State of Conservation (SOC)
Virunga National Park (1995)
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
Virunga National Park, inscribed under criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv) in 1979, was included on the List of World Heritage in Danger at the last session of the World Heritage Committee in December 1994, due to the tragic events in Rwanda and the subsequent massive influx of refugees from that country. Virunga National Park, situated on the border between Rwanda and Uganda, has been destabilized by the uncontrolled arrival of refugees, causing deforestation and poaching at the site. The Bureau recalled that the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee approved a total of US$ 50,000 emergency assistance for both Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Virunga National Park. The project is carried out in cooperation with IUCN, WWF and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme. A report on the project was received at the time of the Bureau session indicating the World Heritage Fund project was effective and crucial to help in maintaining the Park's management activities and to support the staff. However, the ecological situation at the Park is not improving, the bamboo forests have been cut and the number of elephants and hippos within the site are much reduced. The buffalo population is also threatened. The report indicated that the Park is a primary source of fuelwood and construction materials for the refugees and that 30 to 40,000 people are entering the Park daily.
The Bureau discussed the situation at length and recommended several actions to be taken, including letters to the Government of Zaire for greater operational support and the payment of salaries of the staff of the site. No response on these letters has been received so far. On 8 August 1995, the Centre received information that six Italian citizens were killed by poachers in Virunga National Park. The Centre wrote to the authorities to request that the World Heritage Committee be informed about any action to be undertaken to stop illegal poaching operations within the site and to improve control in the Park.
Analysis and Conclusion
Taking into account the presence of thousands of refugees, the Bureau expresses its concern about the degradation of the Park and recommends to the Committee to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Link to the decision
VII. 10 Virunga National Park (Zaire)
The Committee recalled that Virunga National Park was included on the List of World Heritage in Danger at the last session of the World Heritage Committee in December 1994, due to the tragic events in Rwanda and the subsequent massive influx of refugees from that country. It noted that the site is seriously threatened by the uncontrolled arrival of refugees, causing deforestation and poaching at the site.
The Committee took note of the reports provided both by the Secretariat and IUCN, as well as the responses received by the Ministry for the Environment of Zaire on the concerns raised by the Bureau at its nineteenth session. The Committee also took note that the European Union, the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) and UNHCR are currently carrying out projects mainly to strengthen the management of the site.
The Committee, taking into account the presence of thousands of refugees in and adjacent to Virunga, expressed its serious concerns about the continuing degradation of the Park and decided to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requested the Centre to support the work of IGCP and other organizations and asked both the Centre and IUCN to continue to liaise with various donors and agencies. It requested the Centre to organize a mission to the site and asked that a report be provided to the twentieth session of the World Heritage Bureau.
The Bureau recommends the Committee to examine the information contained in the working document and the oral report provided by the Secretariat/advisory body. The Bureau recommends the Committee to adopt the following:
"The Committee, taking into account the presence of thousands of refugees in and adjacent to Virunga, expresses its serious concerns about the continuing degradation of the Park and decided to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requested the Centre to support the work of IGCP and other organizations and asked both the Centre and IUCN continue to liaise with various donors and agencies. It requested the Centre to consider organizing a mission to the site and asked that a report be provided to the twentieth session of the World Heritage Bureau."
Democratic Republic of the Congo
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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”).