formulate relevant policy measures for the property and, specifically, to review and approve or deny any project proposal which may affect the conservation value of the property.
However, the mission noted that the SWHMC does not request nor does it receive regular reports from the biodiversity monitoring programmes already in place, and its agenda appears at this time to be limited to reactively managing issues, as opposed to proactive oversight of the property. In addition, the SWHMC does not have any direct management responsibilities for the property, for example budget oversight. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the management authority should establish regular reporting on the property’s state of conservation to the SWHMC, including information on habitat, wildlife populations and the conditions of local people, in order to allow the Committee to proactively manage the property and identify issues of concern early on.
b) Review existing infrastructure within the property with a view to better controlling impacts and, where possible, removing infrastructure and allowing habitat restoration with native species;
The mission noted that any infrastructure planned prior to inscription has been stopped, with the exception of the Yaoji dam (discussed under point (e) below), that the relief phase of the disaster recovery following the earthquake has just concluded and that ecological restoration has not yet started. However, the SWHMC has recently approved the development of a tunnel at Balangshan with the commitment to build, as part of the tunnel construction, animal corridors above the tunnel to facilitate wildlife movements. The SWHMC has identified two tiers of management including ‘strict core’ areas, in which the only use options are related to research and education activities, and ‘World Heritage protected area’, which permit some human habitation by local communities that were already established at the time of inscription. The SWHMC has rejected applications for 16 hydropower plants in the property and has established management principles prohibiting medium-large infrastructure and limiting road construction in the core zone. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN strongly urge the State Party and the SWHMC to apply the same management principles prohibiting large scale infrastructure and limiting road construction in the ‘World Heritage protected area’ zone, which has the same World Heritage status as the so-called “core zone”.
As part of post-earthquake construction, previously existing hydropower sites will be evaluated on an individual basis prior to approval for re-construction and, in all cases, the SWHMC will require that any hydropower facility maintain a minimum of 30% original flow. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that while this minimum flow is an important starting point, it may also be necessary to ensure seasonal fluctuation in flow levels in order to support biodiversity downstream of any dams, some of which may need variation to support life cycles. In order to determine the levels required, biodiversity surveys and identification of species that may require such variation will be needed for all dam sites as well as ongoing monitoring.
c) Review the possibilities for future addition of areas of high nature conservation value to the property; with priority on those areas which are particularly important for panda habitat and which are close to but outside the property. Options for developing conservation corridors linking the property with other suitable areas of panda habitat should also be reviewed;
As the earthquake and its aftermath have taken up significant time and resources from the Management Committee and management units, the options for addition of high nature conservation values to the property have been delayed somewhat. However, the mission noted that the SWHMC has identified the Caopo provincial nature reserve (in the North East of the property), the Tianquan and Yingjing counties to the south of the property, both having giant panda populations, as potential areas for expansion.
The mission recommends that once recovery from the earthquake is complete, strong consideration should be given to including the Rongjin Nature Reserve within the property.
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 17