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Committee Decisions

35 COM 7A.4

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

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7A.4, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

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

4. Welcomes the significant efforts made by the managing authority (ICCN), with the support of donors and conservation partners to implement the corrective measures despite very difficult conditions, especially the persistent problems related to the lack of security;

5. Expresses its deep concern at the alarming decline in numbers of most species of large mammals from 50% to 96%, with the exception of mountain gorillas, since the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and the persistent threats to the territorial integrity of the Park from illegal occupations;

6. Takes note of the conclusion of the mission that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is seriously deteriorated, but could be recovered if the corrective measures are implemented, if a sustained period of good protection can be ensured, and if the Queen Elisabeth National Park in Uganda can continue to serve as a source of repopulation of large mammals for the property;

7. Reiterates its deep concern on the granting of the petroleum exploration permit in an area covering part of the territory of the property, and recalls its position on the incompatibility of petroleum exploration and exploitation with World Heritage status;

8. Also welcomes the decision of the State Party to suspend petroleum exploration in the property, following the commitments contained in the Kinshasa Declaration, pending a strategic environmental assessment, and urges the State Party to cancel any petroleum exploration permit within the boundaries of the property;

9. Urges the State Party to implement corrective measures as updated by the 2010 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission, and in accordance with the commitments contained in the Declaration of Kinshasa to rehabilitate the Outstanding Universal Value of the property:

a) Take steps at the highest level to stop the illegal exploitation of natural resources of the Park, particularly poaching, charcoal production and fishing by undisciplined members of the army and armed groups operating within the property,

b) Strengthen efforts to disarm armed groups operating in and around the property, in cooperation with the United Nations Organization Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO),

c) Close and remove immediately the Nyaleke army training and reunification camp within the Park, in accordance with the decision of the Minister of Defence,

d) Take measures at the highest level to enable the ICCN to continue without political interference, the peaceful evacuation of illegal occupants from the property,

e) Continue law enforcement focusing on priority areas, and maintain the measures taken in the context of the institutional reform to re-motivate the personnel of the Park,

f) Pursue communication and awareness-raising actions targeted towards the authorities and local populations,

g) Pursue actions to eliminate all production of charcoal within the property, and promote alternative energy sources;

10. Requests the MONUSCO to establish a waste management system for their camp in Rwindi within the property, and provide for the dismantling of the infrastructure of the camp upon termination of the mission;

11. Also takes note of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger prepared jointly by the 2010 World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission and the State Party;

12. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a report on the state of conservation as well as on progress in implementing corrective measures, for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 36 session in 2012;

13. Decides to maintain the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism;

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

Themes: Conservation, List of World Heritage in Danger, Reinforced Monitoring
Properties: Virunga National Park
Session: 35COM