1.         Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 137)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1997-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-1995)
Total amount approved: USD 93,870
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

At its last session, the Committee requested the Centre to undertake, in co-operation with the State Party, a high level mission to be led by the Chairperson of the Committee. The Committee, furthermore, approved a sum of US$ 45,000 for the purchase of two four-wheel drive vehicles to benefit the management of two of the four above-mentioned sites.

The Director General of UNESCO, via his letter dated 6 February 1998 to the President of DRC has invited the President to consider receiving a high-level UNESCO mission to discuss threats facing the four sites referred to above and plan rehabilitation measures. A reply to the Director General's letter is awaited.

In view of the above and due to the security situation in the country, the Committee’s request could not be implemented.

The purchase and transfer of the two four-wheel drive vehicles using the US$ 45,000 approved by the Committee at its last session is being effected in co-operation with the Office of the German bilateral agency, i.e. GTZ, in Kigali.

During December 1997, and in early 1998, the Centre and IUCN were informed by UNHCR that it was withdrawing its staff working in projects dealing with environmental rehabilitation of Kahuzi Biega and Virunga. UNHCR also froze funds available for certain environmental rehabilitation projects in and around World Heritage sites and which were earmarked for disbursement through international NGO’s like the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). Nevertheless, several NGO’s are maintaining a presence in the sites and a high level delegation from WWF, including its Director General met with officials in Kinshasa in February 1998. The Centre and IUCN continue to maintain contact and co-operate with international conservation NGOs to the extent possible in order to monitor the state of conservation of the four sites included in the List of World Heritage in Danger and assist in their rehabilitation.

Action Required

The Bureau, based on additional information that may be available at the time of the twenty-second session of the Bureau, may recommend appropriate actions for the conservation of each of the four sites above to the consideration of the State Party and/or the Committee as well as the Centre and IUCN.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Committee had declared these four sites as World Heritage in Danger, during 1994-1997, when war and civil strife ravaged the country. At the time of its twenty-second ordinary session (June 1998), the Bureau was of the view that the security situation in the country may be improving. Hence, it encouraged the Centre to continue its efforts, in co-operation with international conservation NGOs, to ensure the purchase and safe delivery of one four-wheel drive vehicle to each of the four sites, in accordance with the decision of the Committee made at its last session (Naples, 1997). Nevertheless, the Bureau recommended that the Committee retain these four sites in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Since the conclusion of the twenty-second ordinary session of the Bureau in June 1998 however, the law and order situation in the country has unfortunately deteriorated once again, and renewed fighting has spread to all parts of the country. A strategic planning workshop for the conservation and management of Garamba National Park, which was to be held in Kinshasa in August 1998 under the auspices of WWF had to be indefinitely postponed. However, information received by IUCN seem to indicate that there has been no significant increase in poaching in Garamba. Nevertheless, frequency of rhino sightings have dropped and numbers of several large herbivores remain below their 1995 levels.

In the case of Okapi Faunal Reserve, some of the Park equipment donated by international conservation NGOs have been looted, one Park building occupied by armed groups and staff who were in the process of reviving conservation activities evacuated. In Kahuzi Biega WWF Project staff were withdrawn due to worsening security conditions in the area and the Tshibanga Station has been looted. In Virunga human encroachment has been detected along Lake Edouard, and poaching, which intensified with the resurgence of armed conflict in July-August, seems to have been brought under some control. Park guards no longer carry any weapons, and require military escort to patrol the Park and have not been paid their salaries for nearly two years. “Motivational.allowances” paid to guards in the southern sector of Virunga by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) had been stopped as the donor, i.e. UNHCR, withdrew its support to the scheme. IGCP and the national conservation authority (i.e. ICCN) have prepared a strategic action plan and are seeking funds for Park personnel. IGCP has agreed to distribute any financial support received to all sectors of the Virunga National Park. IUCN has recommended that the Committee consider providing emergency assistance to pay some allowances to the staff at Virunga.

The vehicles purchased for Garamba and Kahuzi Biega National Parks could not be transported beyond Nairobi, Kenya, due to lack of security. The Centre has been informed by WWF that the two vehicles destined for Garamba and Kahuzi Biega, which are currently in Nairobi, will cost the Fund additional customs clearance and storage charges. The Centre is in contact with WWF and the UNDP Resident Representative Offices in Kenya and with the Kenyan Government to find ways and means to exempt these two vehicles from storage and other customs charges. IUCN has requested that the Centre does not proceed with the delivery of vehicles to the sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo until such time when security conditions improve.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 22 BUR V.A.4

Virunga National Park, Garamba National Park, Kahuzi Biega National Park, Okapi Faunal Reserve

The Bureau recalled that the four sites under consideration were declared as World Heritage in Danger by the Committee, during the years between 1994 and 1997, when the country had been affected by war and civil strife. The Bureau after reviewing the report of the Secretariat, based on the reports received through IUCN and other international NGO partners, decided to:

(i) reiterate the Committee’s concerns for the conservation and management of the four sites and recommended that the Committee retain all four sites in the List of World Heritage in Danger; the Bureau however noted that the political situation in the country was stabilising and that the impact of the war-period on some wildlife populations, such as the rhino population in the Garamba National Park, has been less severe than previously expected;

(ii) request the Secretariat to work with the Permanent Delegation of the State Party to UNESCO regarding the letter sent by the Centre describing the Committee’s recommendations, including the fielding of a high level UNESCO mission to be headed by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, made at its last session in Naples, by drawing attention to those recommendations during a meeting between the Permanent Delegation and the UNESCO Secretariat, scheduled for 25 June 1998, in order to obtain formal responses;

(iii) urge the Centre and IUCN to continue co-operation with NGOs like WWF and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) to monitor the state of conservation of the sites and ensure that the two vehicles purchased for Garamba and Kahuzi Biega National Parks, using US$ 45,000 approved by the Committee in Naples, are safely delivered to the sites as soon as possible;

(iv) request the Chairperson of the Committee to authorise the Centre, subject to the receipt of evidence of the safe transfer and delivery of one vehicle each to Garamba and Kahuzi Biega, to use an additional US$ 45,000 for the purchase, transfer and delivery of one vehicle each for Virunga and Okapi in accordance with the recommendation made by the Committee at its last session; and

(v) decided to consider replenishing the emergency assistance allocation of US$ 500,000 approved by the Committee for 1998 during its last session in Naples, and which had been already exhausted, during its discussions on international assistance requests (Agenda item 8), so that additional requests submitted by the Democratic Republic of Congo for undertaking scientific studies, in co-operation with international NGOs, to evaluate the impacts of the war on selected indicator species in Kahuzi Biega National Park, could be considered for support by the Chairperson of the Committee.

Decision Adopted: 22 COM VII.4/12

VII.4 World Heritage sites of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):

Virunga National Park

Garamba National Park

Kahuzi Biega National Park

Okapi Faunal Reserve

The Committee had declared these four sites as World Heritage in Danger, during 1994-1997, as war and civil strife have ravaged the country. The Committee noted that the Bureau, at its twentysecond ordinary session (June 1998), had been of the view that the security situation in the country may be improving. Hence, the Bureau had encouraged the Centre to continue its efforts, in co-operation with international conservation NGOs, to ensure the purchase and safe delivery of one four-wheel drive vehicle to each of the four sites, in accordance with the decision of the Committee made at its last session (Naples, 1997).

Since June 1998 however, the law and order situation in the country has unfortunately deteriorated once again, and renewed fighting has spread to all parts of the country. A strategic planning workshop for the conservation and management of Garamba National Park, which was to be held in Kinshasa in August 1998 under the auspices of WWF had to be indefinitely postponed. Frequency of rhino sightings in Garamba have dropped and numbers of several large herbivores remain below their 1995 population levels. In the Okapi Faunal Reserve, equipment donated by international conservation NGOs has been looted and staff who were in the process of reviving conservation activities evacuated. In Kahuzi Biega, WWF Project staff was withdrawn due to worsening security conditions in the area and the Tshibanga Station has been looted. In Virunga human encroachment has been detected along Lake Edouard. Park guards no longer carry any weapons, and require military escort to patrol the Park and have not been paid their salaries for nearly two years. "Motivation .allowances" paid to guards in the southern sector of Virunga by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) had been stopped as the donor, i.e. UNHCR, withdrew its support to the scheme. IGCP and the national conservation authority, Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) have prepared a strategic action plan and are seeking funds for Park personnel. IGCP has agreed to distribute any financial support received to all sectors of the Virunga National Park. IUCN suggested that the Committee consider providing emergency assistance to pay some allowances to the staff at Virunga.

The Committee noted with concern that the vehicles purchased for Garamba and Kahuzi Biega National Parks could not be transported beyond Nairobi, Kenya, due to lack of security. The Committee requested the Centre to co-operate with WWF, UNDP and the Kenyan Government authorities to ensure the safety of these two vehicles so that they could be delivered to Garamba and Kahuzi-Biega whenever the situation in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo returned to normal. IUCN informed the Committee that the territories in which the four sites are located are controlled by rebel forces and that it is unlikely that missions to any one of the four sites will be feasible in the near future.

The Committee decided to retain all four sites in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee requested the Centre to freeze all activities related to the purchase and delivery of vehicles to any one of the four sites until such time as security conditions improve. The Committee asked the Centre and IUCN to consult with IGCP and ICCN, to estimate the cost of paying allowances to staff at Virunga National Park as an interim measure and submit a proposal for emergency assistance for the consideration of the twenty-third session of the Bureau in 1999. Furthermore, the Committee suggested that the Centre and IUCN communicate the Committee's concerns for the state of conservation of these four sites to international and national NGOs working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These NGOs should be encouraged to disseminate information about the Committee's concerns among the general public as well as specific target groups such as the military.