The World Heritage Centre received on the 6 January 2006 a state of conservation report for the property from the State Party, through its site management authority, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), as well as the report ‘The effects of congestion of vehicles on the environment – an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the Ngorongoro Crater, Results from the scoping process’.
The State Party report provides an update on the information reported to the Committee at its 29th session and covers the following issues:
Management and Planning
The general management plan is under its final stage of review and was due to be adopted in April 2006. The Authority has also put in place a corporate plan, a new scheme of service and organization structure, although these are not described further.
With the support of many partners an EIA on vehicle congestion in the Ngorongoro Crater is currently under preparation. The results of the scoping process for the EIA were submitted by the State Party (17 January 2006). At the same time NCAA reports taking several mitigation measures to reduce tourism impacts, including the regulation of vehicles, increased fees and provision of information. Walking safaris and cultural tourism, involving resident communities, and visits to other areas of the NCA are also being encouraged. The State Party is planning to introduce a booking system for the Crater if the above measures are not successful in reducing the impact, although no timeframe for this is provided.
Boundaries and encroachment
NCAA reports that it continues to stop immigrants from entering and illegally cultivating within the property, and notes areas under cultivation are declining, although no specific area figures are given. Following the boundary resurvey reported in 2005, the title deed has still not been issued by the Ministry of Lands. Boundaries have been demarcated and this has reportedly solved the problem of encroachment.
Resident pastoralist population
The State Party report notes that the World Heritage property does not have the capacity to sustain the current Maasai population of 60,000 people and 360,000 cattle. It has now successfully acquired 400ha of agricultural land outside the property for the voluntary relocation of immigrants. Development of infrastructure to meet basic human needs on this land is planned over the next two years so that up to 200 households can voluntarily relocate outside the NCA. The State Party recognizes the need to reduce the numbers and improve the quality of the livestock production and find alternative livelihoods, such as through tourism. The authority has purchased an estate of 430 ha just outside the main entrance gate of the NCA in the view of relocating NCAA and tourist lodge staff currently housed on the rim of the Crater. It is not clear from the report whether the land for the Maasai community and the land to be provided to the staff is the same.
The State Party reports that a prescribed burning programme has been put in place to reduce the spread of invasive weeds, with 400 ha successfully burnt in September 2005. A combination of manual removal, mowing and burning has also been applied to areas infested by the Mexican Poppy which is now reported to be eradicated from the Crater.
The State Party report is encouraging in relation to progress on a number of issues. However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received a variety of other reports and comments on the report provided by the State Party claiming that management action on the ground is inadequate and raising concerns about the current state of conservation of the property. In particular, these reports to the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note:
a) Encroachment, forest destruction, erosion and cultivation within the property are ongoing and increasing, and boundary patrolling is inadequate. Action and resources to stop immigration are insufficient and plans to move people out and reduce livestock numbers are too slow in comparison to the ongoing increases. In addition, foreign NGOs have brought in additional livestock to improve the livelihoods of pastoral communities, while camels, an exotic species, have recently also been introduced.
b) The high numbers of tourists coupled with inadequate infrastructure and poor management is resulting in serious ecological problems and environmental degradation.
c) Insufficient involvement, capacity building and equitable sharing of income with the local Maasai community.
d) Significant impacts on limited water resources, critical for the wildlife and habitat of the property and its inhabitants.
e) A number of alien species, other than the Mexican Poppy, require attention to ensure that they are regularly controlled. Range management is currently receiving very little attention.
f) Inadequate implementation of the previous general management plan (GMP).
g) The State Party report fails to mention current plans to develop a new five star tourist lodge, “Ngorongoro Mountain Lodge”, on the rim of the Crater within the World Heritage property and possibly another lodge on the crater rim at Empakai.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are in touch with the Institute of Resource Assessment of the University of Dar-es-Salaam, charged with carrying out the EIA currently underway on behalf of the ‘Mountain Lodge’ developers, and have requested that they be consulted to review the EIA’s preliminary outcomes. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are concerned that this development will only increase the pressure from tourism on the property and considers that a better option would be to develop the Wildlife Lodge already in place or to consider development outside the World Heritage property.
In its report, the State Party has not given the trends in data revealed by the bi-annual monitoring of fauna such as Wildebeest and other ungulates in the Conservation Area. The Committee upon the request of NCAA took note at its 26th session of the study published in 2002: Ngorongoro Crater Ungulate Study 1996-1999, Final Report. No mention is made in the State Party’s reports of the implementation of recommendations of this study, such as the establishment of a multidisciplinary scientific committee and the commissioning of a hydrological survey of the whole NCA, as well as the outcomes of the monitoring of these ungulate populations (see Decisions 26 COM 21(b).22 and 29 COM 7B.1).
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are concerned by the reports they have received on the state of conservation of this property, conflicting with that of the State Party itself. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN therefore considers that it is necessary to arrange a monitoring mission to the property to meet with the State Party and other stakeholders to get a clearer picture of the current situation and to bring forward clear recommendations to the 2007 World Heritage Committee.