Decision : CONF 204 IV.A.6
Simen National Park (Ethiopia)
The Bureau recalled that the Committee at its last session noted the report of the technical mission to the site, (2-9 November 1996), which identified the deterioration of the Walia ibex population, loss of biodiversity, encroachment at the borders of the site and impacts of the construction of a road through the Park, and, as stipulated in Paragraph 79 of the Operational Guidelines, included Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Bureau was informed that the Head of the Bureau of Agriculture of the Bahir Dar Region, where Simen National Park is located, informed the Centre of his Regional Government's disagreement with the Committee's decision to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger. He drew the Centre's attention to the fact that although Simen was neglected in the past, currently Simen receives high attention and effective protection. The number of Walia Ibex has increased as a result of proper protection of the Park and the Central and the Regional Governments are implementing a rehabilitation programme to restore the Park's infrastructure to its previous state. Furthermore, he indicated that the Regional Authorities do not accept the statement in the report of the technical mission to Simen, undertaken in November, 1996: i.e. "A majority of participants endorsed the recommendation that Simen Mountain National Park should be listed as World Heritage site in Danger". Following the Committee's decision to include Simen National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the Regional Authorities in Bahir Dar have decided not to convene the technical workshop, originally scheduled for 10-18 April, 1997, and for which the Committee approved a sum of US$ 30,000 at its last session. They have called upon the Central Government of Ethiopia to co-operate with concerned national and regional institutions to organize a discussion forum with UNESCO in order to reverse the decision taken by the Committee.
The Bureau noted that a mission to Simen National Park had been undertaken by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) from 10 to 25 April 1997 and that a buffer zone development project for the site is under consideration.
The Bureau acknowledged the possibility that the views of the Regional Government in Bahir Dar may not have been accurately reflected when the Committee decided to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Nevertheless, the Bureau called upon the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar to view the Committee's decision in a positive light and to proceed with convening the stakeholders meeting. The Bureau in particular requested the Director of the Centre to meet with the Permanent Delegate of Ethiopia to UNESCO to resolve the problem and to explain the Committee's decision. Furthermore, the Bureau recommended that the Centre and IUCN take actions to assist the Ethiopian authorities to convene the stakeholder's meeting and to submit a report to the twenty-first session of the Committee in December 1997 so as to enable the Committee to review Simen National Park's status as a World Heritage site in Danger.