for potential impact on the property and management responses taken accordingly.
The State Party reported that the upgrading of the trails near Western Brook Pond were a high priority, however, the third party concerns shared with the State Party illustrate that this included significant enlargements of the infrastructure resulting in potential impacts on the property and its natural values, which should require a more detailed EIA, including a thorough stakeholder consultation process, rather than the Basic Impact Assessment that was undertaken. Noting that the project was completed in May 2019, it is important for the State Party to ensure the restoration of any damaged vegetation and landscapes. Noting that additional trails are undergoing an upgrade and road maintenance is occurring, and that it is unclear from the State Party’s report whether any of the projects have undergone any type of impact assessment, and as such, clarification should be sought from the State Party. It is recommended that the State Party is requested to re-asses the impacts of the planned upgrading on the OUV and other natural values of the property, and that the upgrading is reviewed to ensure the visitor infrastructure remains non-intrusive and blends in with the landscape of the property.
Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.102
The World Heritage Committee,