1.         Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 280)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1984

Criteria  (vii)(ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1999-present

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

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

A project was drafted during the reactive monitoring mission in 2012 (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/280/documents/) but the indicators basing on the results of the counting of flagship species still needs to be quantifed

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1270

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

It will be established when the indicators will have been finalized

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/280/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1985-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 149,900
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/280/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 320,000 from the United Nations Foundation and the Governments of Italy and Belgium 

Previous monitoring missions

2007, 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a)  Armed conflict, lack of security and political instability;

b)  Poaching by the army and armed groups;

c)  Conflicts with local communities concerning Park boundaries;

d)  Impact of villages located within the property.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/280/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 25 February 2013, the State Party submitted a fairly complete report on the state of conservation of the property. It made mention of the efforts undertaken by the State Party in the implementation of the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint Petersburg, 2012).

The State Party indicated that the main threats affecting the integrity of the property identified by the previous joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission remain present, in particular poaching by armed groups and the local communities, the absence of a protected ecological continuum between the two sectors of the Park and the impact and presence of villages within the boundaries of the Park.

The report provides the following information on the efforts undertaken to implement the corrective measures:

a)  Secure the property to eliminate pockets of rebellion still present within the property

The State Party notes that the important mixed FARDC/ICCN operation, the “Bonobo Operation”, launched in October 2011, is still active and has strengthened security in the property. This intervention enabled the reestablishment of ICCN authority and reinforced the anti-poaching combat.  The State Party notes that 300 soldiers of the 3rd military region of the Equator are divided into three blocks in Salonga National Park (SNP), based respectively at Boleko in the south-west, Monkoto in the centre and Watsikengo in the north of the Park. Joint FARDC/ICCN patrols have assisted in establishing control of 80% of the property and have seized approximately 170 fire arms, 100 hunting rifles and 2000 rounds of ammunition.  1,200 metal traps have been dismantled and several illicit camps have ben destroyed.  The report also provides a detailed list of 36 poachers arrested as well as information on the progress of their courtcase.

b)  Reignite the consultation structure to eliminate poaching in the Park

The State Party indicates that the consultation structure of the property has not yet been reactivated despite the recommendations of the March 2012 mission.  However, the political, military and administrative authorities cooperate closely in continuing the anti-poaching combat and to secure the property. The report notes that the military operations are concentrated between the four provinces and are headed by the 3rd military region of the Equator, that has been instructed to extend its anti-poaching actions to the provinces of Bandundu and the two Kasai. A redeployment project is under study at Headquarters level for a 3rd deployment group to be posted at the Park boundaries to contain poaching activities.

c)  Revise and implement the anti-poaching strategy

The State Party informs that, since 2007, an anti-poaching strategy has been active, but does not provide further details.  With joint patrols, a patroling schedule has been set up, and two teams of eight eco-guards are deployed each month in the six sectors of the Park. The monitoring data gathered by the patrols is fed into the “MIST” system, that was provided by UNESCO.  The report cites the “MIST” data for 2012 for one of the sectors of the Park, Monkoto Sector. However, the State Party notes that staff numbers remain low to ensure an adequate monitoring of the property. The report indicated 250 guards but does not provide any information on equipment (arms, ammunition) and any future or current technical training for the guards, as recommended by the 2012 mission. The State Party mentions that in October 2012, an important cargo of bush meat was seized in the Monkoto sector and that it was burnt publicly to discourage future perpetrators. 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the Committee, on several occasions, has requested a copy of the surveillance strategy; this document was not made available to the reactive monitoring misssion during its visit to the property. However, they commend the very important efforts made to improve the surveillance of the property.

d)  Implement the a global ecological monitoring of the entire Park 

The State Party indicates that the anti-poaching strategy is concentrated on the zones of high density biodiversity that were identified at the time of the inventories in 2005 by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The data gathered by the Milwaukee Zoological Society (MZS) in the Watsikengo Sector have enabled the efforts of the patrols to be concentrated in sensitive areas of the property along the Yenge and Salonga Rivers. However, the data should be updated by new inventories.

e)  Manage the conflicts affecting the natural resources

The participatory delineation procedure of the non-natural boundaries of SNP continued in 2012 and was extended into the Bianga Sector. The State Party mentions the establishment in the Monkoto sector of a platform for fishermen to co-manage the adjacent rivers in the Park but does not provide further information on the mission recommendation to reconsider the boundary granted locally for fishing rights towards the river banks and the establishment of prohibited areas. The State Party notes that Local Conservation Committees (LCC) meet regularly to raise-awareness among the local communities regarding an effective participatory conservation and that the local communities benefit from various support activities. 

f)  Pursue the creation of an ecological continuum between the two sectors of the Park

The State Party indicates the completion of the delineation for the ecological continuum, without further information, but that the listing procedure for the area to be listed as a community reserve has not yet been initiated.

g)  Conduct studies concerning the situation and ecological impact of the two communities established inside the Park before taking any relocation decision

The State Party considers that the negative impact linked to the presence of the two communities etablished within the Park is evident and persistent.  ICCN, with support of WCS-Salonga, sent in November 2012 a socio-economic investigating team to the Lyaelimas community. The results of this study are not yet available but they should direct ICCN in its decision-making process regarding the reloction of these populations. ICCN indicates that the dialogue with the Kitawalists is more complicated and has not yet started, as this community is more often involved in poaching activities.

Finally, the State Party mentions that SNP has a General Management Plan (GMP) and a Business Plan that must be approved by the ICCN General Directorate. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note this major progress and request the State Party to submit an official copy of the GMP.

h)  Other conservation problems

The 2012 mission had received information indicating the interest of the Congolese Government in oil exploration and exploitation in the central basin of the property, and in its Decision 36 COM 7A.7 the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to provide detailed information on these exploration projects that risk encroaching on the property.  The State Party report provides no information in this respect. However, the World Heritage Centre raised this issue during various meetings with ICCN, in particular during the meeting for the evaluation of the Kinshasa Declaration which was held in Kinshasa on 23 January 2013 (see the general report on World Heritage properties in the DRC – document WHC-13/37.COM/7A.).  ICCN indicated that the permits granted were located outside the property,  but did not provide any maps or clarifications.  

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee commends the important efforts of the State Party to secure the property and reduce large-scale poaching, notably of elephants. They note that ICCN now controls 80% of the property but question whether the area is actually covered by surveillance. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note the progress achieved by the managers and their partners concerning the delineation and the participatory management of the rivers, but they recall the importance of establishing prohibited areas along the rivers and to reconsider the locally granted fishing boundaries. They reiterate the importance of seeking a suitable solution for the issue of communities installed inside the Park and to formalize the protection status of the ecological corridor between the two sectors of the Park.

They draw the attention of the World Heritage Committee to the fact that it will take time to establish an effective management structure at the site in view of the vast area, logistical problems, available budgets and the insecurity situation that, despite the improvements, remains an important challenge. They emphasize the importance of carrying out a new inventory of the key species to quantify the state of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and to establish a Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, as well as a realistic timetable. They recommend maintaining the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger and the application of the reinforced monitoring mechanism.

Finally, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to provide more detailed information on the exploration and exploitation projects in the central basin that could encroach on the property.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7A.7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7A.7 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3. Warmly welcomes the important efforts of the State Party to secure the property and reduce large-scale poaching, notably elephants, enabling the management authority to regain control of 80% of the property;
  4. Takes note of the progress reported by the property managers and their partners concerning the participatory management of the natural resources and their involvement in the marking of the property;
  5. Considers that it will need time to establish an effective management of the site in view of the vast area, logistical problems, available budgets and the security situation that, despite improvements, remains an important challenge;
  6. Urges the State Party to continue to implement the corrective measures, as updated by the World Heritage Centre/IUCN joint reactive monitoring mission in 2012 to rehabilitate the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
  7. Requests the State Party to carry out inventories of the flagship species to quantify the state of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, establish a Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, and a realistic timetable;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to provide detailed information on the oil exploration and exploitation projects in the central basin that risk encroaching on the property and recalls its position on the incompatibility of mining and oil exploration and exploitation with World Heritage status;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2014 a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and progress achieved in the implementation of the corrective measures for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014;
  10. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism;
  11. Also decides to retain Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7A.9

 The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7A.36 adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3. Welcomes the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee, a framework agreement with the Mining Cadaster and the progress made in the establishment of the Trust Fund, also known as "Okapi Fund";
  4. Notes with concern the worsening of insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage properties in this region;
  5. Reiterates its request to ensure the full implementation of the commitments made in the Declaration of Kinshasa, and the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan, and requests the State Party to allocate to the inter-ministerial committee, the necessary technical and financial means to ensure adequate monitoring;
  6. Expresses its deep concern about the Hydrocarbons Code project that could make possible oil exploration activities in the protected areas and the World Heritage properties, contrary to the commitments made by the State Party in the Kinshasa Declaration and urges the State Party to ensure that the status of protection of World Heritage properties is maintained;
  7. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to review its mining and oil exploration and exploitation permits to exclude World Heritage properties, and not to grant them within the boundaries of the DRC properties, and recalls the incompatibility of mining and oil exploration and exploitation with World Heritage status;
  8. Also warmly welcomes the support of donor countries to the conservation of the five DRC properties, and calls on the international community to continue its support in the implementation of the corrective measures and the Strategic Action Plan to create the conditions necessary for the rehabilitation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the five properties of the DRC;
  9. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , a detailed report on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, the status of mining and oil exploration and exploitation permits which affect the World Heritage properties, as well as on the Hydrocarbons Code, for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Decision Adopted: 37 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-13/37.COM/7A, WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add and WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add.
  2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: