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Committee Decisions

36 COM 7A.4

Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 63)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 35 COM 7A.4, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3. Extends its deepest condolences to the families of guards killed during operations conducted to protect the property, since its last session;

4. Welcomes with satisfaction the significant progress reported by the State Party in the implementation of certain corrective measures, including the resumption of control of 80% of the Park, despite the persistence of pockets of militias in the Park, diminishment of the carbonization problem, the measures taken against encroachment at Lubiliha and the creation of forums for dialogue with the communities to resolve important conflicts;

5. Expresses its deep concern over the granting of a Certificate of Environmental Acceptability for an aeromagnetic and aerogravimetric data gathering campaign, which appears to contradict the Government's decision announced at the 35th session of the Committee to suspend petroleum exploration pending completion of the strategic environmental assessment;

6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to revise its authorizations and not to grant new authorizations for petroleum and mining exploration and exploitation within the property boundaries and recalls its position on the incompatibility of petroleum and mining exploration and exploitation with World Heritage status;

7. Appeals to the TOTAL and SOCO companies to adhere to commitments already made by Shell and ICMM not to undertake petroleum and mining exploration or exploitation within World Heritage properties;

8. Notes that the TOTAL company, in conformity with its current policy of non-exploration of the protected areas of the park, has not undertaken any petroleum or mining exploration or exploitation within the World Heritage properties, and invites it to formally commit to this policy;

9. Requests States Parties to the Convention to make every effort to ensure that petroleum and mining companies in their territory cause no damage the World Heritage properties, in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention;

10. Notes that the report of the State Party refers to an unquantified increase in the numbers of wildlife in some areas of the Park, and considers that it will take time to restore these populations, given that the numbers of most species of large mammals of the plains have been reduced by 50% to 96% since the inscription of the property;

11. Also requests the State Party to undertake aerial surveys of key species to confirm these positive trends and monitor indicators established for the Desired State of Conservation for removing the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

12. Urges the State Party to continue the implementation of the corrective measures decided by the Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011) in accordance with the commitments in the Kinshasa Declaration to rehabilitate the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

13. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a detailed and quantified report on the conservation status of the property and on progress in implementing corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013;

14. Decides to continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism;

15. Also decides to retain Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Themes: Conservation, Reports, List of World Heritage in Danger
Properties: Virunga National Park
Session: 36COM