1.         San Agustín Archaeological Park (Colombia) (C 744)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1995

Criteria  (iii)

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/744/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1995-1995)
Total amount approved: USD 10,400
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/744/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

November 2006: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) State of conservation of the fabric of the megalithic sculptures;

b) Lack of a management plan;

c) Lack of buffer zone;

d) Ongoing challenges by local communities with regards to the use of illegally constructed roads which traverse the archaeological park.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/744/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 2 February 2011 which details the actions implemented in response to Decision 33 COM 7B.134.

a) Delimitation of the inscribed property and definition of buffer zones

The State Party reports that in 2010 archaeological zoning for the component of the property located within the Municipality of San Agustin was completed, while zoning for the components located within the Municipality of Isnos will be conducted in 2011. This has allowed for the definition of different uses so as to minimize potential human and natural impacts. The State Party also reports that a process for the legalization of land titles has started and will address conflicts in ownership and land use, and better protect archaeological remains at both components of the inscribed property and their buffer zones. A class action suit is foreseen for the protection of the archaeological causeway that currently links the administrative headquarters of San Agustín Park to archaeological sites known as Mesitas A and B, an area that has been affected by constant vehicular traffic and livestock. An alternate route outside the boundaries of the Park is being explored in consultation with stakeholders, so as to provide access for the local communities. Other actions are foreseen to better protect the property’s boundaries and to enforce established zoning to minimize informal developments and commercial activities at adjacent properties. Upon finalization of the current process for legalization and definition of boundaries, the State Party foresees that the zoning maps for the heritage property will be included in the municipal zoning plans to ensure their articulation with territorial and municipal planning tools.

b) Alternative roads for the local community

With regard to the illegal road built by the Yanacona communities in the sector of La Estacion in 2006 which warranted the 2006 World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, the State Party, through the Instituto Colombiano de Anthropologia e Historia (ICANH) has continued efforts to ensure that the roadway remains closed and its use discontinued, and that communities utilize the existing road which is a viable alternative. ICANH has also allowed access through the La Estacion area via a footpath which does not affect the property’s integrity. Several consultation meetings have been carried out with the involved parties, as well as judicial processes to address the situation. The communities had however remained adamant in their use of the illegal roadway, and had continued to hinder works on the 2010 project for the rehabilitation of the footpath. Judicial authorities have determined that the alternative (pre-existing) road is adequate although in need of improvements and that consequently closing the illegal road does not impinge on the community’s fundamental rights. The State Party considers that this decision, along with resolutions issued by the Municipal Government and favourable public opinion, have created adequate conditions for the road’s closure. Works for the rehabilitation of the footpath will be restarted in February 2011.

c) Management plan

The State Party has submitted its management plan ‘Plan Integral de Manejo Parque Arqueologico de San Agustin y Alto de los Idolos’ which was formulated between 2007 and 2008 and revised in 2010, and comprises 8 programmes and 53 projects. These have been systematically carried out and resources have been allocated for the Plan’s sustained implementation. Socialization and consultation workshops have been conducted as part of the ongoing participatory process for the formulation and implementation of the plan. The State Party reports that ICANH has committed USD 1,073,236 for the related activities in 2011.

Progress is also reported in negotiations and actions with national entities at the regional and local levels and with communities for the holistic conservation of archaeological heritage in the area, through the implementation of guidelines and regulations set forth in the management plan, which is also strengthened through outreach activities.

d) Other issues

The State Party also reports that an assessment of the Park’s infrastructure has been carried out and actions have been identified for their expansion, retrofitting and intervention to improve the existing facilities for public and administrative use, in accordance to provisions set forth in the Management Plan. Project implementation is expected to continue through 2011.

In 2011, it is planned to construct an alternative walkway to the archaeological sites of Mesitas A and B, to prevent further use of the pre-Hispanic causeway, which assessments have indicated is unstable from a conservation point of view.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the State Party has effectively implemented a series of measures to sustain the Outstanding Universal Value, authenticity and integrity of the property and welcome the broad participatory nature of the efforts.  They would reiterate the importance of finalizing the formal definition of boundaries and buffer zones of the inscribed property and encourage the State Party to continue efforts to ensure that established zoning is thoroughly articulated with planning tools at the territorial and municipal levels.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.122

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.134, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Notes with satisfaction the efforts made by the State Party to ensure the safeguarding of the property and encourages it to continue such efforts in co-operation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, in particular for reaching a final solution to the closure of the illegal road through San Agustín;

4. Urges the State Party to increase its outreach activities with the communities in order to encourage to discontinuing the use of the illegal road above;

5. Requests the State Party to finalize the delimitation of the components inscribed on the World Heritage List, including zoning activities scheduled for 2011, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies the defined boundaries, including appropriate cartography as well as the legal framework for examination by the World Heritage Committee within the framework of the Retrospective Inventory process;

6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, 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 37th session in 2013.