1.         Henderson Island (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (N 487)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

Criteria  (vii)(x)

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/487/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1990-1990)
Total amount approved: USD 8,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/487/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Absence of a management plan;

b) Invasive Species

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/487/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

At its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party provide a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, including on the status of all objectives of the management plan together with information on the status of the bids for funding for bird monitoring and rat eradication and a copy of the Environmental Strategy for the Pitcairn Islands. The World Heritage Committee noted that the State Party had not previously reported on the following aspects of the management plan: alien fauna and flora, miro and tou (sustainable use of timber), turtle nesting beaches and the reef, extinctions, and ex-situ conservation and translocation.

The State Party provided a letter dated 31 January 2008 reporting on these points. This discusses the issue of rat eradication in some detail as this is considered to be the principal threat to the values of the Island. The other aspects requested are discussed in brief. The State Party focal point is currently seeking a copy of the Environment Strategy for the Pitcairn Islands.

The State Party notes that the main threats to the wildlife of the Island have not increased, and that there are no plans to increase visitor numbers, nor changes with regard to turtle nesting and timber extraction. The appointment of a ranger is still being considered and the State Party considers that the views of the Pitcairn Islanders should drive the creation of this position. The State Party reports that a visitor guide on the ecology and conservation status of Henderson was published in late 2007, which promoted a Code of Conduct to minimize impact and prevent introduction of alien species. This is a positive move, although a copy has not been reviewed directly.

The principal and relatively long-standing threat to the natural values of Henderson is predation by the Polynesian rat on Gadfly Petrel and Henderson Petrel chicks. A recent study implies that such predation represents a threat of extinction of Henderson Petrels, as their breeding success is not sufficient to sustain the population. A feasibility study has concluded that eradication of the rat population is probably feasible and a proposal has been made to the United Kingdom’s Overseas Territories Environment Programme to resolve outstanding design issues for the eradication programme and to finalize the operational plan. The State Party has not confirmed the timescale for action. The inscription of the property strongly emphasized undisturbed ecology as the key distinctive value of Henderson and the World Heritage Committee should encourage decisive action to safeguard the values for which the property was inscribed.

The information provided by the State Party does not answer all of the questions noted in the previous state of conservation report. There is clearly a need to require continued priority by the State Party and the Pitcairn authorities to finalize operational plans and ensure adequate resourcing. The State Party also needs to clarify its intentions in relation to the ongoing management of the natural values of the Island, including the conclusion of an eradication programme for the Polynesian rat, and the points noted in the previous state of conservation report as indicated above. In addition to this threat to Henderson Island, IUCN and the World Heritage Centre have also received information on a similar issue of a substantial threat to seabird colonies from invasive species on a different UK island World Heritage property in the Southern Hemisphere, Gough Island. In this case the threat is from predation by mice on the globally important seabird colonies of Gough.

In summary, on the basis of the State Party report, the principal management issues at Henderson Island appear to be addressed, but recent research has established that these values are threatened and require more emphatic attention. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.27

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.34, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Welcomes the completion and dissemination of a visitor code of conduct;

4. Notes the importance of decisive action in relation to threats to the property and requests the State Party to finalise plans for rapid implementation of the eradication of the invasive Polynesian rat and to consider the appointment of a ranger for Henderson Island;

5. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a detailed report on the overall state of conservation of the property, including reference to alien fauna and flora, sustainable use of timber, turtle nesting beaches, extinctions, ex situ conservation and translocation, the rat eradication scheme, as well as the planned ranger appointment for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010, and further requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with a copy of the Environmental Strategy for the Pitcairn Islands, when it is available.