Decision : CONF 205 V.98-102
Ngorongoro Conservation Area (United Republic of Tanzania)
V.98 The Bureau noted that the Centre received a “Draft Plan to Control Vehicle Congestion in the Ngorongoro Crater”. Through a letter from the UNESCO Office, the State Party requested assistance to undertake a study to evaluate the environmental impact of vehicle pressure in the Ngorongoro Crater and to examine ways of managing vehicle numbers with a view to keeping a balance between protecting the ecosystem and maintaining tourism. There has been a 7% annual increase in tourists to Ngorongoro Crater since 1991, and the Crater attracts over 75% of the visitors with vehicles to Ngorongoro. The State Party is concerned that the number of vehicles on the Crater floor has reached excessive levels with recordings of 140 vehicles at one time, and that continuous and excessive vehicle traffic is taking a perceptible toll on the environment. Measures have been proposed in the Draft Plan including: encouraging medium sized vehicles; cutting down the number of stay hours by introducing a shift system; reviewing the pricing system; diversification of attractions outside the Crater; and training of tour drivers and guides.
V.99 IUCN furthermore received reports of the extensive spread of an invasive alien species, the "Mexican poppy" (Argemone mexicana, Family Papaveraceae) in the wheat fields around Karatu, inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). The invasive species is a potential threat to the Serengeti ecosystem, which is contiguous with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and to the vegetation in the Crater floor. In the worst case scenario, it could spread through the grass plains, competing with local species and therefore taking away an important food source of the ungulates. This species is highly toxic to humans and animals. It is important to avoid the spread of this aggressive alien by carefully monitoring all areas, especially the roadsides and by collecting and burning the plants before they set seeds. There have also been reports of other invasive species Gutenbergia (Erlangea) cordifolia and Bidens spp., which have infested up to one-quarter of the Crater floor.
V.100 The State Party has noted that it is aware of the situation with regard to these invasive species and has been carrying out some initiatives to eradicate the weeds. It has also indicated its willingness to accept assistance in identifying invasive species and setting up an eradication programme. IUCN has been involved in discussions with various parties on the eradication of these species, including the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group and is willing to provide technical assistance as required. IUCN also remains concerned about the ecological impact of the canal and road works.
V.101 The Observer of Tanzania expressed his appreciation concerning the details of the report and notes that an in-depth analysis of the problems is required. He stated that the State Party would need technical assistance to carry out such information gathering and rapid analysis to be available by September 2001.
V.102 The Bureau requested the State Party to undertake a study on the impact of vehicles in Ngorongoro Conservation Area with view to examining ways for vehicle management. Furthermore, the Bureau welcomed the recommendations made by IUCN and requested a detailed state of conservation report from the State Party by 15 September, on the extent and impact of the invasive species, as well as on methods for their control and eradication, to be reported to the twenty-fifth extraordinary session of the Bureau. The technical request was drawn to the attention of the Centre.