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Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Viet Nam
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Ground transport infrastructure (Negative impacts of a road construction project in the World Heritage site) (issue resolved)
  • Illegal activities (Illegal logging and forest crimes (poaching))
  • Management systems/management plan (Lack of a visitor Management Plan, Inadequate Sustainable Tourism Development Plan)
  • Impacts of tourism/visitor/recreation (Cable car project to provide access to the Son Doong cave)
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted: USD 33,000 from UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust to support Stakeholder’s Consultation for the transboundary cooperation with Lao PDR (2006)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 3 (from 2005-2021)
Total amount approved : 104,040 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

July 2018: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 5 January 2021, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/951/documents/, which provides the following information:

  • In January 2020, the Quang Bing Provincial People’s Committee (PPC) issued a Directive requesting all provincial authorities to strengthen conservation and promotion of World Heritage values, with a specific emphasis on preventing activities that degrade forests and habitats of primates in the property;
  • The Forest Protection Unit was created and Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) patrols and law enforcement have continued to target poaching activities and illegal entries into the property;
  • A sustainable forest management plan (2021-2030), a Biodiversity Conservation Plan (vision 2040) and a plan for the conservation and promotion of heritage values are under elaboration;
  • The implementation of the Action Plan for the Conservation of Primate Species in the Park is continuing, and rare endemic tree species are being propagated;
  • A pilot project for the eradication of the invasive plant Merremia boisiana was undertaken from October 2018 to November 2019, and in 2020, the PPC submitted a proposal for a research project to investigate the spread of boisiana within the property;
  • Cable cars projects are no longer being considered. A new research project to assess the tourism capacity of caves within the property is being proposed in response to the 2018 World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission recommendation to adapt the management of caves according to their specific vulnerability and requirements;
  • Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) at tourist sites such as Paradise cave, Pong Nha and Tien Son cave, Dark Cave – Chay river, and Mooc spring Eco-trail were undertaken, which showed that the measurements of abiotic factors are within national permitted standards;
  • Heavy rainfall in October 2020 caused landslides and flooding in 25% of the property, thereby impacting its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and affecting the lives of communities in the whole province;
  • Substantially reduced tourist numbers in 2020 due to COVID-19 led to the loss of jobs and a correlated increase in natural resource pressure, but proactive actions led to a quick restoration of normal operations. The period between 2019 and October 2020 saw 1.2 million visitors;
  • Cooperation with Lao People’s Democratic Republic to strengthen the protection of the property and Hin Nam No National Park is continuing, in view of a potential future transboundary nomination.

An Emergency Assistance request to mitigate damage to the property following the October 2020 rainfall was approved in May 2021.

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

The firm commitment expressed by the State Party to address past Committee decisions and mission recommendations is appreciated. Areas of progress include the continued cooperation with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to enhance the protection of the transboundary ecosystem, the Directive at the provincial level to enhance the protection of World Heritage, and other management and conservation tools. However, there was no update regarding how the new regulations will ensure effective engagement of a wider range of stakeholders in the management and valorization of the property, as requested by the Committee. The State Party’s continued efforts to address poaching and other illegal activities, notably through the strengthened patrolling, are welcomed. Recalling the State Party’s 2019 report, which mentioned a serious decline in large mammal species and prey species within the property, it is recommended that the State Party further intensify law enforcement, patrolling and monitoring efforts, with particular focus on the perimeter and high-risk areas within the property, and emphasize proactive anti-poaching measures to urgently reverse this concerning trend.

The research projects on invasive species within the property are appreciated and will contribute to a better understanding of the extent of their impact on the OUV and its management. In the absence of a summary of the findings of the pilot project for the eradication of M. boisiana, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide a report on the results of the pilot project to the World Heritage Centre and to clarify how it intends to use these findings to inform further activities. Recalling that, in 2017, the State Party reported that M. boisiana covered 4,000 ha of the property, it is more pressing that the State Party focus its efforts and resources to address the threat on the basis of the implemented assessments of the extent of spread. Furthermore, recalling that M. boisiana is one of the 14 invasive species identified within the property, it is vital that the State Party allocate sufficient financial resources for long-term measures to address this threat and ensure that there is a clear strategy and action plan.

The State Party’s proposal to assess the tourism capacity within the property’s caves is noted, and it is hoped that it will inform future management. As travel and tourism reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that tourism numbers and activities are effectively managed and that the State Party continues to refrain from approving or implementing any future infrastructure project in or near caves without the endorsement of the Committee. In this regard, it is recommended that the Committee welcome the confirmation that cable car projects are no longer under consideration and remind the State Party once again to update the 2010-2020 Sustainable Tourism Development Plan, ensuring its integration with other key management tools such as the 2013-2025 Strategic Management Plan and the 2013-2020 Operational Management Plan, and paying careful attention to the balance between tourism development and biodiversity conservation by clarifying the functional zoning of the property as well as increased benefit sharing among stakeholders, as recommended by the 2018 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission.

The reported damages to the communities’ livelihoods and the OUV of the property as a result of landslides and flooding in October 2020 are of concern, and in this regard, it is welcomed that the Emergency Assistance request to mitigate the damage to the property was approved to complement the State Party’s ongoing mitigation efforts.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.189
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (Viet Nam) (N 951bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.12, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the efforts of the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission, including a new Directive by the Quang Bing Provincial People’s Committee, which requires all provincial authorities to strengthen conservation and promotion of World Heritage values, the elaboration of a sustainable forest management plan (2021-2030), a Biodiversity Conservation Plan (vision 2040) and a plan for conservation and promotion of heritage values;
  4. Appreciates the undertaking of a pilot project for the eradication of the invasive plant Merremia boisiana, and requests the State Party to develop a clear strategy and action plan that is sufficiently resourced to address the threat posed by the 14 previously reported invasive species identified within the property, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, the strategy and action plan along with the findings of the M. boisiana pilot project and future plans to cope with its further spread;
  5. Takes note of the State Party’s proposal to assess the tourism capacity within the property’s caves, and reiterates its requests to the State Party to take the necessary measures to avoid a further increase in the number of visitors to the caves located within the property and not to approve nor implement any future infrastructure project in or near the caves that could impact the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  6. Also welcomes the confirmation provided by the State Party that cable car projects are no longer under consideration, and reminds the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, detailed information for any large-scale tourism and/or development project that may have the potential to impact on the OUV of the property, including any Environmental Impact Assessment, before works commence or any irreversible decision is made, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also reiterates once more its request to the State Party to revise and update the 2010-2020 Sustainable Tourism Development Plan and its integration with other key management tools, as suggested by the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission, to enhance governance based on the overarching principles of sustaining and preserving the OUV of the property by paying careful attention to the balance between tourism development and biodiversity conservation, as well as increased benefit sharing among stakeholders;
  8. Further reiterates its request to the State Party to establish an effective mechanism to engage a wider range of stakeholders in the management and valorisation of the property;
  9. Acknowledges the State Party’s continued efforts to address poaching and other illegal activities in the property, but considering that a significant reduction in wildlife populations was previously reported, also requests the State Party to further intensify law enforcement, patrolling and monitoring efforts, with a particuar focus on the perimeter and high-risk areas within the property, and to take proactive anti-poaching measures to urgently reverse this concerning trend;
  10. Reiterates furthermore its request that the State Party fully implement the recommendations of the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission, in particular by integrating and harmonizing the various management and conservation plans and tools under a concerted vision of governance, and by clarifying the functional zoning of the property;
  11. Further welcomes the continued cooperation with the State Party of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic for the preservation of biodiversity notably in the transboundary protected area, and for the future nomination of Hin Nam No national protected area jointly with the property in Viet Nam;
  12. Further 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.189

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.12, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the efforts of the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission, including a new Directive by the Quang Bing Provincial People’s Committee, which requires all provincial authorities to strengthen conservation and promotion of World Heritage values, the elaboration of a sustainable forest management plan (2021-2030), a Biodiversity Conservation Plan (vision 2040) and a plan for conservation and promotion of heritage values;
  4. Appreciates the undertaking of a pilot project for the eradication of the invasive plant Merremia boisiana, and requests the State Party to develop a clear strategy and action plan that is sufficiently resourced to address the threat posed by the 14 previously reported invasive species identified within the property, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, the strategy and action plan along with the findings of the boisiana pilot project and future plans to cope with its further spread;
  5. Takes note of the State Party’s proposal to assess the tourism capacity within the property’s caves, and reiterates its requests to the State Party to take the necessary measures to avoid a further increase in the number of visitors to the caves located within the property and not to approve nor implement any future infrastructure project in or near the caves that could impact the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  6. Also welcomes the confirmation provided by the State Party that cable car projects are no longer under consideration, and reminds the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN, detailed information for any large-scale tourism and/or development project that may have the potential to impact on the OUV of the property, including any Environmental Impact Assessment, before works commence or any irreversible decision is made, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also reiterates once more its request to the State Party to revise and update the 2010-2020 Sustainable Tourism Development Plan and its integration with other key management tools, as suggested by the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission, to enhance governance based on the overarching principles of sustaining and preserving the OUV of the property by paying careful attention to the balance between tourism development and biodiversity conservation, as well as increased benefit sharing among stakeholders;
  8. Further reiterates its request to the State Party to establish an effective mechanism to engage a wider range of stakeholders in the management and valorization of the property;
  9. Acknowledges the State Party’s continued efforts to address poaching and other illegal activities in the property, but considering that a significant reduction in wildlife populations was previously reported, also requests the State Party to further intensify law enforcement, patrolling and monitoring efforts, with a particuar focus on the perimeter and high-risk areas within the property, and to take proactive anti-poaching measures to urgently reverse this concerning trend;
  10. Reiterates furthermore its request that the State Party fully implement the recommendations of the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission, in particular by integrating and harmonizing the various management and conservation plans and tools under a concerted vision of governance, and by clarifying the functional zoning of the property;
  11. Further welcomes the continued cooperation with the State Party of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic for the preservation of biodiversity notably in the transboundary protected area, and for the future nomination of Hin Nam No national protected area jointly with the property in Viet Nam;
  12. Further 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
Viet Nam
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Natural
Criteria: (viii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2021) .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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