Decision : 31 COM 8B.9
Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - Rainforests of the Atsinanana
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/8B,
2. Inscribes the Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ix) and (x);
3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
The Rainforests of the Atsinanana are a serial property comprising six components. They contain globally outstanding biodiversity and have an exceptional proportion of endemic plant and animal species. The level of endemism within the property is approximately 80 to 90 percent for all groups, and endemic families and genera are common. The serial property comprises a representative selection of the most important habitats of the unique rainforest biota of Madagascar, including many threatened and endemic plant and animal species.
Criterion (ix): The Rainforests of the Atsinanana are relict forests, largely associated with steeper terrain along the eastern escarpment and mountains of Madagascar. The protected areas included in this serial property have become critically important for maintaining ongoing ecological processes necessary for the survival of Madagascar's unique biodiversity. This biodiversity reflects Madagascar's geological history and geographic placement. It is the world's fourth largest island and has been separated from all other land masses for at least 60-80 million years and thus most of its plant and animal life has evolved in isolation. These forests have also offered important refuge for species during past periods of climate change and will be essential for the adaptation and survival of species in the light of future climate change.
Criterion (x): The level of endemism within the property is approximately 80 to 90 percent for all groups, and endemic families and genera are common. Madagascar is among the top countries known for their "megadiversity" and features an extraordinarily high number (circa 12,000) of endemic plant species. The property is also globally significant for fauna, especially primates, with all five families of Malagasy primates, all endemic lemur families, seven endemic genera of Rodentia, six endemic genera of Carnivora, as well as several species of Chiroptera represented. Of the 123 species of non-flying mammals in Madagascar (72 of which are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species), 78 occur within the property. The critical importance of the property is underlined by the fact that deforestation has left eastern Madagascar with only 8.5 percent of its original forests and the property protects key areas of this remaining habitat.
All components of the serial property are formally protected as national parks and have management plans in place. Key management issues include effective control of agricultural encroachment and resource exploitation from logging, hunting, and gem mining. These issues require the implementation of clear and coordinated management strategies to manage the components of this serial property as a single entity. Also, coordinated planning and management of this serial property with adjacent protected areas and forest corridors is required, for which additional financial and human resources need to be obtained. There is potential for further extension of the property to include adjacent protected areas and forest corridors once they meet the conditions of integrity.
4. Commends the State Party for its significant and encouraging efforts to protect the rainforests of Madagascar;
5. Requests the State Party to submit a detailed topographic map showing the revised boundary of the property following the exclusion of identified components originally included in this serial nomination;
6. Recommends the State Party to:
a) Consider this as Phase 1 of a larger World Heritage nomination which could be brought forward when conditions of integrity are adequately met. Subsequent phases should be based on a review of potential future addition of appropriately protected areas of high nature conservation value to the property, with priority to those major tracts of land presently forming corridors of natural forest between existing reserves within the property;
b) Progressively increase the level of staffing and resources within all reserves within the property and also develop a long term strategy for financing of all reserves within a larger World Heritage nomination, as well as adequate financing for management of corridors between existing reserves within the property;
c) Develop a proactive community development programme, which would support socio-economic activities outside of the existing reserves to reduce pressures for resource exploitation within the property; and
d) Further develop and implement strategies to reduce the impact of illegal logging and small scale gem mining within the property.