1.         Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls (Zambia,Zimbabwe) (N 509)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1989

Criteria  (vii)(viii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/509/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 93,485
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/509/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/509/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 15 February 2012 the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe submitted a comprehensive joint state of conservation report covering progress made during the two-year period since their last report in February 2010. The report addresses the specific issues raised in Committee Decision 34 COM 7B.6 and provides a general update on the implementation of measures taken to satisfy the 2006 mission recommendations. The State Party of Zambia also submitted on 14 October 2011 three environmental project briefs for a five passenger tethered balloon, an amphicoach, and a tent sanctuary and spa lodge facility. The environmental project brief functions as an Environmental Impact Assessment under Zambia’s Environmental Protection and Pollution Control (Environmental Assessment) Regulation, Statutory Instrument No 28 of 1997.

a) Transboundary management co-ordination

The States Parties report that the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) and the Joint Site Management Committee (JSMC) each met twice during 2010 and twice in 2011. The Joint Ministerial Committee is yet to meet. Through the work of these committees annual action plans have been developed and the States Parties’ report details progress made against nine areas of activity in 2010, whilst also providing details of the intended work programme for 2011. The States Parties note that funding remains a challenge and that high staff turnover, prolonged staff vacancies and ‘economic meltdown’ in one State Party have limited the effectiveness of joint operations.

b) Site monitoring

The States Parties report the development of 57 benchmarks and indicators that are being used to monitor progress in maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value and ecological integrity of the property. Details of these benchmarks and indicators are tabulated and progress towards the achievement of each benchmark is summarised. Work on most is still ongoing.

c) Control of invasive species

The States Parties report an intensification of efforts to control invasive species in the falls area using mechanical, chemical and biological methods. A total of 2.5 ha of land was cleared of the invasive weed Lantana camara, but the States Parties note that they face significant challenges due to its rapid regeneration. The slopes of the gorges are now becoming infested and control work is dependent on State Party funding, which is inadequate.

d) Tourism development and regulation

The States Parties report an increase in visitor numbers over the 2009 figure, with a total of 232,400 visitors in 2010 and 215,380 during the first 11 months of 2011. A new helipad has been completed away from the falls so that helicopter operators can be relocated and noise pollution reduced. Both State Parties have upgraded their visitor centres and installed electronic ticketing equipment. Other visitor facilities have been improved on the Zimbabwe side, with a new ticket office and upgrading of ablution facilities.

As noted above, the State Party of Zambia submitted a new project brief for a smaller tethered balloon at a different location. The project brief for this proposal notes that the new location is south of the Eastern Cataract, meaning that the balloon would not appear in the viewing corridor of visitors viewing the Falls from the Zambian side.

e) Other conservation issues of concern – water abstraction, poaching, pollution, and urban development

In respect of other threats and recommendations of the 2006 mission, the States Parties report as follows:

An agreement has been reached to reduce water abstraction for hydro-electric power generation by the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), which entails a 40% reduction in power generation and correspondingly stronger flow of water over the falls for five hours daily during the critical dry months, when water flows in the Zambezi drop below 400 m³/s. This is intended to ensure that water flows over the eastern cataract (on the Zambian side of the falls) during these peak visitor viewing hours. However, the State Party notes that this measure will not be implemented until the power station is connected to the national power grid, and that there will be no reduction in power generation if the water flows in the Zambezi drop below 200 m³/s.

The State Party further notes that poaching has been reduced by 65%, 107 arrests have been made, and 3,662 snares and other items have been confiscated from poachers. In addition, the States Parties have run combined security meetings and patrols, acquired necessary equipment and trained 44 field rangers.

The report further notes that pollution arising from effluent discharge from urban areas on either side of the border is being addressed. Sewerage ponds on the Zimbabwe side have been rehabilitated, but those on the Zambia side are still reported to be leaking. Mitigation measures have been put in place to address pollution from boat sewage, such as the installation of chemical toilets on all boats operating on the Zambezi river.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the progress made since the introduction of the Joint Integrated Management Plan in developing a unified management approach by the States Parties through regular meetings of the Joint Technical and Site Management Committees. They commend the introduction of joint annual action plans and note that their implementation has been constrained by staffing and budgetary issues that are largely beyond the control of the site management authorities. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the committee encourages the States Parties to develop a sustainable financing strategy and business plan for the property, through which, inter alia, increased revenues generated from park entry fees and other sources are available to the property and can be re-invested in addressing management needs.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note the States Parties’ stated intention to develop a comprehensive monitoring plan for the property by December 2012 and encourage the JSMC to make this a priority. There is a need to identify specific quantifiable indicators and collect data in a systematic and replicable manner so as to monitor the status of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and indicators of the property’s ecological integrity.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that despite some improvements, helicopter use and noise remains a significant concern that impacts on the quality of experience of visitors to the property and requires continued regulation and management. Furthermore, after reviewing the project brief, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the new location of the tethered balloon does not mitigate the visual impacts of the balloon on the view from the Zimbabwean side or from river cruises above the falls. They recommend that the Committee recall its Decision 34 COM 7B.6, which re-iterated that any tethered balloon projects close to the property would adversely impact its integrity because, when raised, the balloon is likely to appear within the viewing corridor of the Falls.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the measures taken to halt any furher development of hotels and other tourist facilities on the river banks and islands; to reduce noise and river pollution and to maintain the site’s visual integrity and natural unspoilt beauty. They also note that the State Party of Zambia has submitted three environmental project briefs for a five passenger tethered balloon, an amphicoach, and a tent sanctuary and spa lodge facility before taking a decision on these projects, as required by the Operational Guidelines.

However, with regards to the amphicoach project, the environmental project brief submitted does not currenty adequately address mitigation of visual and physical impacts. Considering the spa project, the brief should include a limit to the height of the tents and other infrastructure associated to the spa lodge, and specify measures to avoid impacts of the spa on the view from the Zimbabwe side of the river. Furthermore, regarding the spa site, adequate measures should be taken to avoid erosion of top soil within and around the spa lodge site, as well as silt run-off into the river or associated streams as a result of surface drainage of rainwater. While it is possible to assess the impacts of individual development projects on the property, the cumulative effects of a range of tourism related developments will together impact on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note historical concerns regarding the visual impact of high structures and recommend that the Committee request the State Party that a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of development within the property and in its vicinity be conducted, in order to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including its aesthetic value and the related conditions of integrity.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the loss of revenue (estimated at USD 218,160 annually) that would be involved in reducing the amount of water diverted from the falls to generate electricity. They however note that the ZESCO plant, as reported by the State Party, requires 175 m3/s to operate at full capacity, which involves abstraction of 44-87% of typical dry-season flows over the September-January period. This level of water abstraction is clearly affecting the visual impact and aesthetic value of the property (the basis of its inscription on the World Heritage List under criterion (vii)), and may be having other long-term impacts such as degradation of the adjacent rainforest as a result of reduced spray at critical times. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee urge the State Party of Zambia to consider further voluntary reductions in dry-season water abstraction so as to fully maintain the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.7

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.6 adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.  Welcomes the further progress of the two States Parties in strengthening the joint management of the trans-boundary property through the work of the Joint Technical and Site Management Committees, and the measures taken to promote sustainable tourism by halting construction of hotels and lodges on the river banks and islands, reducing noise and water pollution, and upgrading visitor facilities at the property;

4.  Encourages the two States Parties to develop a sustainable financing strategy and business plan for the property, recognising that implementation of the Joint Integrated Management Plan may be largely financed from park entry fees and other internally-generated sources;

5.  Also welcomes the voluntary agreement of the State Party of Zambia to introduce a limit on the dry-season diversion of water from the falls for hydro-electric power generation, which would significantly restore a major attribute of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and requests the State Party of Zambia to implement this new water abstraction regime as soon as possible, and consider further reductions in water abstraction by the power station;

6.  Notes that the State Party of Zambia submitted three environmental project briefs, including for a tethered balloon project adjacent to the property, reiterates its previous conclusion at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) that any tethered balloons close to the property will adversely impact its visual integrity, and urges the States Parties not to authorize any tethered balloon or other tall structures within the vicinity of the falls;

7.  Also requests that the State Party of Zambia to address IUCN’s comments regarding the proposed amphicoach and spa lodge projects, before considering whether to proceed with the two proposed projects;

8.  Recommends the States Parties to conduct a joint Strategic Environmental Assessment of developments within the property and in its vicinity, in order to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including its aesthetic value and the related conditions of integrity;

9.  Also recognizes the progress made in developing benchmarks and indicators to monitor the State of Conservation of the property and also requests the States Parties to develop a comprehensive monitoring plan for the property and submit a copy to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2012;

10.  Reiterates its request to the two States Parties to continue their on-going efforts to control invasive species;

11.  Further requests the two States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2014 a jointly prepared report on the state of conservation of the property, including details of progress made in the implementation of measures to address the recommendations of the 2006 mission and the issues mentioned above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E,

2.   Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;

3.   Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

4.   Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;

5.   Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: