1.         Simien National Park (Ethiopia) (N 9)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1996-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1978-1996)
Total amount approved: USD 233,171
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 1996: technical mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1997

At its last session (Merida, 1996), the Committee took note of the report of the technical mission to the site, (2-9  November 1996), which identified the deterioration of the Walia ibex population, loss of biodiversity, encroachment at the borders of the site and impacts of the construction of a road through the Park, and IUCN's position that all the requirements for Simen's inclusion in the List of World Heritage in Danger, as stipulated in Paragraph 79 of the Operational Guidelines, were met. Hence, the Committee decided to include Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Head of the Bureau of Agriculture of the Bahir Dar Region, Dr. Belay Demissie, via his letter of 24 March 1997 to the Centre, has transmitted his Regional Government's disagreement with the Committee's decision to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Dr. Demissie has drawn the Centre's attention to the fact that although Simen was neglected during the past regime, currently Simen receives high attention and effective protection; the Central and the Regional Governments are implementing a rehabilitation programme to restore the Park's infrastructure to its previous state. Dr. Demissie notes the 'increment in the number of Walia Ibex as a result of proper protection of the Park'. Furthermore, he has indicated that the Regional Authorities do not accept the statement in page 24 of the report of the technical mission to Simen, undertaken in November, 1996; i.e. "A majority of participants endorsed the recommendation that Simen Mountain National Park should be listed as world heritage site in danger". According to Dr. Demissie, this statement reflected the view of the consultants.

Since they do not concur with the Committee's decision to list Simen as a 'World Heritage in Danger', the Regional Authorities in Bahir Dar have decided not to convene the technical workshop, originally scheduled for 10-18 April, 1997, and for which the Committee approved a sum of US$ 30,000 at its last session (Merida, 1996). They have called upon the Central Government of Ethiopia to cooperate with concerned national and regional institutions to organize a discussion forum with UNESCO in order to revert the decision taken by the Committee. In their view the technical workshop, which was to be held in April, 1997, was intended as a forum for increasing awareness among stakeholders and international donors of the need to prepare and launch a multi-component sustainable conservation and development programme, and not for planning rehabilitation actions for a Simen because of its new status as 'World Heritage in Danger'.

At the time of the preparation of this document, the Centre, in cooperation with IUCN, is  communicating with the Ethiopian authorities, including the Regional Authorities in Bahir Dar, in order to clarify the conflicting views on the status of Walia Ibex populations, as reported by the technical mission of November 1996 and by Dr. Demissie. The Centre is also seeking more information on the programme for rehabilitation of Park infrastructure which, according to Dr.Demissie, is being implemented by the Central and Regional Governments for Simen National Park.

Action Required

The Bureau, in the light of additional information that may be available at the time of its meeting, may consider the disagreement voiced by the Regional authorities in Bahir Dar with the Committee's decision to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger, and propose specific actions which the Centre could take to resolve this matter before the twenty-first session of the Committee (December, 1997).

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1997

The Committee, at its last session (Merida, 1996), included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger, on the basis of the findings of a technical mission to the site and IUCN reports, and approved a sum of US$ 30,000 for a meeting with stakeholders and donors, scheduled to be held in April 1997. The Bureau, at its twenty-first session in June 1997, learnt that the Regional Authorities in Bahir Dar, where Simien National Park is located, had disagreed with the Committee's decision to declare Simien as a World Heritage site in Danger; hence, they had indefinitely postponed the meeting of the stakeholders and donors and called upon the Central Government authorities in Addis Ababa to organise a discussion forum with UNESCO with a view to reversing the Committee's decision. The Bureau acknowledged the possibility that the views of the Regional Government in Bahir Dar may not have been accurately reflected when the Committee decided to include Simien National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. As requested by the Bureau, the Centre discussed the matter with the Ambassador of Ethiopia to France and the Permanent Delegate of Ethiopia to UNESCO, His Excellency, Mr. Mulugeta Eteffa, and sought his assistance in encouraging the Ethiopian authorities to view the Committee's decision in a positive light and to proceed with the convening of the meeting of the stakeholders and donors. Ambassador Eteffa was in agreement with the fact that the Committee's decision must be viewed positively, and had agreed to discuss the matter with relevant authorities during his visit to Ethiopia during September-October 1997.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The Committee may wish to review new information that may be available at the time of its session and decide whether or not Simien National Park needs to be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 21 BUR IV.A.6

The Bureau recalled that the Committee at its last session noted the report of the technical mission to the site, (2-9 November 1996), which identified the deterioration of the Walia ibex population, loss of biodiversity, encroachment at the borders of the site and impacts of the construction of a road through the Park, and, as stipulated in Paragraph 79 of the Operational Guidelines, included Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Bureau was informed that the Head of the Bureau of Agriculture of the Bahir Dar Region, where Simen National Park is located, informed the Centre of his Regional Government's disagreement with the Committee's decision to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger. He drew the Centre's attention to the fact that although Simen was neglected in the past, currently Simen receives high attention and effective protection. The number of Walia Ibex has increased as a result of proper protection of the Park and the Central and the Regional Governments are implementing a rehabilitation programme to restore the Park's infrastructure to its previous state. Furthermore, he indicated that the Regional Authorities do not accept the statement in the report of the technical mission to Simen, undertaken in November, 1996: i.e. "A majority of participants endorsed the recommendation that Simen Mountain National Park should be listed as World Heritage site in Danger". Following the Committee's decision to include Simen National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the Regional Authorities in Bahir Dar have decided not to convene the technical workshop, originally scheduled for 10-18 April, 1997, and for which the Committee approved a sum of US$ 30,000 at its last session. They have called upon the Central Government of Ethiopia to co-operate with concerned national and regional institutions to organize a discussion forum with UNESCO in order to reverse the decision taken by the Committee.

The Bureau noted that a mission to Simen National Park had been undertaken by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) from 10 to 25 April 1997 and that a buffer zone development project for the site is under consideration.

The Bureau acknowledged the possibility that the views of the Regional Government in Bahir Dar may not have been accurately reflected when the Committee decided to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Nevertheless, the Bureau called upon the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar to view the Committee's decision in a positive light and to proceed with convening the stakeholders meeting. The Bureau in particular requested the Director of the Centre to meet with the Permanent Delegate of Ethiopia to UNESCO to resolve the problem and to explain the Committee's decision. Furthermore, the Bureau recommended that the Centre and IUCN take actions to assist the Ethiopian authorities to convene the stakeholder's meeting and to submit a report to the twenty-first session of the Committee in December 1997 so as to enable the Committee to review Simen National Park's status as a World Heritage site in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 21 COM VII.B.16/18

VII.16 Simen National Park (Ethiopia)

The Committee recalled that at its last session (Merida, 1996), it included this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger, on the basis of the findings of a technical mission to the site and IUCN reports, and approved a sum of US$ 30,000 for a meeting with stakeholders and donors, scheduled to be held in April 1997. The Bureau, at its twenty-first session in June 1997, learnt that the Regional Authorities in Bahr Dar, where Simen National Park is located, had disagreed with the Committee's decision to declare Simen as a World Heritage site in Danger; hence, they had indefinitely postponed the meeting of the stakeholders and donors and called upon the Central Government authorities in Addis Ababa to organise a discussion forum with UNESCO with a view to reversing the Committee's decision.

 The Centre discussed the matter with the Ambassador of Ethiopia to France and the Permanent Delegate of Ethiopia to UNESCO, and sought his assistance in encouraging the Ethiopian authorities to view the Committee's decision in a positive light and to proceed with the convening of the meeting of the stakeholders and donors. The Permanent Delegate was in agreement with the fact that the Committee's decision must be viewed positively, and had agreed to discuss the matter with relevant authorities during his visit to Ethiopia during September-October 1997. No written information was received by the Centre, the Permanent Delegate however informed Centre staff orally that there had been no change in the views of the Regional Government in Bahr Dar to date.

In the absence of any further information, the Committee decided to retain Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger and urged the Centre to continue to pursue its efforts to resolve this deadlock.