Hortobágy National Park - the Puszta
Factors affecting the property in 2000*
- Surface water pollution
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2000
Total amount approved : 50,000 USD
|Emergency Assistance for the Hortobágy National Park (Approved)
Missions to the property until 2000**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2000
New information: The Deputy Director of the Hortobágy National Park reported to IUCN that, although at present it is difficult to estimate the exact damage, there is evidence of damage to the WH site as a result of the cyanide and heavy metals spills in Romania. A comprehensive monitoring programme is required in order to know the real degree of loss and the impact on the whole ecosystem. The State Party has put forward a request for emergency assistance at this site which IUCN has strongly supported. Carcasses of 21 fish species have been found, five of which are protected by Hungarian Law, and several of which are under the protection of international conventions. Poisoned carcasses also threaten fish-eating birds, such as white-tailed eagles. Impacts have also been reported on wild ducks, cormorants and otters. The long term effects of the cyanide on the protected land alongside the River Tisza is currently unknown but bio-accumulating heavy metals such as lead, zinc and copper could have very damaging affects. The UNEP task force, which started work after the first spill, will report on the impacts of the spill. The EU has established the Baia Mare Taskforce with the participation of representatives from the Romanian and Hungarian Governments, the Danube River Protection Convention, WWF and the UN, and this Taskforce will lead the restoration programme.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2000
The State Party provided a report on 12 September 2000 on the state of conservation of the site in connection with the cyanide pollution of River Tisza, which was caused by the spill of 30 January 2000 at the Romanian Baia Mare mining site. The cyanide pollution potentially threatened the artificial and natural wetland areas of the site. There are three separate units along the river Tisza and structures were built to halt the impacts of the pollution and a monitoring programme was put in place. The report points out that the traditional land-use and other cultural values are not affected.
IUCN’s comments can be summarized as follows. The report outlines the threats and damage to the natural environment of the site. Due to actions taken by the authorities the cyanide pollution affected only the wildlife, especially the fish fauna of the riverbed of the River Tisza, flowing through the Tisza Lake. River algae reappeared several days after the spill and research shows that there has been no decline in invertebrates. The numbers of one of the most important mayfly species has increased suggesting a lower number of predator fish feeding on the larvae of this species. Large amounts of fish were poisoned, including species protected by national and international law. No figures are given. No mammal or bird species were found dead inside or around the Park and no decline has been reported for the waterfowl-breeding season in 2000. The Hungarian Ministry of Environment has set-up a monitoring programme including water quality and biodiversity issues. The Programme is co-ordinated by the Water Research Institute with the participation of various authorities and NGO’s. Biodiversity monitoring includes: surveying and monitoring of strictly protected mammals (especially the European otter and bats); monitoring of rare birds and those nesting in colonies; monitoring of reptiles and amphibians; monitoring of protected and commercial fish populations; effects of the cyanide pollution on insects; effects of the pollution on the macro-vegetation and gallery forests; landscape scale monitoring; and development of a GIS database for the wildlife of the River Tisza. The State Party suggests that the following actions should be taken in order to avoid damage in the future: a detailed action plan should be prepared by relevant authorities (water, environmental, national park directorates) and experts for prevention purposes. The Plan should focus on the improvement of the exchange of information in similar emergency situations, three permanent structures should be built to prevent any polluted water from entering into the protected wetlands of the National Park.
Summary of the interventions
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2000
24 BUR IV.B.45
Hortobagy National Park, Hungary
The Centre informed the Bureau that, although at present it is difficult to estimate the exact damage, there is evidence of damage to the site as a result of the cyanide and heavy metals spills in Romania. Emergency assistance for the site is under implementation.
ICOMOS highlighted that there is currently no impact on the cultural values, however they may occur in the long-term, and that ICOMOS supported the emergency request.
IUCN also supported assistance for this cultural landscape and shared concerns about the environmental impacts of the cyanide spill. IUCN pointed out that clear priorities for establishing a comprehensive monitoring and effective restoration programme need to be established.
The Delegate of Hungary thanked the Centre for processing the emergency assistance and expressed his gratitude for the Australian contribution of Australian $ 300,000 for a comprehensive monitoring programme. He informed the Bureau that press reports that Ukraine would be involved in the cyanide spill are incorrect, which is clearly shown in the information provided by UNEP. The Delegate of Morocco drew the attention of the Bureau to the potential impact of toxic spills from the tributaries of the Danube into the Black Sea and the Mediterranean region in general.
The Bureau commended the efforts of the State Party and many other organisations for their quick response to this environmental disaster. The Bureau urged the State Party to set up a comprehensive monitoring programme for all areas and ecosystems likely to be affected by the spills and give priority to the implementation of a monitoring and restoration programme. The Bureau requested the State Party to provide a report on the state of conservation of the site and relevant mitigating measures by 15 September 2000.
24 COM VIII.iii.35-43
State of conservation reports of cultural properties which the Committee noted
VIII.35 Brasilia (Brazil)
Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian (China)
The Potala Palace, Lhasa (China)
VIII.36 Islamic Cairo (Egypt)
VIII.37 Roman Monuments, Cathedral St Peter and Liebfrauen-Church in Trier (Germany)
Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin (Germany)
Classical Weimar (Germany)
Hortabagy National Park (Hungary)
VIII.38 Khajuraho Group of Monuments (India) Sun Temple of Konarak (India) Petra (Jordan) Luang Prabang (Lao People's Democratic Republic) Byblos (Lebanon) Ksar Ait Ben Haddou (Morocco) VIII.39 Island of Mozambique (Mozambique) Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (Nepal) Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo - San Lorenzo (Panama) Archaeological Site of Chavin (Peru) VIII.40 Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines)
VIII.38 Khajuraho Group of Monuments (India)
Sun Temple of Konarak (India)
Luang Prabang (Lao People's Democratic Republic)
Ksar Ait Ben Haddou (Morocco)
VIII.39 Island of Mozambique (Mozambique)
Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (Nepal)
Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo - San Lorenzo (Panama)
Archaeological Site of Chavin (Peru)
VIII.40 Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines)
VIII.41 Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Philippines)
VIII.42 Cultural Landscape of Sintra (Portugal)
VIII.43 Istanbul (Turkey)
Complex of Hué Monuments (Vietnam)
The Bureau may wish to adopt the following decision and transmit it to the Committee for noting:
“The Bureau commends the efforts of the State Party for establishing a monitoring programme and many other organisations for their actions taken in response to this environmental disaster. The Bureau encourages the State Party to provide reports on the results from this programme and give priority to the implementation of a restoration programme. The Bureau requests the State Party to provide a report on the monitoring programme, its action plan and the state of conservation of the by 15 April 2001.”
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”).