Located on the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, Mount Nimba rises above the surrounding savannah. Its slopes are covered by dense forest at the foot of grassy mountain pastures. They harbour an especially rich flora and fauna, with endemic species such as the viviparous toad and chimpanzees that use stones as tools.
Outstanding Universal Value
A veritable « water tower » with about fifty springs between the Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea, the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve is dominated by a chain of mountains that culminate at 1,752 m altitude at Mount Nimba. The slopes, covered with dense forest at the lower levels, with grassy mountain pastures, overflow with particularly rich endemic flora and fauna. Extending over a total of area of 17,540 ha, with 12,540 ha in Guinea and 5,000 ha in Côte d’Ivoire, the property is integrated into the public domain of the two States.
This Reserve contains original and diverse species of the most remarkable animal and plant populations, not only in West Africa, but also in the entire African continent; notably threatened species such as the Micropotamogale of Mount Nimba (Micropotamogale lamottei), the viviparous toad of Mount Nimba (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis) and chimpanzees that use stones as tools.
Criterion (ix): Part of the rare mountainous chains of West Africa, Mount Nimba rises abruptly to an altitude of 1,752 m above a rolling panorama and giving way to forested plains at the lower altitudes. It is an isolated refuge covered with montane forests, making the landscape of the Gulf of Guinea an exceptional site from the ecological perspective. Its geomorphological characteristics and its sub-equatorial montane climate of strong seasonal and altitudinal contrasts produce a rich variety of microclimates. This latter factor has contributed to the individualization of an insolite plant and fauna population, as well as a dynamic and exceptionally varied ecosystem.
Criterion (x): Its unique geographical and climatic location combined with its biogeographical background provides the Nimba chain with one of the most remarkable diversities of the whole West African region. It is also one of the only sites of the Gulf of Guinea with a strong endemism potential. The wide range of habitats in the Reserve with its numerous niches enables the property to provide shelter to more than 317 vertebrate species, 107 of which are mammals, and, to more than 2,500 invertebrate species with a strong endemism level.
The viviparous toad of Mount Nimba (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis), critically threatened with extinction due to its very reduced breeding area, only lives in high altitude habitats. Another endemic species in danger of extinction is the micropotamogale of Mount Nimba (Micropotamogale lamottei), a small semi-aquatic insectivore. Several species of threatened primates are also present, including chimpanzees capable of using tools.
The Reserve contains a very important plant population, with a dense forest covering the lower level of the massif up to 1,000 m altitude, replaced higher up by a montane forest rich in epiphytes. The massif of Nimba has summits that extend over 15 km in length and covered with montane savanna. More than 2,000 species of vascular plants, including several endemic or quasi-endemic plants have been recorded.
The property includes almost the totality of the massif of Nimba located in Guinea and the Côte d’Ivoire. Today, the Reserve covers an area of about 17,540 ha of which 12,540 ha in Guinea and 5,000 ha in Côte d’Ivoire. The part of the massif located on the territory of Liberia is greatly degraded due to former mining activities. The property therefore includes the necessary sufficient habitats to sustain its integrity.
In the Guinean part, an enclave where mining has occurred is directly adjacent to the property. Even if this exploitation is technically outside the property, it remains questionable as to whether it may be worked without affecting the integrity of this property.
Protection and management requirements
Since 1944, Mount Nimba enjoys the status of strict protection in its northern part – today shared between Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. The Reserve is clearly delineated by its natural boundaries (water ways) recognized and respected by the neighbouring populations. In Côte d’Ivoire, its status has been strengthened by Law 2002-102 of 11 February 2002 that confers the quality of public domain inalienable to the State. All the land rights of the Reserve are now the exclusive property of the State and any installation of human activity is prohibited. In addition to the legal framework, the Ivorian State has established a reinforced institutional framework that decentralises certain administrative functions to the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR) by decree No. 2002-359 of 24 July 2002 and to the Foundation for Parks and Reserves (FPRCI) to seek permanent funding.
With regard to Guinea, the 1944 status remains the legal basis for protection. It is important that this protection is transcribed in Guinean law by means of a legal process. The administration of the Reserve is assured by a public establishment of administrative and scientific character (Centre for the Management of the Environment of Mount Nimba-Simandou (CEGENS)) under the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests and Sustainable Development. The Guinean part was pronounced Biosphere Reserve in 1980.
The massif is threatened by increased pressure adjacent to the boundaries of the site, caused by the neighbouring populations and increased demographic pressure. Although the natural forests that cover the slopes of Nimba have not suffered much damage, on the contrary, the fauna has been the subject of very intense poaching.
The need for land for agriculture and cattle breeding has strengthened the traditional practice of clearing by fire. These anthropic fires occur regularly in the protected area, constituting an important administrative challenge. The participation of the neighbouring population in conservation measures is indispensible to remedy these problems.
Surveillance of the property must be assured to dissuade the practices that damage its integrity. Also, the capacities of the management authorities must be reinforced both at the technical and human resource levels as well as the financial means.
Strict nature reserve established by Order No. 4190 SE/F, 1943, in Cote d'Ivoire and by decree in 1944 in Guinea. Cote d'Ivoire nature reserve is a 'forêt classée' under national ownership. Contiguous nature reserve proposed in Liberian section. Guinean sector accepted as a biosphere reserve in 1980. Both reserves form a World Heritage site, gazetted in 1981 (Guinea) and 1982 (Cote d'Ivoire). Source: Advisory Body Evaluation