UNESCO World Heritage Committee alerts Nepal to be cautious on new development projects to safeguard its WH properties
The World Heritage Committee which met at Doha, Qatar from 15 to 22 June 2014 urges Nepal to ensure Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for any planned development projects or major restorations within or in the vicinity of its World Heritage properties.
A Three-member delegation led by Bhesh Narayan Dahal, Director General of the Department of Archaeology, Surendra Sapkota, Under Secretary from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and Debendra Bhattarai, the national focal point for World Cultural Heritage property represented Nepal in the 38th session.
The Committee examined the state of conservation reports of the three out of four World Heritage properties in Nepal- Chitwan National Park, Sagarmatha National Park and Lumbini, the birthplace of the Lord Buddha.
Chitwan National Park:
The Committee has welcomed Nepal's success of anti-poaching measures as indicated by two recent Years of zero rhino poaching, 2011 and 2013, as well as the strong community support for the conservation of the Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage property since 1984.
The Committee also noted with concern the reported plans for the East-West electric railroad and the Tarai hulaki highway crossing the property including the start of bridges construction related to the highway project in the buffer zone of the national park. These projects, if implemented as planned through the property, would represent a clear potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including through habitat fragmentation, wildlife disturbances and an increased risk of poaching and other illegal activities (Decision 37 COM 7B.69).
In its Decision, the Committee requests EIAs in conformity with IUCN’s Advice Note, including an assessment of cumulative impacts and alternative alignments, and further details on the proposed projects. It also demands Nepal to put on hold any construction of infrastructure that could preclude the viability of alternative alignments that do not require crossing the property, until the EIA for these projects has been completed and to submit a report on the state of conservation of the property and on the status of the infrastructure projects and implementation of the requests by 1 February 2015 at its next session.
Sagarmatha National Park:
Expressing its sincere condolences to the families of the Sherpas killed in the avalanche on 18 April 2014, the Committee has encouraged Nepal to invite, within the framework of International Assistance request, an IUCN advisory mission for technical advice on the overall state of conservation of the property of Sagarmatha National Park, with particular attention to the impacts of the Kongde Veiw Resort that is reportedly still operating within the property, and tourism on the OUV of the property.
In its Decision, the Committee requests updated report by 1 December 2015 on the state of conservation of the property and the progress with respect to legal proceedings related to the Kongde Veiw Resort for examination by the Committee at its 40th Session in 2016 (Decision 38 COM 7B.68).
In addition, Nepal is also required to send the revised Sagarmatha National Park Tourism and Management Plan for 2014-2018 for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN. The Committee has also encouraged Nepal to consider submitting a minor boundary modification to recognize the existing buffer zone of the park as a buffer zone to the property in consistent with the operational guidelines of the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
Lumbini, the birthplace of the Lord Buddha:
The Committee, while noting progresses made in developing the Integrated Management Framework (IMF) document, Integrated Management Plan/Process (IMP), EIA as well as conservation measures and awareness raising efforts taken for Lumbini, also urged Nepal to adopt the IMF document and not to approve any development project within the property, or in the adjacent areas identified as having potential archaeological significance, before the completion of the IMP and before conducting a HIA. The Committee has also encouraged Nepal to develop a strategy for the protection of the larger Greater Lumbini Area and its settings, including Tilaurakot and Ramagram, the two sites on the Tentative List of World Heritage, and to further reduce industrial activity in the vicinity of the property.
In its Decision, the Committee requests updated report by 1 December 2015 on the state of conservation of the property for examination at its 40th session, in addition to detailed information on the proposed development of the Lumbini World Peace City in the Greater Lumbini Area and information about any other proposed major restoration or new construction in the vicinity of the property, for review by the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines (Decision 38 COM 7B. 18).
Twenty-six new sites have been added to the World Heritage List during the 38th session. The World Heritage List now numbers 1007 properties, 779 cultural, 197 natural and 31 mixed as having outstanding universal value for humanity, in 161 countries. 191 States Parties have ratified the World Heritage Convention to date. Click here for more information.
The 39th session of the Committee will take place in Bonn, Germany, from 28 June to 8 July, 2015, during which the report on the state of conservation of Kathmandu Valley World Heritage property is also scheduled to be examined.
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