State of Conservation (SOC)
Virunga National Park
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
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Ap proved: 238,560USD
|2000||Emergency assistance to World Natural Heritage of the democratic ...||26,400 USD|
|1999||Support to Resident Staff of Garamba, Virunga, Kahuzi Biega ...||35,000 USD|
|1996||Request for Technical Assistance for Virunga National Park, World ...||0 USD|
|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|
April 1996: WHC/IUCN/WWF mission
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
At its twenty-fourth ordinary session (June 26 - July 1, 2000, Paris), the Bureau reviewed a summary report of an intermediary mission to DRC, including to the war-impacted eastern parts of the country, and to the capital cities of neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, both of which are implicated in the war in eastern DRC, and made four specific recommendations for action (see pages 7-8 of the document WHC-2000/CONF.204/4). In response, the Centre has implemented the following measures:
(1) The Director of the Centre wrote to the Chief of the UNOMC formally transmitting the memorandum submitted to the Chief of UNOMC by the UNESCO World Heritage mission team. The Office of the Chief of UNOMC in New York, via a letter dated 26 September 2000, has assured the Director of the Centre that within the constraints of its mandate and available resources, UNOMC will assist UNESCO, ICCN and their partners to conserve the World Heritage sites in the DRC. Such assistance could be in the form of transport of personnel and equipment and materials destined for the sites. However, the Chief of UNOMC has observed that in the long-term, conservation of the five World Heritage sites in the DRC will essentially depend on the progress achieved to implement the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement and other pertinent Security Council resolutions concerning the DRC;
(2) The Centre has recruited a consultant, from 10 September 2000 for a period of 3 months, for setting up a co-ordination unit for the execution of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project in Nairobi, Kenya. A co-ordinator for the project is expected to be recruited before the end of 2000. On the basis of the recommendations of ICCN, Kinshasa, and other project partners, namely WWF, IRF, GTZ-Germany, GIC and WCS, the Chief of the Garamba National Park, currently working with WWF-Nairobi, will serve as the "ICCN Homologue" in the co-ordination unit. The contract with the "ICCN Homologue" is being finalised and his services to the project co-ordination unit will begin in October 2000;
(3) The Centre is currently in the process of negotiating a meeting of technical personnel representing the three different governance regimes within the territory of the DRC to be convened from 30 October to 1 November in Nairobi, Kenya. The consultant and the "ICCN Homologue" referred to in (1) and (2) above, and the leader of the two-person team that undertook the intermediary mission to DRC, Rwanda and Uganda from 8 May to 11 June, will facilitate the organisation and conduct of that meeting; and
(4) The possible composition and timing of the proposed high-level mission to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda is likely to be one of the subjects of discussions during a luncheon meeting between the Director-General of UNESCO and the Executive Director of UNEP, scheduled for 28 September 2000. The meeting participants have been briefed of the desirability of UNESCO and UNEP Heads leading such a high-level mission to the capitals of the three countries implicated in the war in eastern DRC to meet with the Heads of States and other important personalities and draw their attention to the need to respect international law and strengthen conservation of the all World Heritage sites in the area, and particularly those in eastern DRC.
As suggested by the Delegate of Zimbabwe at the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau, the Centre has given priority to initiate, under the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project, those actions that directly benefit the sites. Contracts with project partners for payment of salaries, performance related bonuses and medical and food rations to site staff are nearing finalisation and implementation is expected to commence in October 2000. In this regard, the benefits to each site for the first year of project execution are as follows:
· 348 persons in Virunga will receive a total sum of US$ 175,392;
· 236 persons in Garamba will receive a sum of US$ 118,944;
· 83 persons in Kahuzi Biega will be paid a total sum of US$ 41,832;
· 56 persons will be paid a total sum of US$ 28,224; and
· 150 persons from Salonga will be paid a sum of US$ 75,600.
These sums for all five sites were estimated on the basis of a standardized rate of US$ 42/month/person, comprising a basic salary of US$ 30/guard and US$ 26/labourer and additional amounts of US$ 12/guard and US$ 16/labourer to cover performance related bonuses and medical and food rations. The project partners who will be responsible for transfer of payments from UNESCO to the site staff are: WWF Office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya for Virunga; IRF Office in Nairobi, Kenya for Garamba; Gilman International Conservation for Okapi; and GTZ-Germany projects responsible for Kahuzi Biega and Salonga. The UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project has set aside funds for the continuation of such payments to site-staff over the next three years; i.e. until October 2004. At the same time, project partners continue to support financing the positions of some of the other senior staff, as they have done in the past, in the respective sites for which they have assumed responsibilities.
The US$ 21,000 of the US$ 48,000 approved as emergency assistance by the Chairperson in April 2000, and earmarked for the payment of pensions for 70 persons at the rate of US$ 300 per person employed in the Virunga National Park has been decentralised to the UNESCO Office in Nairobi, Kenya for execution in co-operation with the WWF Eastern Africa Programme Office in Nairobi.
The Committee may wish to recall the fact that UNF and UNFIP approved, in November 1999, a sum of US$ 2,895,912 of the total cost of US$ 4,180,600 and urged the Centre and its partners to raise the additional funds from other sources. The Centre, in co-operation with its partners including ICCN, Kinshasa, elaborated a project to support local communities resident in and around the five World Heritage sites in Danger in the DRC. The 4-year project estimated to cost a sum of US$ 500,000 has attracted the interest of the Belgium Government’s Cabinet for Development Co-operation. The UNESCO Bureau for Extrabudgetary Resources is currently in the process of finalising negotiations. The Centre and the Division of Ecological Sciences of UNESCO and the project partners are also in contact with other donors such as the European Union to raise the remaining funds to arrive at the total estimated cost of US$ 4,180,600 in order to implement the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project in its totality.
In Kahuzi-Biega, guard training sessions in monitoring and a refresher course in paramilitary techniques, with the objective of increasing the guard surveillance capacity to 10% of the National Park area that is regularly accessible have been conducted. Two patrol posts were reoccupied by staff in May 2000 but had to be evacuated a month later as the posts were attacked by armed gangs on two occasions causing the guards to retreat. Nevertheless, guards continue to patrol accessible areas on a regular basis. During August/September 2000, a team comprising Park staff, local authorities and representatives of several government services carried out work on marking the Park’s borders in the corridor area linking the highland and lowland sectors. Some 50 soldiers accompanied the team. On 5 September the team’s camp was attacked by a large force of rebels from the Liberation Army of Rwanda. eleven people were killed; many were injured including some who were seriously wounded. None of the staff from the Park or local offices of the ICCN were seriously injured. five people were taken hostage but were later released unharmed. However, the group’s equipment was taken by the rebels and has not been returned.
In mid-June 2000, some security measures were put in place and allowed a team to start inventory work in the highland sector of the Park in order to obtain a better view of the numbers of gorillas and elephants remaining in the area. It will enhance the capacities of the Park staff since the newly constituted Park monitoring team is taking part in the work. When the work is finished, the inventory project will hand over most of the equipment used to the Park team, in order for it to continue the monitoring programme. The scientific organization and a large part of the budget for this inventory are being provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF) and Born Free. The GTZ-Germany project for Kahuzi Biega has provided vehicles, tents, radios and other equipment.
In Salonga, a report on a 1998-survey on bonobos and other large mammals has been received by IUCN. The survey data showed that bonobo, bongo, black mangabey, and leopard were present at that time in reasonable numbers in the northern part of the Park. Some elephants were also present, although in much reduced numbers. However, it is not clear how the unrest in the DRC has affected the bonobo population and other large mammals. This factor and the significance of the Park for bonobo conservation call for further, detailed evaluations. The report concludes that poaching within the Park is increasing due to human encroachment.
In the case of Okapi Faunal Reserve as well as the Garamba National Park, partners concerned with the protection of the site, namely the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Okapi and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) in Garamba, respectively, have detected increased poaching of elephants which appear to be supported by certain sections of the armed forces of Uganda. Both WCS and IRF have written to the Honourable Minister of State, Foreign Affairs and Regional Co-operation of Uganda requesting his intervention to investigate the matter and urging him to ensure that the Ugandan forces do not in any way aid elephant poachers and wherever possible they support and strengthen local officials working to conserve World Heritage sites in eastern DRC. WCS and IRF have transmitted copies of their letters to the Honourable Minister of Uganda to the Centre for transmission to the attention of the Permanent Delegate for Uganda in UNESCO for verification and necessary action.
In Virunga, the situation remains unchanged from that reported at the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau in June/July 2000.
The Director General of ICCN, Kinshasa, via his letters of 29 August and 15 September 2000 has acknowledged receipt of the observations, conclusions and recommendations of the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau and thanked the Bureau for its appreciation of the work of the site staff and continuing support for the conservation of the five sites.
Analysis and Conclusion
Link to the decision
VIII.6 World Heritage sites of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
The Committee noted detailed information on the state of conservation of the five sites in the DRC, i.e. Virunga, Garamba and Kahuzi Biega and Salonga National Parks and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, reported from pages 2 to 5 of the document WHC-2000/CONF.204/9. Furthermore, the Committee noted the following additional information reported by the Centre:
(1) In addition to the UNOMC, contacts have been established with members of a UN Panel conducting a Probe on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in DRC and located at the UN complex in Nairobi, Kenya. Information on the state of conservation of the five sites will be regularly transmitted to the UN Panel mentioned above for appropriate action;
(2) A Co-ordination Unit for the UNESCO/DRC/UNFUNFIP Project has been operational in Nairobi, Kenya since 10 September 2000, assisted by the services of a consultant and an "ICCN Homologue" seconded by ICCN, Kinshasa. Recruitment of a Project Co-ordinator had been delayed but is likely to finalized before the end of the first quarter of 2001;
(3) A meeting of technical personnel representing the three different governance regimes within the territory of the DRC was convened from 8 to 10 November 2000 in Nairobi, Kenya. The three technical personnel have signed a formal agreement of co-operation that will facilitate the monitoring of the state of conservation of the sites, execution of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project, information and material exchange between sites and the organization and conduct of joint activities involving staff from the five sites. Furthermore, the three authorities have also agreed to co-ordinate together movements and career development options for ICCN personnel, despite prevailing administrative and political barriers to such coordination;
(4) Following a meeting on 28 September 2000, the Director-General of UNESCO and the Executive Director of UNEP expressed an interest to lead a high-level mission to the capitals of the three countries (i.e. Kinshasa, Kigali and Kampala) implicated in the war in eastern DRC to meet with the Heads of States and other important personalities and draw their attention to the need to respect international law and strengthen conservation of the all World Heritage sites in the area, and particularly those in eastern DRC. The possibility of fielding such a mission will be further pursued by the Centre in co-operation with relevant partners of UNESCO under the framework of activities for executing the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project. The three technical authorities located in the three different regions of DRC (see point 3 above) have committed to facilitate such a high-level diplomatic mission to the fullest extent possible, if and when it is fielded.
IUCN underlined the significance and the timeliness of the financial support provided by the UN Foundation to support the work of site personnel and commended the dedication and commitment of the site staff to protect the sites.
The Committee noted with satisfaction that the Centre has established contracts with project partners for payment of salaries, performance related bonuses and medical and food rations to site staff in all of the five World Heritage sites and transfer of funds to benefit site staff are about to begin soon. The UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project has set aside funds for the continuation of such payments to site staff over a period of four years; i.e. until October 2004. The Committee also noted with appreciation the support of the Government of Belgium for a project focusing on providing support to local communities in and around the five sites to enable them to contribute towards their protection. The Government of Belgium is expected to provide a sum of US$ 500,000 for the four-year project that is expected to begin in early 2001.
The Centre, based on information received from partners of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project and a variety of other sources, informed the Committee that the state of conservation in Garamba and Virunga National Parks was relatively good. In Okapi, recent assistance from military authorities in the region had enabled staff of the Wildlife Reserve to disarm poaching gangs and improve conservation prospects. Salonga, though outside of the war zone and still accessible to ICCN-Kinshasa, is significantly threatened by illegal poaching. The situation in Kahuzi Biega is the most disconcerting, as staff do not have access to nearly 90% of the Park's surface area.
The Committee requested the Centre to further develop its relations and explore optimal ways of liaising with UNOMC and other appropriate bodies, like the UN Panel undertaking a Probe on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in DRC, in order to promote the links between peace-building and World Heritage conservation in DRC and in neighbouring countries. The Committee recommended that the Centre, in co-operation with ICCN and other partners, ensure effective execution of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project emphasizing and prioritizing project components that strengthen the work of site staff. The Committee urged the Centre to work with relevant administrative and support units of UNESCO to find ways and means to ensure rapid and effective transfer of funds via project partners to on-site beneficiaries who are attempting to protect World Heritage sites in a zone of high security risks. The Committee thanked and welcomed the interest of the Government of Belgium to support a project that would enable local communities to work with site staff to support conservation of the five sites, and urged UNESCO and the Centre to expedite finalisation of negotiations with Belgium to enable early transfer of assistance to local communities resident near the five sites. The Committee decided that all five sites be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger.
"The Committee requests the Centre to further develop its relations and explore optimal ways of liaising with UNOMC in order to promote the links between peace-building and World Heritage conservation in DRC and in neighbouring countries. The Committee recommends that the Centre, in co-operation with ICCN and other partners ensure effective execution of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project emphasising and prioritising project components that strengthen the work of site-staff. The Committee urges the Centre to work with relevant administrative and support units of UNESCO to find ways and means to ensure rapid and effective transfer of funds via project partners to on-site beneficiaries who are attempting to protect World Heritage sites in a zone of high security risks. The Committee thanks and welcomes the interest of the Government of Belgium to support a project that would enable local communities to work with site-staff to support conservation of the five sites and urges UNESCO and the Centre to expedite finalisation of negotiations with Belgium to enable early transfer of assistance to local communities resident near the five sites. The Committee decides that all five sites be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger."
Virunga National Park
- Civil unrest
- Financial resources
- Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
- Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
- Illegal activities
- Land conversion
Inscription on the Danger List
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”).