UNESCO World Heritage Committee: Inscribes Río Plátano onto the List of World Heritage in Danger

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In its 2011 annual meeting, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve onto the List of World Heritage in Danger. It has also urged Honduras to prove to IUCN and the World Heritage Centre that dams on the Patuca River (one of which is being built by Sinohydro) will not negatively impact of the site.

Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)

The World Heritage Committee Decision 35 COM 7B.31

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

  • Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.34, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),
  • Takes note that the State Party has stabilized the illegal land market by advancing significantly in the land titling process in areas abutting the property, and restructure the administration of protected areas so as to clarify the mandate of pertinent governmental agencies;
  • Expresses its serious concern over the alarming trend in illegal drug trafficking carried out in and around the property, which is undermining conservation efforts, contributing to deforestation within the property, and creating an environment of insecurity;
  • Also takes note that the State Party has requested, by letter to the World Heritage Centre, that the property be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and further notes with appreciation that the State Party adopted a decree recognizing the property as a zone requiring priority action and has decided on the development and implementation of an inter-ministerial action plan to address the situation;
  • Considers that the combination of threats from illegal logging, illegal occupation, the reduced capacity of the State Party and the general deterioration of law and order and the security situation in the region constitute a serious threat to its Outstanding Universal Value;
  • Decides to inscribe Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  • Urgesthe State Party to implement the following corrective measures:
    • Establish permanent and systematic monitoring to identify encroachment and land use changes of the entire protected area, and if possible the broader region, and relocate illegal occupants who have recently settled in the property, in particular in the core zone of the Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve,
    • Continue efforts to negotiate and clarify access to land and natural resources while enforcing existing land tenure and access arrangements and explore opportunities for more meaningful co-management with a particular focus on the indigenous communities of the cultural zone,
    • In cooperation with the indigenous communities concerned, complete land tenure and resource access arrangements adapted to their historical and cultural contexts,
    • In coordination with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, to review in a timely manner, any projects for the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Patuca River until it has been clearly demonstrated to the World Heritage Committee that they will not negatively impact the property's Outstanding Universal Value,
    • Provide the necessary human resources and logistical capacity to the agencies responsible for the protection and management of the property to enable them to regularly monitor and deal with illegal activities affecting the property,
    • Using the ongoing management planning process, seek to coordinate the many actors, various institutions and external supporters involved in Río Plátano in order to significantly improve coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of future management in addressing the issues affecting the property;
  • Also urges the State Party to take the necessary measures, in cooperation with other concerned States Parties, to prevent the use of the property, and surrounding lands, for drug trafficking;
  • Further urges the State Party to consider the various options to redefine the boundaries of the World Heritage property to reflect the increased size of the protected area, the new zonation, and the existing land uses, in order to ensure that the property's Outstanding Universal Value can be more effectively conserved;
  • Requests the State Party to translate the political recognition of the severity of the threats to the property into a coordinated, workable and budgeted long term Action Plan and encourages the State Party to consider a request for International Assistance in support of corresponding efforts;
  • Also requests the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;
  • Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, 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 36th session in 2012.