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Plitvice Lakes National Park

Croatia
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Air pollution
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water (extraction)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Armed conflict (issue resolved)
  • Poaching of bears (issue resolved)
  • Dynamite fishing (issue resolved)
  • Destruction of the forests and park facilities (issue resolved)
  • Impacts of tourism/visitors/recreation (possible over-visitation of the site)
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure (significant expansion of tourism facilities within the property)
  • Pollution and water contamination
  • Water extraction
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 2 (from 1992-1998)
Total amount approved : 46,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

February 1992: IUCN expert mission; September 1992: Joint UNESCO/IUCN mission; September 1993: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission; May 1996: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2017: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 29 November 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/documents/. The State Party reports the following:

  • The process of amending the Spatial Plan relating to the property is underway. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of existing, potential and cumulative impacts of the Plan, including its proposed amendments, on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is in preparation. The results of the SEA will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre as soon as they become available;
  • The Management Plan (MP) of the property will be amended, if considered necessary based on the results of the SEA. The zonation of the MP informs the preparation of the expert nature protection background document (ENPBD) as part of the analytical background documents for the Spatial Plan amendment, which should ensure harmonization of these different documents;
  • The possible relocation of the state road crossing the property is foreseen in the current Spatial Plan in order to reduce transit traffic through the property;
  • Oversight and monitoring of buildings and water have continued and are now covered under a single institution – the State Inspectorate. As a result of such activities, installation of new wastewater units by local catering and accommodation providers and an overall increase of their environmental awareness are reported;
  • The Public Institution Plitvice Lakes National Park (PIPLNP) and Croatian Waters, the national organization in charge of water management operations, have established permanent water monitoring, which includes physical, chemical, micro-biological and ecological indicators;
  • Two projects were launched with the aim of addressing unsustainable water use and water pollution issues. The planned “agglomeration project” will address wastewater collection and treatment system, including the area of the Plitvice Lakes National Park and is expected to be completed by 2023. Planned improvements of the water supply system are currently in an analysis phase with the objective to identify the optimal technical solution;
  • An online booking system to better manage visitation especially during peak times is operational and monitoring of impacts and visitor numbers has been ongoing since 2019. This will allow corrections to the defined carrying capacities if considered necessary;
  • As a consequence of climate change, the median water temperature has increased and water flow has slightly decreased.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The efforts by the State Party to implement the Committee decisions and the recommendations of the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission are welcomed, in particular, actions aimed at improving the management of wastewater and water supply.  Nevertheless, the investment projects to bring a long-term solution for the water pollution and supply problems still remain at the planning phase.

The efforts of the State Party to develop the SEA as part of the process of amending the Spatial Plan for the property, and confirmation that these processes have been informed by the Management Plan, are noted. While the State Party has confirmed that the results of the SEA will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre once available, it has not provided a timeframe for completion of the SEA and this process should also be finalised as soon as possible.

While some information was provided on the new visitor management system, the State Party has not provided detailed information on the results of monitoring impacts of visitation, and whether or not the exponential increase of visitor numbers has continued or is levelling out as a result of the new system. In 2018, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN noted that the draft Visitor Management Plan focused on the carrying capacity of the park’s infrastructure and how it could be expanded rather than on the carrying capacity of the ecosystem and the attributes that demonstrate its OUV. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to further elaborate the plan to emphasize the preservation of the property’s OUV as the primary objective and to determine the carrying capacity based on environmental parameters and strict scientific criteria. In this context, the relocation of the state road crossing the property should also be encouraged, in order to reduce the impacts of transit traffic through the property.

Overall, while some progress has been achieved in addressing the issues of water supply and wastewater management, as well as visitor management, it should be recalled that the World Heritage Committee considered that the inadequate water supply and drainage system, water pollution risks and continued exponential growth of visitation at the property represented a potential danger to its OUV, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines. Therefore, until it can be confirmed that the solutions developed by the State Party have been effective in addressing these threats, it is considered that the OUV of the property remains vulnerable. It is crucial that the implementation of the projects to address water pollution and water supply issues are accelerated. It is important to also include in future reporting the results of the on-going water quality monitoring.

It is further recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue careful monitoring of visitation and associated impacts and, depending on the results, to introduce further mitigation measures, including caps on visitor numbers. It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide in its next report on the state of conservation of the property, detailed information confirming the evolution of visitor numbers and associated impacts, as well as an assessment of the effectiveness of the newly introduced visitor management system in addressing the exponential visitation growth.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.103
Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia) (N 98bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.74, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the on-going efforts of the State Party to implement decisions of the Committee and the recommendations of the 2017 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and requests the State Party to continue these efforts, including specifically the timely completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as part of the process of amending the Spatial Plan for the property;
  4. Also welcomes the progress made by the State Party to address the issue of wastewater management and water supply, but notes that the investment projects to bring a long-term solution for the water pollution and unsustainable water use problems still remain at the planning phase and therefore, urges the State Party to accelerate the implementation of these projects and to include in future reporting to the Committee the results of the on-going monitoring of water quality and use;
  5. Also recalling that the inadequate water supply and drainage system, water pollution risks and continued exponential growth of visitation at the property represented a potential danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, considers that, until it can be confirmed that the solutions developed by the State Party have been effective in addressing these threats, the OUV of the property remains vulnerable;
  6. Takes note of the establishment of a new visitor management system but reiterates that visitor management in the property should be based primarily on minimizing threats to the property’s OUV, including directly linking the carrying capacity to the associated attributes, and also requests the State Party to carefully monitor visitation and associated impacts and to introduce further mitigation measures, including caps on visitor numbers where required;
  7. Further requests the State Party to pursue the planned by-pass to relocate the state road outside the property;
  8. Finally 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, including detailed information confirming the evolution of visitor numbers and associated impacts, as well as an assessment of the effectiveness of the newly introduced visitor management system in addressing the exponential visitation growth and confirming the completion of the wastewater treatment project.
Draft Decision 44 COM 7B.103

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.74, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the on-going efforts of the State Party to implement decisions of the Committee and the recommendations of the 2017 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and requests the State Party to continue these efforts, including specifically the timely completion of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as part of the process of amending the Spatial Plan for the property;
  4. Also welcomes the progress made by the State Party to address the issue of wastewater management and water supply, but notes that the investment projects to bring a long-term solution for the water pollution and unsustainable water use problems still remain at the planning phase and therefore, urges the State Party to accelerate the implementation of these projects and to include in future reporting to the Committee the results of the on-going monitoring of water quality and use;
  5. Also recalling that the inadequate water supply and drainage system, water pollution risks and continued exponential growth of visitation at the property represented a potential danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, considers that, until it can be confirmed that the solutions developed by the State Party have been effective in addressing these threats, the OUV of the property remains vulnerable;
  6. Takes note of the establishment of a new visitor management system but reiterates that visitor management in the property should be based primarily on minimizing threats to the property’s OUV, including directly linking the carrying capacity to the associated attributes, and also requests the State Party to carefully monitor visitation and associated impacts and to introduce further mitigation measures, including caps on visitor numbers where required;
  7. Further requests the State Party to pursue the planned by-pass to relocate the state road outside the property;
  8. Finally 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, including detailed information confirming the evolution of visitor numbers and associated impacts, as well as an assessment of the effectiveness of the newly introduced visitor management system in addressing the exponential visitation growth and confirming the completion of the wastewater treatment project.
Report year: 2021
Croatia
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)
Danger List (dates): 1992-1997
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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