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Gough and Inaccessible Islands

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Invasive/alien terrestrial species (mice) (issue mentioned since 1999)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 14 November 2019, the State Party submitted a progress report on the funding and implementation of the house mouse (Mus musculus) eradication programme and, on 1 December 2020, a state of conservation report for the property, which are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/740/documents/, and provide the following information:

  • In 2019, progress towards the planned implementation of the eradication programme in 2020 included the preparation of major contracts, delivery of infrastructure, new expert partnerships and preparations for research team arrivals from March 2020. The project budget stands at £9.1 million including a 10% contingency, with a funding gap of £3 million and agreement by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to underwrite any shortfall;
  • In 2020, COVID-19 related restrictions hindered the full implementation of the project, resulting in the expatriation of staff from the island and postponement of the project to 2021. Planning remains ongoing and the RSPB is actively fundraising to allow for contingency should further postponement be required;
  • Progress has been made to limit the spread of invasive plant species procumbent pearlwort (Sagina procumbens) and further work will be undertaken during the mouse eradication project with the aim to fully eradicate the species;
  • Information sharing efforts include the online availability of invasive species information and similar initiatives being undertaken by the RSPB, such as rat eradication, on other islands;
  • The sinking of a fishing vessel near the island in October 2020 has not caused any ascertained damage to the island or the surrounding sea, and the State Party and Tristan Island Governments are determining whether there is any risk to sea or bird life.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The progress in 2019 regarding preparations to implement the house mouse (Mus musculus) eradication programme on Gough Island in 2020 is welcomed. Given the importance of the programme to the conservation of species that are part of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), it is regrettable that COVID-19 restrictions resulted in the postponement of the programme’s planned implementation in 2020. It is recommended the Committee request the State Party to ensure full implementation as soon as possible. Since the programme remains to be completed, the Committee’s request for the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed of the results of the programme and actions to avoid collateral impact on any non-target species should be reiterated. The ongoing fundraising efforts by the RSPB and confirmation to underwrite any gaps are commendable. Nevertheless, it is important that funding is secured to ensure full implementation of the programme.

It is positive that progress has been made to limit the spread of invasive procumbent pearlwort (Sagina procumbens), and especially that it has not spread to the interior of the island, where its potential damaging impacts could be greater. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure the complete eradication of this species from the island as soon as possible, and reiterate its request for the review of the effectiveness of the eradication programme to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre once it is available.

The international exchange of best practices around invasive species and island ecosystem management is commendable and should be continued in order to both facilitate the success of the eradication programmes on Gough Island and to benefit other World Heritage properties.

Whilst acknowledging that the sinking of a fishing vessel in 2020 has caused no ascertained damage, any subsequently identified risks to the OUV of the property should be reported to the World Heritage Centre.

It is noted that the State Party does not provide updates on the current state of the property’s biodiversity values, which have been impacted by different invasive species for several years. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the next state of conservation report to include information about the population dynamics of the species that are part of the property’s OUV.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.192
Gough and Inaccessible Islands (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (N 740bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.81, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the progress made in 2019 regarding preparations for the implementation of the house mouse (Mus musculus) eradication programme on Gough Island in 2020, however regrets that COVID-19 restrictions resulted in the postponement of the programme’s implementation, and requests the State Party to ensure the full implementation of the programme, including to secure adequate funding, as a matter of priority as soon as conditions allow;
  4. Reiterates its request to the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed on the results of the house mouse eradication programme and on actions to avoid collateral impact on any non-target species, and in particular those that are components of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  5. Appreciating that progress has been made to limit the spread of the invasive plant procumbent pearlwort (Sagina procumbens), also requests that the State Party fully implement the eradication programme for this species, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to submit the review of the effectiveness of the eradication programme to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available;
  6. Encourages the State Party to continue sharing its experience on invasive alien species eradication and island ecosystem management practices to promote knowledge exchange with other States Parties facing similar challenges;
  7. Further requests the State Party to provide an update on the state of conservation of the property’s values relating to biodiversity, including population dynamics of the species that are part of its OUV, and on any risks determined from the sunken fishing vessel on the OUV of 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, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.192

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.81, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the progress made in 2019 regarding preparations for the implementation of the house mouse (Mus musculus) eradication programme on Gough Island in 2020, however regrets that COVID-19 restrictions resulted in the postponement of the programme’s implementation, and requests the State Party to ensure the full implementation of the programme, including to secure adequate funding, as a matter of priority as soon as conditions allow;
  4. Reiterates its request to the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed on the results of the house mouse eradication programme and on actions to avoid collateral impact on any non-target species, and in particular those that are components of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  5. Appreciating that progress has been made to limit the spread of the invasive plant procumbent pearlwort (Sagina procumbens), also requests that the State Party fully implement the eradication programme for this species, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to submit the review of the effectiveness of the eradication programme to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available;
  6. Encourages the State Party to continue sharing its experience on invasive alien species eradication and island ecosystem management practices to promote knowledge exchange with other States Parties facing similar challenges;
  7. Further requests the State Party to provide an update on the state of conservation of the property’s values relating to biodiversity, including population dynamics of the species that are part of its OUV, and on any risks determined from the sunken fishing vessel on the OUV of 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, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
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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