On 19 January 2012, the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. At the time of preparation of this document, no report had been received from the State Party of Guinea. On 25 April, the World Heritage Centre also received from the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR) a copy of the report of the third tri-national workshop on the management of Mount Nimba Massif, which was held from 6 to 7 December 2011 in Man, Côte d’Ivoire, and a copy of the Management Plan of Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve.
For the portion of the property located in Côte d'Ivoire:
The state of conservation report submitted by Côte d’Ivoire indicates progress in the implementation of corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session, for the portion of the property located in Côte d'Ivoire. The report notes that the consequences of successive crises have led to the destruction of equipment and infrastructures of the Reserve, and a decrease in the budget for its conservation. The crisis situation has also caused the withdrawal of many development partners, making it difficult to mobilize funds for the rehabilitation of the property.
a) Restore the presence of the authority responsible for the protected area - the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR) - on the site and resume management activities, restore cooperation mechanisms and strengthen communication with local communities
The report of the State Party indicates that the unit of management of protected areas of the West Zone was able to reoccupy the headquarters of the West Zone in Man. The head of the sector of Mount Nimba Reserve was also redeployed to Danané with six agents to perform the field activities. But access to the Reserve is still limited due to lack of logistic facilities, which were looted during the successive crises. The State Party also points out that the premises designated for office use and the existing guard posts must be rehabilitated because of their advanced state of deterioration. It is planned to train a mobile monitoring and anti-poaching brigade composed of thirty officers, which will be based in Man, and which will ensure a minimum of management activities. In the context of the participatory management of the property, the establishment of a local management committee for Mount Nimba Reserve is also envisaged. This committee will be a legal framework for consultation between OIPR and the different stakeholders, including local communities and international NGOs.
In January 2012, the property received USD 25,282 under the Rapid Response Facility for the reestablishment of the guard posts at Kouan-Houlé and Yéalé, the closest bases to the Mount Nimba site. Man and Danané are located far from the Reserve and there is urgent need to ensure an effective presence in that area of the property.
b) Conduct a study on key wildlife species to clarify the status of Outstanding Universal Value of the property and implement a comprehensive monitoring programme to monitor and control threats, including poaching
The report of the State Party indicates that the OIPR plans to conduct studies on key wildlife species and habitat conservation.
c) Define a buffer zone in consultation with local partners, and provide it with the appropriate legal status to strengthen the conservation of the property through sustainable management of natural resources in the buffer zone
The report of the State Party does not mention any actions taken to establish a buffer zone in collaboration with local stakeholders.
d) Develop a Management Plan, in close cooperation with all partners concerned, notably with the local community, and harmonize this plan with the plan being established in Guinea
The State Party notes that the third tri-national workshop on the management of Mount Nimba Massif between Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia took place in Man in Côte d’Ivoire from 5 to 7 December 2011, with support from the World Heritage Fund. This workshop was organized on the occasion of the establishment of joint management between the three countries. The meeting adopted the Declaration of Man on the Tripartite Management of Mount Nimba, in which the managing authorities of the three components of the massif commit to establishing a tri-national mechanism for monitoring actions to be taken for the sustainable conservation of the massif, and to submitting a draft framework agreement to their respective governments. This agreement will enable the creation of a yearly concertation framework as well as a technical committee. Article 4 of this agreement provides for the development and implementation of a trans-boundary Management Plan for Mount Nimba. This Management Plan will be followed by the establishment of a tripartite legal framework for the property and its zones of influence. The report notes that the meeting also adopted the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve Simplified Management Plan developed by the OIPR for the portion of the property located in Côte d'Ivoire.
e) Develop a sustainable funding mechanism for the entire property with the State Party of Guinea
In 2003, in the framework of the establishment of a sustainable funding mechanism for the property, the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire set up the Parks and Reserves Foundation whose main tasks are to facilitate the long-term financing of the conservation of national parks and nature reserves by mobilizing funds and investing these funds in a trust fund in perpetuity. During the tripartite workshop in Man, the Guinean State expressed its readiness to contribute to the establishment of a sustainable funding mechanism for the entire property.
For the portion of the property located in Guinea:
As mentioned above, no report was received from the State Party of Guinea. It is therefore not possible to assess the implementation of corrective measures that were adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session for the portion of the property located in Guinea.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are nevertheless informed that the managing authority of the property, the CEGENS, and the Directorate of Protected Areas of Guinea have been merged since 2011 in view of the establishment of a new structure to be called the Guinean Office for Biodiversity and Protected Areas (OGUIDAP). This new structure will aim to reinforce human and operational capacities of Mount Nimba. The OGUIDAP is also considered a paramilitary structure, which will help strengthen the technical capacity of its personnel especially in the fight against poaching. A recruitment process of agents, followed by military training, began in January 2012. Most of these agents are selected from local communities in the vicinity of the protected areas, such as Mount Nimba.
The World Heritage Centre received a letter dated 16 January 2012 from the Iron Ore Mining Company of Guinea (SMFG), in response to comments from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on the proposed draft Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), which had been transmitted in 2011. In their comments, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN had, among other issues, highlighted the fact that the project should be halted if the ESIA concluded that the negative impacts could not be mitigated.
In its letter, the SMFG indicates that it is prepared to apply the precautionary principle as defined by the United Nations, in the absence of scientific certainty about the impacts of mining on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and that it plans to abandon the mining project if the environmental impact study reveals serious threats to the OUV of the property. The letter provides detailed responses to each comment and a revised version of the TOR in which these comments were taken into account. The letter noted that the TOR were approved by the Ministry of Environment of Guinea in October 2010 and that a consultant responsible for conducting the ESIA has been recruited. The SMFG believes that the ESIA will be finalized during 2013.
The report of the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire noted that no mining concession has been granted in the Ivorian portion of the property, although mining exploration ambitions were expressed some time ago. The State Party further recalls the Tata Steel Company’s waiver of the mining exploration project for the property, following discussions between IUCN, the World Heritage Centre and the Director of the Tata Steel Global Minerals Group.
In Liberia, there is an Arcelor Mittal project located 20 kms from the property. Until now, the State Party of Liberia has not submitted the ESIA for this project. Pollution from mining exploration on the Liberian side could cause the discharge of silt into the rivers towards the Côte d’Ivoire and have negative effects on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.