World Heritage Committee Newsletter #2

Tue, 7 Dec 1993 22:47:01 -0800

A daily newsletter covering the activities of the World Heritage
Committee, meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, December 6-11, 1993
Vol. II, No. 2 Tuesday, Dec. 7

CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA. The World Heritage Committee today placed
the Everglades National Park, a United States World Heritage site since
1979, on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The Danger list, which
with the addition of Everglades now numbers 16 World Heritage sites, calls
the World's attention to natural or manmade conditions which threaten the
characteristics for which the site was originally nominated. Germany, which
made the proposal to list the site as endangered, called attention to the
presentations made both by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the U.S.
National Park Service at last year's meeting of the committee, and to Park
Manager Richard Ring's presentation to the Committee just moments before.
Although both Federal and state actions had been taken to moderate the
ecological problems under which the park was suffering, the direct and
indirect effects of urbanization and a potential 12 million inhabitants in
South Florida within a generation were catastrophic to the World Heritage

Calling attention to the Committee's new Operational Guidelines,
which did not require participation in the decision by the country
concerned, the U.S. abstained from the discussion, although Robert Milne,
the chief U.S. delegate, noted afterward that, as in other sites on the
Danger list, the function of the select list was to aid in a site's
recovery, giving it added attention and the consequent political momentum
for improvement that was so often necessary. The Everglades is the only
site of the seventeen U.S. World Heritage sites to be listed on the Danger
list. (See below).



The day's session opened with what had been planned as a ten-minute
presentation and request that the World Heritage Centre continue to work
toward a detailed proposal for monitoring methodology, to be voted on in
1994. Instead, delegates spent the better part of the morning in discussion
over many issues already reached in the Experts' Meeting on Monitoring in
Cambridge, UK, on 1-4 November 1993.

A spokesman for the Centre, Herman van Hooff, made a brief summary of
the Cambridge meeting, noting that day-to-day monitoring must be the
primary responsibility of the state parties; nevertheless, in the same way
that the advisory bodies, IUCN and ICOMOS currently reviewed nominations to
see that they met the Convention's criteria, it was necessary that outside
evaluators make periodic reports of each site on a cyclical basis to ensure
that the significant characteristics of each site were being maintained to
consistent World Heritage standards. In particular, for many sites there
was little baseline information by which to evaluate changes taking place;
the collection of this information was indispensable to systematic and
professional monitoring. The group of experts had recommended that the
Committee invite State Parties to put on-site monitoring arrangements in
place; and that it instruct the Centre to continue preparation of a more
detailed methodology and plan of action for presentation to the Bureau in
June 1994.

Some delegates hadn't read the two documents on monitoring
methodology. Another, GERMANY, asked how these procedures would be
different than earlier monitoring attempts by the Committee, which some
years previous had sent monitoring forms to States Parties asking for their
completion. The Centre's director reiterated the role of the independent
evaluators, noting as well that the new database for baseline information
would clearly distinguish the former, unsupervised informal attempt from
the present proposal. The UNITED STATES delegate spoke enthusiastically of
the new proposals, urging that the Committee not get bogged down in
procedural matters before the Centre had presented a formal report for
approval. The sooner the baseline information was available the better;
perhaps in the future baseline information for new sites could be published
each year along with the publication of the new World Heritage List.

BRAZIL, followed by COLOMBIA and later SENEGAL all expressed concern
that the costs of monitoring programs to developing countries might be
impossible to meet. Faced with the cost of monitoring a large site,
COLOMBIA said that it might well be deterred from making the nomination in
the first place. The Centre's director, Mr. von Droste, acknowledged that
the budgetary line would need to be increased across the board, but that
they needed the time now to determine just what additional expenses would
flow from the added obligations.

GERMANY referred to the extensive experience of the World
Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) in monitoring, as well that of other
agencies and organizations. How could the Committee be sure that this
experience would be integrated into World Heritage monitoring? The Centre's
director responded that it was clearly necessary that all models be
considered, but he reminded the delegate that the monitoring meeting had
been held in conjunction with WCMC, as well as with the Getty Conservation
Institute, and other groups with experience in the field.

The delegates from FRANCE, SENEGAL, COLOMBIA, and BRAZIL all
expressed concern that as a result of differing financial abilities between
countries that monitoring not foster an imbalance between developed and
developing countries. Mr. von Droste in reply noted that the Global
Environmental Facility, then in executive meetings in an adjoining room may
well be able to assist countries in their monitoring exercises, since the
condition of sites had the potential to effect a wide range of
international assistance projects. Although the director attempted to defer
continued discussion of these points to the forthcoming Bureau meeting,
discussion continued as first LEBANON and then ITALY asked for more
information, questioning details of the Cambridge report.

The TUNISIAN observer, chairman of the Committee two years
previously, attempted to summarize the importance of monitoring and how
important it was to have baseline information, concluding by asking the
Committee's support for the Centre's proposal. Spokespersons for ICCROM and
ICOMOS also weighed in with expressions of support for uniform monitoring.

The CHAIR asked for consensus. COLOMBIA and BRAZIL both were anxious
to reaffirm for the record that the Centre and the Bureau make a clear
assessment of costs. The Centre's director explained that he had taken
careful note of the remarks and that the forthcoming report would carefully
consider the different economic and political dimensions of the issue. In
its work, the report would consider the evidence of site managers and NGOs,
as well as international assistance organizations like the GEF and UNDP in
determining the costs of establishing baseline information.

As it was then about noon, the Committee took a break, resuming
shortly after 12.30 to a slide presentation by IUCN spokesperson Jim
Thorsell summarizing conditions at nine World Heritage natural sites that
had been selected for review. These would be reviewed after the lunch break
in greater detail for the Committee's consideration. In passing, he noted
that this was the tenth year in which IUCN had presented monitoring reports
on World Heritage natural sites. Over half of them (now numbering 87, plus
15 mixed natural and cultural sites) had been visited by IUCN


The meeting resumed shortly after three o'clock with a more detailed
discussion of the natural sites under review. Jim Thorsell took the floor

The site had been placed on the Danger list last year at the
Committee's meeting in Santa Fe. Thorsell noted the devastating effects of
the new Amazon basin-Andes road construction, for which, despite promises,
no environmental impact assessment had yet been done. A great increase in
poaching and small-scale agriculture were indirect effects of the road,
which were widely documented. IUCN, in consultation with local groups,
recommended a six-point action plan which the Committee should urge on the
appropriate Ecuadorian agencies. The Committee concurred with this

This site was being expanded and had received assistance from the
Government of Denmark for a buffer zone and other local community projects.
No action by the Committee was needed.

This site was added unilaterally to the Danger list last year by the
Committee. The local Bodo tribe, in opposition to the State of Assam, had
moved into the park, claiming it as their own territory. Park rangers had
been killed and at least nine one-horned rhinos had been poached earlier
this year. The government of India had never answered any of the Centre's
requests for information about the situation in the four years in which the
park had seen agitation. IUCN recommended that the Committee continue to
express its concern.
Several states which had been on the committee the longest questioned
why the Committee should continue to put up with a lack of response from
India. THAILAND, GERMANY, and the UNITED STATES all expressed the view that
the unprecedented step of delisting the site should be considered. Should
another observer mission be sent? Thorsell said no, that would be
impossible as Assam was no longer allowing any visits. The delegate from
PERU urged a more conciliatory tone: the Committee should attempt to
discover why there was a problem in Delhi. The TUNISIAN observer added that
his understanding was that the problem was in Assam and not Delhi, and that
the problem was outside of Delhi's control. LEBANON concurred, but the
UNITED STATES delegate, citing a long relationship between their respective
park and archaeological agencies, said that the responsibility for
international obligations like the World Heritage was a Federal one, not a
state issue. THAILAND's recommendation of a "last" letter was worthy of
support. Looking for consensus, Mr. von Droste said he would ask the UNESCO
regional office in Delhi for more facts; and that a letter would be sent
without the threat of delisting. Dr. Thorsell suggested that the Director-
General might write the Prime Minister. After some additional discussion,
over the reservation of THAILAND, consensus was reached on a conciliatory

A host of management problems beset this park, which was hampered by
an out-of-date management plan. The park authorities were to be
congratulated on introducing buffer zone legislation, but that a letter
should be sent to His Majesty's Government urging the adoption a new
management plan addressing the new problems. Consensus.

This site was also inscribed on the Danger list in 1992 because of
warfare between the government and the Tuareg rebel alliance. Nothing could
be done until political stability returned.

The site had been of concern to the Committee for several years
because of a new road being constructed through the park. However, the
mitigation measures asked for by the Centre had largely been put in effect
and the road essentially completed. Impacts on the park were "as minimal as
could be expected." The IUCN spokesman, however, expressed concern over the
regional consequences of the road, which could be expected to bring new
traffic and have other social and economic impacts on the area of the park.
The Committee should ask to be kept informed of Senegal's efforts to
address these impacts, as well as contribute to the Park's 40th anniversary
next year. Consensus.

Sinharaja is the largest tract of tropical rain forest remaining in
Sri Lanka. However, there has been a slow, incremental encroachment by
farmers, converting the forest to permanent agriculture. Thirty villages
with a population of 5,000 surround the park, and pressure on the park is
increasing. IUCN recommends that the Committee write expressing support for
the recently completed revised management plan, while encouraging the
continued monitoring of encroachment areas. Consensus.

In response to food scarcity, local residents were allowed into the
conservation area to practice cultivation on a temporary basis. This
cultivation is now out of control, with slopes being farmed that are
totally unsuited for agriculture. This new cultivation has had serious
impacts on water catchment values, vegetation cover, and wildlife. The
regional IUCN office has urged placing the site on the Danger list.
Thorsell noted that the Committee had two options: to unilaterally add the
site to the Danger list; or to recommend its listing.
For the Centre, Mr. von Droste noted that the site had been on the
Danger list once before (1985-90); and that recent reports from the Getty
Conservation Institute indicated that no efforts by the authorities were
being made to protect the Olduvai Gorge. FRANCE reported that the UNESCO
Director-General urged a mission to the site. The Director said that a
mission would be arranged, and the Centre would write asking for Tanzania
to submit the site to the Danger list.

The IUCN visit to the site earlier this year had been the first by
either IUCN or a World Heritage representative. Thorsell described it as "a
park ranger's nightmare" -- 500 km in length with a very high border/area
ratio. It has a large and growing population in many neighboring villages,
as well as two new fishing villages within the park. Until the WHC grant
this year, park staff had not been paid salaries for six months and no
government funds were available for operations. Poaching, particularly of
hippos and buffalo, was extensive. The threats to Virunga, the IUCN
spokesman related, are as serious as those in any park in Africa.
There was extensive debate on whether the site should be placed on
the Danger list, as the delegates from THAILAND, ITALY, and the UNITED
STATES urged. The US delegate recalled that at the Bureau meeting, the
recommendation had been that both this site and Ngorongoro should be placed
on the danger list pending site visits. He urged again that the "Danger"
designation was not a black mark but rather a mark of higher priority and
greater attention for the site, as the revised Operational Guidelines made
clear. SENEGAL and LEBANON urged caution; the Committee should not ignore
the feelings of Zaire, the latter said. SENEGAL was concerned that Zaire
might not understand the Committee's interpretation of the Danger list;
FRANCE and SPAIN supported SENEGAL's proposal to send a diplomatic mission
first. Thorsell reminded the delegates that Zaire was perfectly aware of
what the listing meant. Garamba National Park had only recently been on the
Danger list, had benefitted from it, and had been removed from the Danger
list only last year. The UNITED STATES expressed disappointment that the
advances made by the committee in using the danger list as a tool to
improve conditions at sites were being disregarded. The delegate urged
support for the THAI position, since it was clear that the site was among
the most endangered in the world.
In a surprise move for a body normally ruled by consensus decisions,
to shorten debate, the Chair called for a vote. The vote was 7-8 with the
majority opposed to placing Virunga on the Danger list. There were two
abstentions. The Centre agreed to write a letter expressing the concerns of
the Committee.

A proposal to construct a third dam on the Zambezi River would flood
several gorges within the World Heritage Site. The environmental impact
assessment is only now being conducted. The committee should request to be
kept informed, while at the same time urge that the joint Zimbabwe-Zambia
Victoria Falls management committee be reactivated.

The remaining properties, Plitvice Lakes (Croatia) and Mt. Nimba
(Guinea/Cote d'Ivoire) were described by a spokesman for the Centre, which
had sent missions to both sites.

The site had been placed on the danger list last year because of
continuing civil war in the area. Although the state of nature conservation
was excellent still, social tension in the area is high. UNPROFOR forces
must still remove mines on the access road before a complete inspection of
the park can be made.

* MT. NIMBA NATURE RESERVE (Guinea/Cote d'Ivoire)
The Centre spokesman described the complex negotiations that had
taken place to resolve the questions that hung over this site, which had
been placed on the Danger list last year by the Committee. New maps had
been prepared and concessions made by the Government of Guinea to commit
the mining company to an "Environmental Convention", with NGO participation
and mining company proceeds toward conservation projects. In any case, it
was unlikely the mine would operate until the war ceased. The Bureau had
accepted the findings of the Centre's task force.
FRANCE commended the report produced by the task force, noting that
since the conference at Rio, the Committee could not afford to overlook the
multiple social and economic dimensions of park management. Nevertheless,
the Committee must be vigilant in helping the Guinean government meet its

Insufficient funding had not enabled IUCN to make an inspection of
the Everglades as requested by the Committee last year. In its place, the
UNITED STATES offered a condition update by the Park Manager, Richard Ring,
who described some of the problems affecting the 2500 square miles of park,
culminating in the destruction brought by Hurricane Andrew in August 1992.
The US delegate also noted that the site had been placed on the Montreaux
Record, the Ramsar Convention's equivalent to the World Heritage in Danger
List. As noted above, on the initiative of GERMANY, the Everglades was
placed on List of the World Heritage in Danger by the consensus of the

W o r l d H e r i t a g e C o m m i t t e e
-------- Annual Meeting, Cartagena, Colombia, December 6-11, 1993 --------
This distribution is made possible through the cooperation of the Canadian
National Committee of ICOMOS, the Institute for Global Communications, and
a grant from Martha S. Diener. The reports are those of an observer of the
meetings and do not represent official publications of either the World
Heritage Centre or any delegation.
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