State of Conservation (SOC)
Virunga National Park (1994)
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:177,160USD
|1994||Financial contribution for the protection of Kahuzi-Biega ...||25,000 USD|
|1993||Financial contribution for the purchase of equipment for Virunga ...||20,000 USD|
|1992||Review of the state of conservation of World Heritage sites in ...||3,750 USD|
|1991||Purchase of a motor boat and of spare parts for motor boats for ...||40,000 USD|
|1990||Training of 2 specialists each from Salonga and Virunga National ...||4,750 USD|
|1988||Equipment to improve protective measures in Virunga National Park||40,000 USD|
|1980||Assistance for Virunga National Park (equipment and consultant ...||43,660 USD|
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Political uncertainties,
- New settlements in the Park,
- Gold mining,
- Livestock grazing,
- Destruction of vegetation,
- Agricultural encroachment,
- Over-exploitation of fish populations,
- Lack of financial resources
Current conservation issues
Kahuzi Biega National Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List under criterion (iv) in 1980, and Virunga National Park, inscribed under criteria (ii)(iii)(iv) in 1979, both contain the last population of mountain gorillas.
Due to the tragic events in Rwanda, both parks are under threat given the massive arrival of refugees from Rwanda. On 31 August 1994 the World Heritage Centre was informed that a UNHCR refugees camp for 50,000 people was going to be established near a three-kilometre strip of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park near Ihembe. The World Heritage Centre contacted immediately the UNHCR (Geneva), the Director of IZCN, Mr. Mankoto Ma Mbaelele, (Kinshasa), who was carrying out monitoring missions at World Heritage sites in Zaire, and a bilateral project by the GTZ (Germany). The Centre obtained relocation of the camp near Uvira which took the pressure from the site.
However, in spite of the relocation of the camp, the entire region and particularly Virunga National Park, situated at the border between Rwanda and Uganda has been destabilized by the uncontrolled arrival of refugees causing deforestation and poaching at the sites. In order to assist Zaire in this critical state and to help stabilize the situation, the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee approved a total of US$ 50,000 emergency assistance for both sites, Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Virunga National Park. With the relocation of the camp, the Kahuzi-Biega World Heritage site seems to be less threatened, whereas the situation at Virunga National Park remains very critical.
Analysis and Conclusion
The Committee is requested to examine the report to be presented by IUCN and to consider then if any action should be taken.
Link to the decision
Virunga National Park (Zaire)
The Committee recalled that at its last session it was deeply concerned about the civil unrest in Zaire which led to donors (EEC and USAID) suspending their support to this site. Many Park staff had not been remunerated for almost a year. Despite the fact the Bureau granted emergency assistance of US$ 20,000 to meet costs of field operations, poaching of wildlife has continued and the capability of staff to patrol the 650 km long boundary of the Park remains far below desirable levels. Human population in the fishing village near Lake Idi Amin has grown several fold and pose a serious threat to the integrity of the Park. Since July 1994, the threats to the Park have exacerbated several fold by the influx of almost 1 million refugees, fleeing the war in Rwanda, adjacent to the southern parts of the Park. The fuelwood demand of the refugees camped inside the Park, estimated at 600 metric tons/day, is leading to widespread depletion of forests in the lowlands; the Mountain Gorilla and its habitats at higher elevations, fortunately, have not been impacted so far.
The Committee was informed by the Representative of IUCN that the Director of the Zairois Institute for the Conservation of Nature has verbally indicated his agreement to IUCN's suggestion of placing this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Accordingly, the Committee included Virunga National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee recognized that a major effort over the next decade will be needed to rehabilitate and strengthen management of Virunga and obtain local support for its conservation. Furthermore, the Committee requested the Centre to communicate its decision to UNHCR and other agencies involved in the management of refugee camps in and around Virunga and express its concern over depletion of forest resources in the Park, stressing that utmost care be taken to avoid establishment of refugee camps in or near national parks. The Committee also asked the Centre to inform the Government of Zaire of its willingness to co-operate with IUCN as well as WWF, World Bank, UNDP, UNHCR and GTZ and provide technical cooperation and training assistance to address threats to the integrity of Virunga.
Link to the decision
Virunga National Park
During its examination of monitoring reports, the Committee noted the serious threats to Virunga National Park arising from the Rwandan refugee immigration. Accordingly, the Committee agreed to place Virunga National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
No draft Decision
Democratic Republic of the Congo
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Detailed List of SOC reports
Inscription on the Danger ListYear: 1994
Threats to the Site:
Virunga National Park was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger at the 18th Session of the World Heritage Committee (1994) in the wake of the war in neighbouring Rwanda and the subsequent massive influx of refugees from that country which led to massive deforestation and poaching at the site.
Many members of the Park staff had not been remunerated for almost a year.
Poaching of wildlife has continued and the staff lacks the means of patrolling the Park's 650 km long boundary.
The human population in the fishing village near Lake Edward has increased several fold, posing a serious threat to the integrity of the Park.
The fuel wood requirements of almost one million refugees camping inside the Park is estimated at 600 metric tons/day and is leading to widespread depletion of forests in the lowlands.
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).