21 new UNESCO «World Heritage» sites

21 new World Heritage sites

UNESCO Press. 2.Aug. 2010

The 34th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia since 25 July today finished its consideration of nominations for the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Meeting under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Culture of Brazil, João Luiz da Silva Ferreira, the Committee inscribed 21 new sites, including 15 cultural, 5 natural and 1 mixed properties, making a total of 911 sites inscribed on the List. Three countries, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tajikistan, had sites added for the first time. One existing natural site was also recognized for its cultural values and thus becomes a mixed site.

The World Heritage Committee also added four sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger and removed the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) from this List.

The new sites on the World Heritage List of Sites in Danger are (in alphabetical order):

·        Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Georgia)]

·        Rainforests of Atsinanana (Madagascar)

·        Tombs of  Buganda Kings (Uganda)

·         Everglades National Park  (United States of America)

The new mixed site is:

·        Papahānaumokuākea (United States of America)

The new cultural sites are:

·        Australian Convict Sites (Australia)

·        São Francisco Square in the Town of São Cristovão (Brazil)

·        Historic Monuments of Dengfeng, in the “Centre of Heaven and Earth” (China)

·        Episcopal City of Albi (France)

·        Jantar Mantar (India)

·        Sheikh Safi al-Din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil (Islamic Republic of Iran)

·        Tabriz Historical Bazaar Complex (Islamic Republic of Iran)

·        Bikini Atoll, Nuclear Test Site (Marshall Islands)

·        Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Mexico)

·        Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca (Mexico)

·        Seventeenth-century Canal Ring Area inside the Singelgracht, Amsterdam (Netherlands)

·        Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (Republic of Korea)

·        At Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah (Saudi Arabia)

·        Proto-Urban site of Sarazm (Tajikistan)

·        Imperial Citadel of Thang Long-Hanoi (Viet Nam)

The new natural sites are:

·        China Danxia (China)

·        Pitons, Cirques and Remparts of Reunion Island (France)

·        Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati)

·        Putorana Plateau (Russian Federation)

·        Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka)

World Heritage sites that have been extended are:

·        City of Graz – Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg (Austria)

·        Pirin National Park (Bulgaria)

·        Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water management System

·        Røros Mining Town and the Circumference (Norway)

·         Churches  of Moldavia

·        Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley and in Siega Verde (Portugal))

·        Monte San Giorgio (Italy)

The Committee also recognised the cultural values of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania), which was inscribed in 1979 as a natural site. This property now becomes a mixed site.

The 34th session of the World Heritage Committee opened on 25 July and will close on 3 August. The next session will be held in June 2011 in Bahrain.

More details about the new sites

At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah
Saudi Arabia
Criteria: (iv)(v)(vi)
This property was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, in the heart of the Arabian Penisula, north-west of Riyadh. Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian peninsula. In the 18th and early 19th century, its political and religious role increased, and the citadel at at-Turaif became the centre of the temporal power of the House of Saud and the spread of the Wahhabi reform inside the Muslim religion. The property includes the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir’iyah oasis.

Australian Convict Sites
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
The property includes a selection of 11 penal sites, among the thousands established by the British Empire on Australian soil in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are located on the fertile coastal strip from which the Aboriginal peoples were then forced back, mainly around Sydney and in Tasmania, as well as on Norfolk Island and in Fremantle. They housed tens of thousands of men, women and children condemned by British justice to transportation to the convict colonies. Each of the sites had a specific purpose, in terms both of punitive imprisonment and of rehabilitation through forced labour to help build the colony. The property presents the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.

Bikini Atoll, nuclear tests site
Marshall Islands
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
In the wake of World War II, in a move closely related to the beginnings of the Cold War, the United States of America decided to resume nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall archipelago. After the displacement of the local inhabitants, 67 nuclear tests were carried out from 1946 to 1958, including the explosion of the first H-bomb (1952). Bikini Atoll has conserved direct tangible evidence that is highly significant in conveying the power of the nuclear tests, i.e. the sunken ships sent to the bottom of the lagoon by the tests in 1946 and the gigantic Bravo crater. Equivalent to 7,000 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb, the tests had major consequences on the geology and natural environment of Bikini Atoll and on the health of those who were exposed to radiation. Through its history, the atoll symbolises the dawn of the nuclear age, despite its paradoxical image of peace and of earthly paradise. This is the first site from the Marshall Islands to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was the Royal Inland Road, also known as the Silver Route. The inscribed property consists of 55 sites and five existing World Heritage sites lying along a 1400 km section of this 2600 km route, that extends north from Mexico City to Texas and New Mexico, United States of America. The route was actively used as a trade route for 300 years, from the mid-16th to the 19th centuries, mainly for transporting silver extracted from the mines of Zacatecas, Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí, and mercury imported from Europe. Although it is a route that was motivated and consolidated by the mining industry, it also fostered the creation of social, cultural and religious links in particular between Spanish and Amerindian cultures.

Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi
Viet Nam
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(vi)
The Thang Long Imperial Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty, marking the independence of the Dai Viet. It was constructed on the remains of a Chinese fortress dating from the 7th century, on drained land reclaimed from the Red River Delta in Hanoi. It was the centre of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. The Imperial Citadel buildings and the remains in the 18 Hoang Dieu Archaeological Site reflect a unique South-East Asian culture specific to the lower Red River Valley, at the crossroads between influences coming from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south.

Episcopal City of Albi
Criteria: (iv)(v)
On the banks of the Tarn river in south-west France, the old city of Albi reflects the culmination of a medieval architectural and urban ensemble. Today the Old Bridge (Pont-Vieux), the Saint-Salvi quarter and its church are testimony to its initial development (10th -11th centuries). Following the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heretics (13th century) it became a powerful episcopal city. Built in a unique southern French Gothic style from local brick in characteristic red and orange colours, the lofty fortified Cathedral (late 13th century) dominates the city, demonstrating the power regained by the Roman Catholic clergy. Alongside the Cathedral is the vast bishop’s Palais de la Berbie, overlooking the river and surrounded by residential quarters that date back to the Middle Ages. The Episcopal City of Albi forms a coherent and homogeneous ensemble of monuments and quarters that has remained largely unchanged over the centuries.

Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”
Criteria: (iii)(vi)
Mount Songshang is considered to be the central sacred mountain of China. At the foot of this 1500 metre high mountain, close to the city of Dengfeng in Henan province and spread over a 40 square-kilometre circle, stand eight clusters of buildings and sites, including three Han Que gates – remains of the oldest religious edifices in China -, temples, the Zhougong Sundial Platform and the Dengfeng Observatory. Constructed over the course of nine dynasties, these buildings are reflections of different ways of perceiving the centre of heaven and earth and the power of the mountain as a centre for religious devotion. The historical monuments of Dengfeng include some of the best examples of ancient Chinese buildings devoted to ritual, science, technology and education.

Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong
Korea, Republic of
Criteria: (iii)(vi)
Founded in the 14th-15th centuries, Hahoe and Yangdong are seen as the two most representative historic clan villages in the Republic of Korea. Their layout and location – sheltered by forested mountains and facing out onto a river and open agricultural fields – reflect the distinctive aristocratic Confucian culture of the early part of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The villages were located to provide both physical and spiritual nourishment from their surrounding landscapes. They include residences of the head families, together with substantial timber framed houses of other clan members, also pavilions, study halls, Confucian academies for learning, and clusters of one story mud-walled, thatched-roofed houses, formerly for commoners. The landscapes of mountains, trees and water around the village, framed in views from pavilions and retreats, were celebrated for their beauty by 17th and 18th century poets.

Jantar Mantar
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
The Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India’s historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.

Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca
Criteria: (iii)
This property lies on the northern slopes of the Tlacolula valley in subtropical central Oaxaca and consists of two pre-Hispanic archaeological complexes and a series of pre-historic caves and rock shelters. Some of these shelters provide archaeological and rock-art evidence for the progress of nomadic hunter-gathers to incipient farmers. Ten thousand-year-old Cucurbitaceae seeds in one cave, Guilá Naquitz, are considered to be the earliest known evidence of domesticated plants in the continent, while corn cob fragments from the same cave are said to be the earliest documented evidence for the domestication of maize. The cultural landscape of the Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla demonstrates the link between man and nature that gave origin to the domestication of plants in North America, thus allowing the rise of Mesoamerican civilizations.

Proto-urban site of Sarazm
Criteria: (ii)(iii)
Sarazm, which means “where the land begins”, is an archaeological site bearing testimony to the development of human settlements in Central Asia, from the 4th millennium BCE to the end of the 3rd millennium BCE. The ruins demonstrate the early development of proto-urbanization in this region. This centre of settlement, one of the oldest in Central Asia, is situated between a mountainous region suitable for cattle rearing by nomadic pastoralists, and a large valley conducive to the development of agriculture and irrigation by the first settled populations in the region. Sarazm also demonstrates the existence of commercial and cultural exchanges and trade relations with peoples over an extensive geographical area, extending from the steppes of Central Asia and Turkmenistan, to the Iranian plateau, the Indus valley and as far as the Indian Ocean.

São Francisco Square in the Town of São Cristóvão
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
São Francisco Square, in the town of São Cristovão, is a quadrilateral open space surrounded by substantial early buildings such as São Francisco Church and convent, the Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia, the Provincial Palace and the associated houses of different historical periods surrounding the Square. This monumental ensemble, together with the surrounding 18th- and 19th- century houses, creates an urban landscape which reflects the history of the town since its origin. The Franciscan complex is an example of the typical architecture of the religious order developed in north-eastern Brazil.

Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)
The historic urban ensemble of the canal district of Amsterdam was a project for a new ‘port city’ built at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries. It comprises a network of canals to the west and south of the historic old town and the medieval port that encircled the old town and was accompanied by the repositioning inland of the city’s fortified boundaries, the Singelgracht. This was a long-term programme that involved extending the city by draining the swampland, using a system of canals in concentric arcs and filling in the intermediate spaces. These spaces allowed the development of a homogeneous urban ensemble including gabled houses and numerous monuments. This urban extension was the largest and most homogeneous of its time. It was a model of large-scale town planning, and served as a reference throughout the world until the 19th century.

Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)
[in French only]Construit entre le début du 16e siècle et la fin du 18e siècle, ce lieu de retraite spirituelle soufi utilise les formes architecturales traditionnelles iraniennes. Les constructeurs ont su tirer le meilleur parti de l’espace réduit pour assurer de multiples fonctions, notamment une bibliothèque, une mosquée, une école, un mausolée, une citerne, un hôpital, des cuisines, une boulangerie et quelques bureaux. Le site comprend un cheminement conduisant au sanctuaire du Cheik articulé en sept étapes qui reflètent les sept stades du mysticisme soufi, séparées par huit portes qui représentent les huit attitudes du soufisme. Le site comprend également des façades et des intérieurs richement ornementés ainsi qu’une remarquable collection d’objets anciens. Il forme un rare ensemble d’éléments d’architecture islamique médiévale.

Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centres on the Silk Road. Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for different functions. Tabriz and its Bazaar were already prosperous and famous in the 13th century, when the town, in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan, became the capital city of the Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as capital in the 16th century, but remained important as a commercial hub until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most complete examples of the traditional commercial and cultural system of Iran.

The following natural properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List:

Central Highlands of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Sri Lanka’s highlands are situated in the south-central part of the island. The property comprises the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest. These montane forests, where the land rises to 2,500 metres above sea-level, are home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the western-purple-faced langur, the Horton Plains slender loris and the Sri Lankan leopard. The region is considered a super biodiversity hotspot.

China Danxia
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
China Danxia is the name given in China to landscapes developed on continental red terrigenous sedimentary beds influenced by endogenous forces (including uplift) and exogenous forces (including weathering and erosion). The inscribed site comprises six areas found in the sub-tropical zone of south-west China. They are characterized by spectacular red cliffs and a range of erosional landforms, including dramatic natural pillars, towers, ravines, valleys and waterfalls. These rugged landscapes have helped to conserve sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests, and host many species of flora and fauna, about 400 of which are considered rare or threatened.

Phoenix Islands Protected Area
Criteria: (vii)(ix)
The Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA) is a 408,250 sq.km expanse of marine and terrestrial habitats in the Southern Pacific Ocean. The property encompasses the Phoenix Island Group, one of three island groups in Kiribati, and is the largest designated Marine Protected Area in the world. PIPA conserves one of the world’s largest intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems, together with 14 known underwater sea mounts (presumed to be extinct volcanoes) and other deep-sea habitats. The area contains approximately 800 known species of fauna, including about 200 coral species, 500 fish species, 18 marine mammals and 44 bird species. The structure and functioning of PIPA’s ecosystems illustrates its pristine nature and importance as a migration route and reservoir. This is the first site in Kiribati to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island
Criteria: (vii)(x)
The Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island site coincides with the core zone of La Réunion National Park. The property covers more than 100,000 ha or 40 % of La Réunion, an island comprising two adjoining volcanic massifs located in the south-west of the Indian Ocean. Dominated by two towering volcanic peaks, massive walls and three cliff-rimmed cirques, the property includes a great variety of rugged terrain and impressive escarpments, forested gorges and basins creating a visually striking landscape. It is the natural habitat for a wide diversity of plants, presenting a high level of endemism. There are subtropical rainforests, cloud forests and heaths creating a remarkable and visually appealing mosaic of ecosystems and landscape features.

Putorana Plateau
Russian Federation
Criteria: (vii)(ix)
This site coincides with the area of the Putoransky State Nature Reserve, and is located in the central part of the Putorana Plateau in northern Central Siberia. It is situated about 100 km north of the Arctic Circle. The part of the plateau inscribed on the World Heritage List harbours a complete set of subarctic and arctic ecosystems in an isolated mountain range, including pristine taiga, forest tundra, tundra and arctic desert systems, as well as untouched cold-water lake and river systems. A major reindeer migration route crosses the property, which represents an exceptional, large-scale and increasingly rare natural phenomenon.

The following mixed property has been inscribed:

United States of America
Criteria: (iii)(vi)(viii)(ix)(x)
Papahānaumokuākea is a vast and isolated linear cluster of small, low lying islands and atolls, with their surrounding ocean, roughly 250 km to the northwest of the main Hawaiian Archipelago and extending over some 1931 km. The area has deep cosmological and traditional significance for living Native Hawaiian culture, as an ancestral environment, as an embodiment of the Hawaiian concept of kinship between people and the natural world, and as the place where it is believed that life originates and to where the spirits return after death. On two of the islands, Nihoa and Makumanamana, there are archaeological remains relating to pre-European settlement and use. Much of the monument is made up of pelagic and deepwater habitats, with notable features such as seamounts and submerged banks, extensive coral reefs and lagoons. It is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world.

The Committee also approved extensions for the following sites:

Cultural properties

Church of the Resurrection of Suceviţa Monastery
Criteria: (i)(iv)
With their exterior walls entirely covered in 15th- and 16th- century fresco paintings, directly inspired by Byzantine art, these seven churches in northern Moldavia are unique in Europe. These paintings form a systematic covering of all the facades and their exceptional composition, the elegance of the characters, and the harmony of the colours blend perfectly with the surrounding countryside. The Churches of Moldavia were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The Church of the Suceviţa Monastery completes this complex. Its interior and exterior walls are entirely decorated with mural paintings of the late 16th century. It is situated within the fortified enclosure of the Monastery and is the only one to show a representation of the ladder of St John Climacus.

City of Graz – Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Graz is an exemplary model of the living heritage of a central European urban complex influenced by the secular presence of the Habsburgs. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1999. The extension concerns the castle, Schloss Eggenberg, located about three kilometres west of the historic centre of Graz. It was built shortly after 1625, on the site of an earlier castle, as the state residence of Duke Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg (1568-1634), one of the most prominent political personalities of 17th-century Austria. Schloss Eggenberg is an exceptionally well-preserved example which bears witness, through its architecture and external decoration, to the influence of the late Italian Renaissance and the Baroque period.

Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
The Upper Harz mining water management system, which lies south of the Rammelsberg mines and the town of Goslar, has been developed over a period of some 800 years to assist in the process of extracting ore for the production of non-ferrous metals. Its construction was first undertaken in the Middle Ages by Cistercian monks, and it was then developed on a vast scale from the end of the 16th century until the 19th century. It is made up of an extremely complex but perfectly coherent system of artificial ponds, small channels, tunnels and underground drains. It enabled the development of water power for use in mining and metallurgical processes. It is a major site for mining innovation in the western world.

Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde
Portugal , Spain
Criteria: (i)(iii)
The Prehistoric rock-art ensemble in the Côa Valley, Portugal, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1998, is an exceptional concentration of rock carvings from the Upper Palaeolithic (22,000-10,000 B.C.) and is on a scale that makes it the most outstanding example of early human artistic activity in this form anywhere in the world. The archaeological zone of Siega Verde, in the Castilla y León region (Spain), completes the site. The 645 engravings were made on an impressive cliff, the result of erosion by the river. They are mostly figurative, representing animals, although some schematic and geometric figures have also been identified. The prehistoric rock-art sites of the Côa Valley and Siega Verde represent the most remarkable open-air ensemble of Palaeolithic art on the Iberian Peninsula.

Røros Mining Town and the Circumference
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
The history of the town of Røros is linked to the copper mines. Established in the 17th century, they were exploited for 333 years until 1977. Completely rebuilt after its destruction by Swedish troops in 1679, Røros contains about 2000 wooden one- and two-storey houses and a smelting house. Many of these buildings have preserved their blackened wooden façades, giving the town a medieval appearance. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1980. The extension is a serial site and comprises the Town and its industrial-rural cultural landscapes; Femundshytta, a smelter with its associated area; and the Winter Transport Route. Surrounded by a buffer zone, coincident with the area of privileges (the Circumference) granted to the mining enterprise by the Danish-Norwegian Crown (1646), the property illustrates the establishment and flourishing of a lasting culture based on copper mining in a remote region with a harsh climate.

Natural properties

Monte San Giorgio
Italy , Switzerland
Criteria: (viii)
Monte San Giorgio is a pyramid-shaped, wooded mountain that rises to an altitude of 1096 m above sea level and which lies to the south of Lake Lugano, in the canton of Ticino (Switzerland). The site is regarded as the best fossil record of marine life from the Triassic Period (245-230 million years ago). It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003. The extension is contiguous with the existing site, on the Italian side of the border. The value of this extension lies in the exceptional importance and variety of its Triassic marine fossil record.

Pirin National Park
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)
Spread over an area of over 27,000 ha, at an altitude between 1008 and 2914 m in the Pirin Mountains, southwest Bulgaria, the site comprises diverse limestone mountain landscapes with glacial lakes, waterfalls, caves and predominantly coniferous forests. It was added to the World Heritage List in 1983. The extension now covers an area of around 40,000 ha in the Pirin Mountains, and overlaps with the Pirin National Park, except for two areas developed for tourism (skiing). The dominant part of the extension is high mountain territory over 2000m in altitude, and covered mostly by alpine meadows, rocky screes and summits.

Mixed properties

Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Tanzania, United Republic of
Criteria: (iv)(vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
A large permanent concentration of wild animals can be found in the huge and perfect crater of Ngorongoro. Nearby, the crater of Empakaai, filled by a deep lake, and the active volcano of Oldonyo Lenga can be seen. Excavations carried out in the Olduvai Gorge, not far from there, have resulted in the discovery of one of our more distant ancestors, Homo habilis. Laitoli Site, which also lies within the area, is one of the main localities of early hominid footprints, dating back 3.6 million years.

PILA, patrimonio de la humanidad en riesgo por represas

La edición del 10 de mayo de 2010 de La Prensa es un ejemplo excepcional de buen periodismo ambiental dentro de los medios convencionales panameńos. En buena hora este editorial y el reportaje, que deja al lector con una idea completa de la dimensión del problema.

Felicitaciones a «La Prensa».


Hoy por Hoy

Otro gran tesoro de la humanidad, dentro del territorio panameño, podría pasar a la lista de los patrimonios naturales que la Unesco considera en peligro. Los ríos del Parque Internacional La Amistad –que fuera creado originalmente para tener una reserva hídrica con el fin de asegurar fuentes de agua para el desarrollo del país– son constantemente utilizados para la construcción de plantas hidroeléctricas, so pretexto de garantizar a los panameños la producción de energía necesaria para satisfacer su demanda, y de paso lograr ingresos importantes para las arcas estatales.

Y es que, en el afán de lograr mayores inversiones, los gobiernos panameños de los últimos años no han escatimado en sacrificar nuestra reserva ecológica. La actual administración no ha sido diferente, ya que las concesiones para la explotación de minas y la construcción de hidroeléctricas en importantes ríos del país, son parte de su agenda. Es hora de poner un alto a tanto abuso contra la naturaleza, y de recordar que el recurso más importante de la humanidad es precisamente su riqueza ecológica.


El PILA está en riesgo por represas

Organismos científicos y ambientales realizaron un estudio sobre las consecuencias de los proyectos hidroeléctricos en el Parque Internacional La Amistad.


El 67% de las cuencas hidrológicas del Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA), declarado Patrimonio Mundial, quedará inaccesible para las especies acuáticas diadromas (migratorias entre río y mar) si se desarrollan todos los proyectos hidroeléctricos que se adelantan tanto en Costa Rica como en Panamá.

A esta conclusión llegaron científicos y ecologistas de Estados Unidos, Costa Rica y Panamá, al analizar el impacto de la cantidad de represas que se construyen y se construirán para los proyectos hidroeléctricos en ambos países. En la vertiente atlántica panameña, por ejemplo, 16 especies diadromas probablemente desaparecerán, señala el estudio.

Los efectos ecológicos no solo serían por la desaparición de especies. El documento menciona otras consecuencias, como la deposición de sedimentos y la alteración química y de temperatura del agua de los ríos. Esto sería “catastrófico” para el PILA, dice el documento.

Silvano Vergara, director de Cuencas Hidrográficas de la Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, dijo que el PILA se creó como una reserva hídrica para el desarrollo del país. El funcionario admitió que no hay una evaluación integral de la zona.

El estudio fue enviado a la Unesco, y los científicos y ecologistas piden que el PILA sea incluido por el organismo en la lista de Patrimonio en Peligro.



Represas ponen en peligro la biodiversidad del PILA

La posible desaparición de peces de ríos de Costa Rica y Panamá sería una de las consecuencias del daño al parque, que es patrimonio mundial.

OBSTRUCCIÓN. La construcción de represas bloquea el acceso de especias acuáticas que se mueven entre el río y el mar. Las consecuencias ecológicas de esta situación son diversas y pueden ser graves . LA PRENSA/ Archivo


La construcción de represas en las zonas de amortiguamiento del Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA), tendría “graves” consecuencias para el área natural protegida, declarada Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (Unesco), señala un informe reciente de organismos conservacionistas de Estados Unidos, Costa Rica y Panamá.

El estudio, realizado conjuntamente por el Centro para la Diversidad Biológica (CBD) y la International Community Foundation de Estados Unidos, la Asociación Anai de Costa Rica y la Alianza para la Conservación y el Desarrollo (ACD) de Panamá, detalla el posible daño a la biodiversidad acuática de los ríos de esa zona protegida, que causarían los proyectos hidroeléctricos planificados o en desarrollo, tanto en Costa Rica como en Panamá.

El documento resalta la posible desaparición de especies animales acuáticas diadromas (que se mueven entre agua dulce y salada) en las vertientes atlántica y pacífica de ambos países.

De acuerdo con el estudio, en la vertiente pacífica panameña las represas en construcción y las ya existentes han bloqueado el acceso de estos animales a los ríos y quebradas dentro del parque internacional. Esto, según los científicos, provocará la “eliminación total o casi total de estas especies”.

En el lado Atlántico, los expertos cuantificaron al menos 16 especies diadromas (ocho de peces y ocho de camarones) que probablemente desaparecerán del PILA, si los planes existentes de construcción de las represas se ejecutan.


Pero las consecuencias ecológicas no solo se limitan a la desaparición de especies. De acuerdo con el documento, que toma como referencia casos similares en otros países con ecosistemas similares, la eliminación de fauna acuática afectará las dinámicas de sedimentación, descomposición de materia vegetal y la química del agua.

Esto podría tener “profundos efectos negativos en los sistemas fluviales del PILA”, añade el estudio. Según el informe, los daños se producirán tanto en las partes altas como en las bajas de las represas.

Los proyectos hidroeléctricos pueden “comprometer gravemente” la función del corredor biológico del río Changuinola, advierten los especialistas.

Precisamente sobre esa fuente hídrica se ejecutan dos proyectos hidroeléctricos. El más avanzado es el Changuinola I (Chan 75), que desarrolla la empresa Aes Changuinola, que tiene previsto terminarlo durante el primer trimestre de 2011. Este proyecto ha sido motivo de preocupación para la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos que pidió suspender la obra por posible violaciones a los derechos indígenas.

El pasado gobierno, encabezado por Martín Torrijos, declaró de interés social el proyecto.

“En general, objetamos las políticas gubernamentales que facilitan y permiten la eliminación masiva de especies y su impacto ecológico asociado en el Sitio de Patrimonio Mundial”, señala el estudio.

“El Estado panameño ha destruido o ha permitido la destrucción de la infraestructura ecológica de los ecosistemas de las cuencas hidrográficas de la mayoría de los ríos del país”, indica Ariel Rodríguez, biólogo y presidente de ACD.

Rodríguez envió una carta al administrador de la Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (Anam), Javier Arias en la que hace estas observaciones y, junto a la cual, además, le hizo llegar una copia del estudio.

Los organismos científicos y ambientales también enviaron el documento a la Unesco para que sea considerado en las deliberaciones que este organismo mantiene sobre los riesgos graves que amenazan los ecosistemas naturales de La Amistad como Sitio de Patrimonio Mundial.

Además, piden que el PILA sea incluido en la lista de patrimonio en peligro.


Silvano Vergara, director de Cuencas Hidrográficas de la Anam, explica que cuando se creó el PILA se hizo con un objetivo específico: tener una reserva hídrica para asegurar fuentes de agua para el desarrollo del país.

Igual objetivo cumple el Bosque Protector de Palo Seco, una reserva natural y área de amortiguamiento del PILA.

Vergara recordó que desde 1986 había planes para desarrollar proyectos energéticos en esa zona, los cuales fueron elaborados por el hoy desaparecido Instituto de Recursos Hidráulicos y Electrificación.

El funcionario matiza el impacto de estas obras en el área. “La construcción de los proyectos hidroeléctricos no elimina la fauna, solo la somete a un cambio”, dice Vergara.

Entre tanto, Vera Muñoz, gerente de comunicación de Aes Panamá, asegura que la empresa ha mantenido un “cuidadoso manejo del ambiente” a fin de conservar los ecosistemas, las fuentes de agua y la biodiversidad.

La empresa –dice– trabaja en conjunto con las comunidades y las entidades gubernamentales, y aplica un “cuidadoso plan de manejo”.

Sin embargo, el estudio de los expertos conservacionistas plantea otra realidad. Los planes de mitigación, señala el documento, propuestos por la empresa son “imposibles” de implementar por el diseño de construcción de la represa.