1.         Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 137)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1997-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 119,270
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: through the United Nations Foundation and the Government of Belgium funded programme for the Conservation of the DRC World Heritage properties. First phase (2001–2005): approximately USD 300,000 was disbursed for staff allowances, equipment, community conservation, monitoring and training activities and efforts to address encroachment. Second phase (2005-2008): a substantial contribution is planned towards the emergency action plan (USD 300,000) with funding from the Government of Belgium.

Previous monitoring missions

UNESCO mission in 1996. Several UNESCO missions in the framework of the project.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Armed conflict and political instability;

b) Poaching by military and armed groups;

c) Encroachment;

d) Illegal mining and deforestation.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

On 30 January 2006, an updated report on the state of conservation of the five DRC World Heritage properties was submitted by the State Party, including information on the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. The report recalls the major threats to the property, in particular the presence of rebels from Rwanda in the property, encroachment by large scale farmers, mining inside the Park, deforestation, population pressure on the Park and conflicts with local people, particularly those resulting from the extension of the Park in 1975.The report describes a number of activities initiated by the State Party, in cooperation with its partners, to respond to these threats, as well as certain constraints, which were reviewed during the UNESCO monitoring mission.

From 3 to 23 March 2005, an UNESCO monitoring mission visited Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park. IUCN joined the mission in Kinshasa for debriefing meetings with the DRC protected area administration and the ministry. The mission notes that in spite of the continuing threats to the property, certain positive developments were observed since 2004. After the war of General Nkunda in August 2004, security improved considerably in the highland sector of the Park, in particular on the eastern side of the mountains. This resulted in a stabilisation of the gorilla population in this sector and improved cooperation between the Park and the local communities. An inventory of the gorilla population conducted in the highland sector in November 2004 found 168 gorillas, a considerable improvement compared to the estimate of 130 found in the survey of 2000.

In the lowland sector however, the security situation remains precarious, as the region is the scene of regular armed clashes between the DRC army (FARDC), assisted by troops from the United Nations Organization Mission in DRC (MONUC), and elements of the Rwandan rebel movement FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda). FDLR use the Park as their operational base, in the corridor between the highland and lowland sector in the Nindja area, in the western side of the highland sector in Bunyakiri and in the lowland sector in Swiza, a former mining area located inside the Park. FDLR is reported to be actively engaged in mining activities in the Park and is also thought to be responsible for much of the poaching. In addition, several other armed groups operate in the region.

FARDC also has numerous military positions around the Park. The reunification and retraining camp, where former militia and army soldiers are retrained for integration in the new reunified army, is situated at Kibirizi, outside the Park. Army troops are reported to be poorly disciplined, badly paid, if at all, and lacking the necessary logistical tools MONUC has a base at the Kavumu airport and is ensuring the security on the Miti-Hombo road, which goes through the Park.

The presence of armed groups but also of the FARDC in the property has a negative impact on its conservation. The armed militia depend for their survival on the resources of the Park and its surroundings and are heavily involved in poaching and resort to looting the surrounding villages. As reported before, they are also involved in the mining activities inside the Park, which provides them with a key source of revenue. Although no figures are available, it is clear that their activities have an extremely negative impact on mammal populations. However, the mission also received information from ICCN Park staff and conservation NGOs that soldiers of FARDC are also involved in destructive activities, in particular poaching, artisinal mining and bamboo harvesting.

It needs to be noted that relations between the Park and the military command in the province are good and that regular joint patrols are conducted between Park guards and the army. For example, a joint action between FARDC and Park staff around the Itebero area was able to chase out poachers and armed groups and close down mining sites. MONUC has also given support to Park operations, in particular logistical support.

A major threat to the Park seems to be the actual military strategy used by FARDC with assistance of MONUC to deal with FDLR. In the two months prior to the mission, several military operations took place in which FDLR base camps were attacked, resulting in a retreat of the rebels into the forests of the Park. From a conservation perspective, the operations have negatively impacted the property as they have driven the rebels inside the Park, where they engage in mining and poaching activities. Following the attacks, FDLR has taken revenge on the local communities living around the property, killing numerous villagers, raping women and burning down houses.

As a result of this insecurity, Park staff only control a limited part of the property. Although the two Park stations Itebero and Nzovu in the lowland sector are again manned by guards since 2004, and three patrol posts were rehabilitated in 2005, it is estimated that only 15 percent of the Park is actually covered by ICCN patrols.

The mission noted that for the moment it is impossible to assess the real impact of the war on the conservation of the Park, in particular the lowland area. The last complete survey of that sector dates from 1994-1995, before the start of the war. In 2005 survey activities started in the Itebero area, but they had to be interrupted because of the security situation. In the area surveyed, presence of gorillas was confirmed, as well as other mammals like duikers, buffalos and leopards but no sign of the presence of elephants could be detected. The mission considers that it is necessary to conduct a survey of the entire lowland area, as soon as the security situation allows it, to be able to assess the real impact of the war and ongoing insecurity on the property.

The mission also enquired about the situation in the corridor connecting the lowland and highland sectors of the Park. The corridor is of utmost importance for the ecological integrity of the property, but is at the centre of conflicts both with the local communities of the Nindja area (part of which was included in the Park when it was extended in 1975) and between a number of important people in the region, who in the 1980s illegally occupied farmland abandoned at the end of the colonial time and which was subsequently included in the extension. These, and other, issues underline the importance of clear demarcation of the Park boundaries. ICCN hopes to reopen its discussion on the Park limit as soon as the security situation allows.

The mission also noted that the Park is receiving clear political support from the government and the provincial and local authorities. The mission met with the recently appointed Governor of the South Kivu province, who pledged his support for the protection of the World Heritage property. The Park authorities were also able to develop good relations with the local traditional chiefs, who are actively supporting conservation efforts. Remarkably, the Park authorities were also able to improve considerably the relations with the local communities during the war as the devastating effects of armed groups on both the Park and the local villages created a clear common agenda. However, with elections approaching, certain politicians are trying to use the Park in the framework of their political campaign. An example is the Minister of Lands, who recently proposed in an official letter to diminish the size of the Park to its original size of 60,000 ha which existed before 1975.

The UNESCO mission felt that given the instability in the region and the rapidly changing situation in the field, it was currently impossible to define a set of corrective measures and benchmarks that will clearly lead to a removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. However, the mission developped a set of concrete recommendations to the State Party which can be used by the Committee to follow up on the efforts of the State Party to further improve the state of conservation of the property. These are detailed in the draft decision.

The mission noted that the Park has received, over the years, substantial technical and financial support, in particular from the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and more recently from UNESCO and various NGOs, but that the funding available is insufficient to ensure effective management of the property. The German development Bank is also planning to include the property in the programme it is developing to assist the DRC protected area system. The mission also developed, together with ICCN and the conservation NGO working in the property, an emergency action plan that will be implemented in the framework of the second phase of the UNESCO DRC World Heritage programme with funding from the Government of Belgium. The action plan will support the above mentioned recommendations.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7A.6

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7A.4, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Commends the State Party, in particular the Park authority ICCN and its conservation partners for the efforts to improve the state of conservation of the property and for submitting a report on the state of conservation of the property;

4. Urges the State Party to implement immediately the recommendations of the UNESCO monitoring mission which could constitute possible benchmarks in order to safeguard the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property, and in the interest of conservation:

a) The Congolese army (FARDC), in consultation with the Park authority ICCN, needs to develop a strategy to evacuate all armed groups from the property, in particular rebels belonging to FDLR (Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda) and implement this evacuation in cooperation with the MONUC. The strategy will also need to take into account the closing of all illegal mining operations inside the property. The strategy has to avoid driving FDLR rebels inside the property, as is currently the case, where they engage in mineral extraction and poaching;

b) Substantially strengthening the presence of ICCN Park guards in the lowland sector of the Park, with the assistance of FARDC;

c) Reclaiming as soon as the security situation allows the farms inside the Park on the basis of the results of the 2001 provincial committee ("Commission des Etatiques Provinciaux concernés par le Conflit foncier du PNKB"), noting that the delimitation of the Park limits in the ecologically important corridor between the lowland and highland sectors remains a priority;

d) Strengthening the cooperation between ICCN and its partners by developing a joint planning for all interventions in the Park, with clear responsibilities and benchmarks;

e) Conducting as soon as the security situation allows a survey of flagship species present in the lowland sector of the Park, in particular gorilla and other primates;

f) Strengthening the law enforcement in the property, thereby gradually increasing the amount of the Park that is covered by guard patrols, in cooperation with MONUC and the army. At the same time it is important to reinvigorate the Park staff and improve their efficiency through specialized training;

g) Establish a trust fund for the rehabilitation of the DRC World Heritage properties, to which the Government of the DRC committed to contribute at the 2004 UNESCO conference on Heritage in Danger in DRC;

5. Requests the Director General to ask the United Nations Organization Mission in DRC (MONUC) to continue and strengthen its cooperation with ICCN and its conservation partners for the conservation of the property;

6. Calls on international donors to support the efforts of the State Party to rehabilitate the property;

7. Requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with an updated report by 1 February 2007 on the state of conservation of the property and progress with the implementation of recommendations of the UNESCO monitoring mission, for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007 ;

8. Decides to retain Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-06/30.COM/7A and WHC-06/30.COM/7A.Add.Rev),

2. Maintains the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

   • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 30 COM 7A.22)

   • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley, (Decision 30 COM 7A.23)

   • Azerbaijan, Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (Decision 30 COM 7A.29

   • Benin, Royal Palaces of Abomey (Decision 30 COM 7A.16)

   • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.1)

   • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 30 COM 7A.31)

   • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.2)

   • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.3)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.8)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.6)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Virunga National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.7)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Garamba National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.4)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Salonga National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.5)

   • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 30 COM 7A.19)

   • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.9)

   • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.15)

   • India, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Decision 30 COM 7A.13)

   • Islamic Republic of Iran, Bam and its Cultural Landscape (Decision 30 COM 7A.25)

   • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 30 COM 7A.20)

   • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 30 COM 7A.34)

   • Nepal, Kathmandu Valley (Decision 30 COM 7A.26)

   • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 30 COM 7A.10)

   • Pakistan, Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Decision 30 COM 7A.27)

   • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 30 COM 7A.32)

   • Philippines, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Decision 30 COM 7A.28)

   • United Republic of Tanzania, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (Decision 28 COM 7A.17)

   • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.14)

   • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 30 COM 7A.33)

   • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 30 COM 7A.21)