1.         Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) (C 135)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (i)(iv)

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/135/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-1993)
Total amount approved: USD 76,800
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 2001: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Deterioration and destruction of the fabric of the property by environmental factors, lack of maintenance, as well as polluted water;

b) Erosion;

c) Absence of management policies included in management plans;

d) Uncontrolled urban development;

e) Tourism pressures (in particular at Portobelo).

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

The State Party did not submit a state of conservation report as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008) nor has additional comprehensive information regarding the property been received since 2006. Therefore, progress on the implementation of prior decisions or the current state of the property is difficult to assess. However, during the reactive monitoring mission to the Archaeological site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá in March 2009, the mission experts visited the property accompanied by representatives from the national authorities. Experts also met with the president of the Patronato in charge of the management of the sites, the creation of which was mentioned in previous reports from the State Party.

Since the terms of reference for the monitoring mission to Panama Viejo did not include the property, mission experts only provided preliminary observations on the current state of the fortifications. It was noted that Portobello is currently under pressure derived from urban development, in spite of the development of several planning tools. Evidence of these impacts includes the construction of new roads that will facilitate the urbanization of areas in the park, which can be verified by the development along the existing road. This threatens not only the physical conservation of the fortifications but also the integrity of the setting and the essential relation between the bay and the fortifications system at Portobello. In addition, new constructions have increased, leading to situations where the historic remains are only partially visible. Other issues noted by the mission included the serious decay of the historic fabric derived from environmental conditions, from the removal of vegetation without consolidation, from the lack of stabilization interventions and negligence in regard to conservation needs and from wastewater draining along the walls of the fort, which threaten the foundations. Erosion phenomena also threaten the stability of the historic remains and material loss was evident at several of the fortifications.

The work plan established by the Patronato, founded in April 2008 has approximately USD 800,000 from bilateral funding from the Interamerican Development Bank; it also has additional budgets from USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and donations from members of the Patronato. However, the programme prioritises the promotion of tourism and the construction of a visitor centre at San Lorenzo, not the much-needed interventions for the fortifications. It is foreseen that a Plan for the safeguard and presentation for the San Lorenzo fort and the ensemble of fortifications at Portobelo will be developed, though that is also projected in the same initial budget as the construction of the visitors centre. The work plan only foresees major interventions for the consolidation of the fortifications from 2010 to 2013, scheduling San Lorenzo for 2010, Santiago de La Gloria for 2011, San Fernando for 2012 and San Jeronimo for 2013. This schedule has been established without having the relevant assessments to establish the priorities for interventions.

The mission concluded that safeguarding the fortifications require immediate interventions to mitigate decay mechanisms derived from environmental conditions. The numerous plans to conserve and present the property also need to be implemented and regulatory measures established to prevent further impacts derived from uncontrolled development.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS are seriously concerned about the state of conservation of the property, which has been highlighted since the 2001 reactive monitoring mission and suggest the World Heritage Committee examines its state of conservation with a view of considering, in absence of substantial progress, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 34th session in 2010. The historic fabric is threatened by natural decay factors and the integrity of the setting, which substantiates the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and is critical for the understanding of the site, is also vulnerable to uncontrolled development. Although progress could be achieved by constituting the Patronato, it is a matter of concern that the activities foreseen focus on tourism development instead of conservation. 

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.140

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.125, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Regrets that the State Party did not provide updated information concerning the state of conservation of the property since 2006, and did not submit a comprehensive progress report as requested by the World Heritage Committee;

4. Requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

5. Requests the State Party, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to submit to the World Heritage Committee the Work Plan of the Patronato 2010-2013 by 30 September 2009, for review by the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS;

6. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to assess the current state of conservation, identify any ascertained or potential threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and to assist in developing an emergency action plan;

7. Reiterates its invitation to the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance to support in particular the development of a management plan for the property;

8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and on the progress made in the implementation of World Heritage Committee decisions, for the examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.