World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


World Heritage site in conflict area comes off ‘danger list’

Colombian World Heritage site in conflict area comes off ‘danger list’, as advised by IUCN

Bonn, Germany, 30 June 2015 (IUCN) – Colombia’s Los Katíos National Park has been taken off the List of World Heritage in Danger today at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting taking place in Bonn, Germany. The decision follows advice by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, – the official advisory body on nature to the Committee.

After suffering extensive damage from illegal logging, poaching and overfishing, which proliferated in a climate of armed conflict in the area, Los Katíos was danger-listed in 2009 at the request of the government of Colombia. The park authority has now regained control of the site thanks to intensified patrolling and engaging local communities in the sustainable use of the area’s natural resources, allowing the site to be removed from the danger list.

This is what the danger list is about: a constructive mechanism to stimulate joint efforts nationally and internationally to take concrete action in the face of imminent threats to our common heritage,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “Colombia took advantage of the danger listing and made every effort to start reversing the critical situation this exceptional site was in.

Los Katíos National Park was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1994 due to its outstanding biodiversity. Bordering Panama’s Darien National Park – also a World Heritage site – the park is part of a larger area that is important for the survival of threatened species, such as Baird’s Tapir, the Giant Anteater, American Crocodile and West Indian Manatee. With no formal border crossing between Colombia and Panama, the area, known as the Darien Gap, is one of the world’s most species-rich regions of moist lowland and montane rainforest, with exceptional numbers of endemic species.

However, due to its remoteness and strategic location, forming the narrowest ‘land bridge’ between two subcontinents and between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the area is also affected by the transit of armed groups and those displaced by armed conflict, as well as drug trafficking and the illegal use of natural resources. Decades of internal armed conflict in the area have resulted in the National Park managers losing control over Los Katíos. Poverty in rural areas near the World Heritage site has also fuelled demand for its resources in the absence of alternative sources of livelihood.

While the security situation in the area is still not fully resolved, the park’s management is now in a position to operate in the entire site. An IUCN field mission in January 2015 confirmed that the steady increase in patrolling and cooperation with local communities since the park was danger-listed has had positive results, including a reduction in illegal activities.

Agreements on the sustainable use of natural resources with local communities, who are now involved in monitoring fish populations, have succeeded in containing overfishing and overharvesting of the site’s rivers and swamps.

Dialogue with the Indigenous Wounaan community, who consider parts of the park as their ancestral land, is also progressing. Their ancestral rights are now recognised, and cooperation to maintain a balance between the community’s livelihood needs and conservation objectives has become an integral part of the site’s management.

Colombia’s efforts over the last six years to respond to complex challenges affecting both the integrity of Los Katíos National Park and the livelihoods and security of local communities have been impressive and must be sustained to secure the long-term conservation of the site,” says Tilman Jaeger, IUCN World Heritage Advisor. “Natural World Heritage sites are much more than just beautiful places – they also support people’s lives. We have all to gain by managing them in a sustainable, participatory way.”

Colombia has also re-affirmed that there is no legal basis for two large infrastructure projects, potentially threatening the park, to be constructed within the site’s boundaries. These include the last missing link of the Pan-American Highway – the world's longest road crossing North, Central and South America, which is interrupted at the Darien Gap – and an electricity transmission corridor linking Colombia to Panama. Possible indirect impacts will have to be understood and considered if these infrastructure projects eventually take shape.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>

Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>