1.         Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Côte d'Ivoire,Guinea) (N 155bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1981

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1992-present

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

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see pages https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1266  and  https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1575

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet established

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/155/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-2010)
Total amount approved: USD 435,222
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/155/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted:  USD 25,282 from the Rapid Response Facility in January 2012 (see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/830/)

Previous monitoring missions

October/November 1988: World Heritage Centre mission; 1993: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission; 1994: IUCN mission; 2000: World Heritage Centre mission; 2007: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission to Guinea; 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission to Côte d’Ivoire; 2013: Joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a)  Mining;

b)  Influx of refugees;

c)  Agricultural encroachment;

d)  Deforestation;

e)  Poaching;

f)  Weak management capacity;

g)  Lack of resources;

h)  Lack of trans-boundary cooperation.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/155/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 13 November 2012 and 28 January 2013, state of conservation reports of the property were submitted by the States Parties of Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire respectively.

A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission took place from 25 February to 5 March 2013.  The mission report will be available online at the following Internet address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/37/COM/.  The mission noted that pressure on the property had continued to increase since the last reactive missions in 2007 and 2008, but also noted progress in the implementation of the corrective measures.

a)  Mining exploration permits and ongoing environmental and social impact studies (EIES)

The mission noted that the mining activities have evolved slightly since the last reactive missions of 2007 and 2008. In addition to prospection work of the Ore Mining Company of Guinea (SMFG) in the enclave created in 1993, new iron prospection work has begun in the southern periphery of the property, initiated by the Western Africa Exploitation (WAE). The mission was informed that the original boundary of the WAE overlapped the property but was rectified following marking up, so that all the activities of this company are now conducted outside the property, but on its boundary. The mission was concerned regarding the cumulative efforts of these exploration activities, close and concurrent and their correlative effects  linked to the construction and exploitation work, if it is undertaken at a later date.  The mission also evoked with the companies the impacts of their colateral activities linked (1) to the treatment at site of extracted materials and (2) their transport by rail to a seaboard port, as envisaged; these activities could cause important disruption, including noise that in the context of proximity to the Park, also constitute a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and degradation of its ecological integrity.

To date, only exploration work is in progress at the two sites, in accordance with modalities that do not appear to greatly affect the environment. The mission has also been informed of the two companies current environmental and social impact studies (EIES). With regard to the SMFG permit, preliminary studies are almost completed and a first EIES report could be available by the end of 2013.  The consultant responsible for the EIES provided the mission with a few initial results of the work. So far, the first results of the climate models indicate a limited climatic impact outside of the extraction zone, while the ecological inventories indicate the importance to the population of viviparous toads, endemic species of the Mont Nimba massif, of certain sectors of the mining periphery. The mission also notes that the savanna zone where the WAE exploration work is concentrated, although located outside of the property but at its immediate boundary, plays a role in the diversity, functioning and general balance of the ecosystem of Mont Nimba. The mission considers that in view of this proximity, the implementation of the two projects would have an impact on the integrity of the part of the property located between the two permits. The conclusions of the current EIES should enable a closer examination and clarification of these issues. The mission report includes specific recommendations on the pursuit of the EIES.

The mission was informed that the Guinea State Party had attributed a third permit for nickel exploration in the north-eastern periphery of the property. The mission notes that the boundary of this permit overlaps the property, but that for the time being no exploration activitiy is being carried out within the property. The mission considered that as for the WAE permit, the State Party must urgently modify the exploration authorization decision and exclude the part of the property located in the boundary for the zone of mining activities.

The State Party confirmed to the mission that the permit attributed to the Tata Company in Côte d’Ivoire had been cancelled and that a new permit had been attributed further away from the property. However, the mission considered that clarifications should be requested from the State Party regarding the localization of this new permit.

b)  State of conservation of the property and implementation of the corrective measures

The mission noted that the threats identified by the 2007 and 2008 missions remained current. These threats have worsened in the Ivorian part due to the period of political crisis experienced by the country leading to the evacuation of the agents of the Ivorian Parks and Reserves Authority (OIPR) away from the area for several years. In particular, it noted a clearing of 500 ha to 800 ha, more than 10% of the Reserve area, located in the Côte d’Ivoire, for cocao farming. The mission also noted the gradual ecological isolation of the property linked to the rapid degradation of the forest canopy at its periphery, the buffer zones and the transition to the Biosphere Reserve, as well as in the two other central zones and in the listed Tiapleu Forest in Côte d’Ivoire. This deforestation is linked to increasing demographical pressure, consecutive of the crisis in the Côte d’Ivoire and also the presence of mining explorations in Guinea. The mission notes that this pressure will probably continue to increase in the future if mining exploitation begins.

The mission noted important progress in the implementation of some of the corrective measures.  With the publication in 2010 of the Decree concerning the updating of listing and management provisions for areas of the Mont Nimba Biosphere Reserve, the legal status of the property is now clarified as regards Guinea law.  In Guinea, geo-referencing work and the marking of the boundaries are underway and should be completed before the end of the year 2013. This is also the case in the Côte d’Ivoire where an effort for the marking of the boundaries has also been carried out but wrongly excluding the parts recently illegally cleared. The mission considered that this error in marking should be corrected on the ground without delay. With support from the UNDP/GEF project, the capacities of the Guinean Office of Biological Diversity and Protected Areas (OGUIDAP) on the ground and notably means for surveillance have been strengthened. The surveillance agents now enjoy a paramilitary status that strengthens their executive power.  However, the management capacity of the OGUIDAP still remains very limited and is greatly dependent on the technical and financial support of the project; and the surveillance agents are still too few in number to effectively control the threats.  In Côte d’Ivoire the OIPR has now reclaimed the territory of the property and its infrastructure destroyed during the conflict has been restored with support from the Rapid Response Funds. However, OIPR does not yet ensure a permanent surveillance from the bases at Kouhan Hule and Yeale.  Without authorization to carry arms they cannot carry out their duties under normal conditions and in safety.  They also lack equipment and an operating budget.

Efforts have been undertaken to establish an ecological monitoring system within the UNDP/GEF project in Guinea, but this does not cover the Ivorian part, nor appears to consider several important elements of the OUV, such as high altitude savannas and water courses.

A simplified three-year management plan was adopted in 2012 for the Ivorian part of the property; its implementation is hypothetical due to lack of funding. For the Guinean part, no management plan is available but a drafting committee was set up under the UNDP/GEF project. No progress was made for the establishment of a sustainable funding mechanism. The property has no buffer zone in Côte d’Ivoire, and that of the Biosphere Reserve created in Guinea is totally inoperable.  The mission noted that the state of conservation of the peripheral zone has continued to deteriorate since the last missions, due in general, to the increase of anthropic pressure. The recommendation of the 2008 mission to establish a more limited buffer zone, with a legal protection status, was not implemented.  However, the important work of participatory mapping of the area was carried out with the local communities; this work could assist in the setting up of such an area with the particiption of the populations, notably with the communal forestry reserves.

c)  Trans-boundary cooperation

Dialogue for the establishment of trans-boundary management of the Mont Nimba Massif between Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia has recommenced since the end of the Ivorian crisis. A fourth trilateral workshop was organized in December 2012. This procedure should lead to the signature of a “Tripartite Agreement for the trans-boundary management of the Mont Nimba”, and enable the definition of a common work plan.  A draft statement was prepared but to date there seems to lack a political commitment to enable its signature. The mission recommended not to await the conclusion of this procedure to begin technical cooperation between OGUIDAP and OIPR and that joint surveillance operations and the establishment of an ecological monitoring system be organized.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN conclude that the OUV that motivated the inscription of the property is still present but it remains threatened by increasing anthropic pressures, notably uncontrolled fires, poaching, destruction of habitats in the periphery of the property, the extension of agricultural and forestry practices on the boundary and inside the property. They therefore recommend maintaining the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the attribution of two new mining permits near and/or overlapping the property. They consider that the cumulative impacts of these different permits are a threat to the integrity of the property. The current EIES should indicate the degree of these impacts and conclude on clear recommendations for the preservation of the OUV of the property.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the noticeable progress accomplished in the implementation of some corrective measures by the two States Parties, but consider that an important effort is still necessary to achieve the restoration of the integrity of the property for the long-term conservation of the OUV for which it was inscribed on the World Heritage List. They recommend that the World Heritage Committee adopt the corrective measures proposed by the mission and contained in the draft decision below. They note that the UNDP/GEF biodiversity conservation programme for Mont Nimba provided support to the results obtained and recommend that a second phase of the programme be undertaken and extended to the Ivorian part of the property to assist the two States Parties to implement these corrective measures.

Finally, in the absence of data on the current state of the biological values of the property that would enable the definition of appropriate indicators, the mission was unable to define the Desired State of Conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. These value indicators should be defined as soon as an operational system for ecological monitoring of the state and tendencies of evolution of the property is established.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7A.3

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7A.3 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Takes note of the conclusion of the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission that the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property is still present but that it remains threatened by increasing anthropogenic pressures, notably uncontrolled fires, poaching, destruction of habitats on the periphery of the property, extension of agricultural and forestry practices on the boundaries and inside the property;

4.  Notes with concern the granting of two new mining exploration permits near and/or overlapping the Guinean part of the property with cumulative impacts that could threaten the integrity of the property and urges the Guinea State Party to review the boundaries of the nickel exploration permits for the SAMA Resources Company to exclude the zone inside the property;

5.  Requests the two States Parties that no new mining exploration or exploitation permits located around the property be granted without a Strategic Environmental Impact Study (EIES) be carried out to assess the impacts, including cumulative of these projects;

6.  Recalls its request to the two States Parties that:

a)  the EIES of the mining projects located in the mining enclave or the immediate boundary of the property be carried out in accordance with the highest international standards and in close consultation with all the stakeholders,

b)  these EIES must qualify and quantify the potential impacts of these projects on the OUV of the project, at each stage of their cycle, including the construction and exploitation, taking into account their cumulative and collateral impacts linked to the treatment at site of the minerals and their transport, as well as socio-economic changes to be expected,

c)  these EIES should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation by IUCN prior to any decision based on their conclusions and recommendations, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

7.  Warmly welcomes the slight progress accomplished in the implementation of some of the corrective measures by the two States Parties, but also takes note of the conclusion of the reactive monitoring mission of 2013 that there remains an important effort to be made to achieve the restoration of the integrity of the property and conserve the OUV over the long term;

8.  Also requests the two States Parties to implement the corrective measures as updated by the 2013 mission, notably:

a)  Finalize the geo-referencing of the Park boundaries, correct and concretize these boundaries on the ground and submit a precise map to the World Heritage Committee at its next session,

b)  Restore the integrity of the cleared parts of the property, notably by the suppression of illegally planted crops with the ecological restoration of the degraded areas,

c)  Reinforce the management capacity of the Guinean Office for Biological Diversity and Protected Areas (OGUIDAP) and the Ivorian Parks and Reserves Authority (OIPR), notably by providing them with a operating budget for the site, increasing the number of surveillance staff, their capacities, their presence on the ground and technical resources, notably in transportation and arms and amunition,

d)  Create a buffer zone around the property in collaboration with local communities to enable an effective conservation of the OUV of the property, resorting to the establishment of communal forests,

e)  Strengthen actions to benefit local communities, promoting socio-economic activities compatible with the preservation of the OUV of the property, preferably in the outlying areas further away from the boundaries,

f)   Establish a harmonized ecological monitoring mechanism between OGUIDAP and OIPR in the two parts of the property,

g)  Finalize and implement the management plans of the two parts of the property located in both countries and prepare a master plan establishing a general vision of the management of the whole property, that will serve for the local, public and private donors, including the mining companies, an action plan for conservation of the property and the sustainable socio-economic development of its periphery, to strengthen the visibility of the property and its OUV,

h)  Organize joint surveillance operations between OGUIDAP and OIPR throughout the property,

i)   Establish a permanent funding mechanism for conservation of the property and the sustainable socio-economic development of its periphery;

9.  Recommends that a second phase of the UNDP/GEF programme for the conservation of biological diversity of Mont Nimba be developed, extended to the Ivorian part of the property to assist the two States Parties in the full implementation of these corrective measures;

10.  Commends the States Parties of Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia for the efforts undertaken to implement a trans-boundary cooperation for the Mont Nimba Massif and encourages them to formalize this cooperation by a signature of the prepared framework agreement in the near future;

11.   Notes that in the absence of data on the current state of the biological values of the property that would enable the definition of appropriate indicators, the mission was not in a position to define the Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and further requests the States Parties, with support from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, to develop it as soon as an operational ecological monitoring mechanism of the state and tendencies of evolution of the property is established;

12.   Requests furthermore the two States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and the progress accomplished in the implementation of the corrective measures and other recommendations of the 2013 mission, as well as on progress in the environmental and social impact studies linked to mining exploitation, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014;

13.   Decides to retain the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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: