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

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Corrective measures identified

See Decision34 COM 7A.5 (Brasilia, 2010), http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/34COM/decisions/

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 119,270
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: Conservation Programme for DRC World Heritage properties (DRC Programme) financed by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), Italy and Belgium; (2001-2005): approximately USD 300,000; (2005-2009): USD 300,000; (2010-2012): USD 300,000. Financial support (USD 30,000) in 2008 granted by the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) for the rehabilitation of a control post at Itebéro.

Previous monitoring missions

1996 and 2006: World Heritage Centre Missions; several World Heritage Centre missions in the framework of the DRC Programme. December 2009: IUCN/World Heritage Centre reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Armed conflict, lack of security and political instability;

b) Attribution of mining permits inside the property;

c) Poaching by armed military groups;

d) Encroachment, in particular in the corridor between the highland and lowland sectors;

e) Illegal mining and deforestation.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 24 March 2011 a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party containing information on progress achieved in the implementation of the corrective measures updated at the 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), following the 2009 monitoring mission.

a) Evacuate the armed groups in the property and extend the area of surveillance to the whole property

The State Party reports that following the Amani military operations to neutralise the armed groups operating in the Kivu region, the presence of armed groups in the property has diminished significantly. However, some pockets remain but the report notes that with the assistance of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO), these should be evacuated soon. As a result, the park authorities were able to enlarge the area covered by guard patrols. Following the establishment of a new station Lulingo and the establishment of a presence in the Punia/Kasese, patrols were conducted in these parts of the park, which had been abandoned for almost two decades. Some patrols were also conducted along the main footpaths crossing the lowland part of the park and the boundaries of the park. On the other hand, no patrols have taken place in the Nzovu area, which was abandoned in May 2009, following an attack by the Forces démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR). Several aerial patrols were also conducted.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the progress made by the State Party but consider that these efforts should be increased by extending the area covered by the patrols and the patrol frequency to the lowland sector of the park.

b) Close down all the illegal mining extraction operations in the property and officially cancel all the mining concessions encroaching on the property

The report notes that following a Government decision to suspend all mining activities in the eastern part of the country, all artisanal mining sites inside the property have been closed down. The report contains a map of closed mining sites, mainly in the Itebero, Lulingo, Punia and Katasomwa areas. However the map indicates no closures in other known mining areas. As part of the stabilization effort, new trade posts for minerals will be opened soon, where the origin of the offered minerals will be traced. This should prevent minerals originating from the illegal mining sites in the park from being commercialised. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that if this mechanism is effective, it could address one of the major threats to the integrity of the property.

The park authorities were able to discuss with the Minister of Mines the issue of the mining concessions granted illegally in the property by the Ministry. One concession in the Itebero area could be closed as a result. Further consultations are ongoing with the mining divisions in the three provinces covered by the park. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the closure of the concession in Itebero but reiterate the need to cancel all concession delivered by the mining cadastre, which are overlapping with the property.

c) Evacuate the ecological corridor and initiate measures to restore plant species and connectivity

The report notes that no further progress was made on this issue following a change in the provincial government in May 2010. Discussions are ongoing with the new government. The report further notes the hope that the commitments made by the Prime Minister as part of the Kinshasa Declaration to evacuate all illegal occupants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) properties is expected to give a new impetus to this process. So far, only one farm has been reclaimed by the park. For this area, a rehabilitation plan has been prepared and will be implemented in 2011.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the lack of progress on this important issue especially as the 2009 mission noted the degradation is continuing and already affecting the highland sector of the park, including the slopes of Mount Biega.

d) Develop, in a participatory manner, and implement a zoning plan to resolve the issue of villages in the lowland sector, while maintaining the values and integrity of the property

With support from IUCN, a first study was carried out in June 2010 to look into the different options to address the problem of the villages included in the lowland sector of the park. The study proposes as the best solution, a zoning of the park with the internal relocation of certain villages inside the park, and the establishment of some zones with permanent human occupation, and zones of sustainable use without permanent occupation, inside the property. Seventy five percent of the park would remain strictly protected. Through the proposed zoning, the connectivity between the high altitude and low altitude sectors would be reinstated. The study notes that implementing the proposed zoning will require a long dialogue with the concerned communities. The report includes a proposal for a 5 year action plan to implement the proposal, with an estimated total budget of approximately 6.2 Million USD.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome this first study and acknowledge the complexity of the issue. They stress the need to ensure that any proposed zonation should ensure that the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property can be maintained in the long term. It will therefore be crucial to develop clear arrangements on which activities can be allowed in the proposed sustainable use zones, and to decide how these arrangements will be enforced.

e) Continue the efforts to reactivate surveillance mechanisms, while ensuring control of the whole Park

As mentioned above, with the improving security, park staff has been able to increase the area of the park which has been visited by patrols. However, the report does not present information on the frequency of these patrols. The report also notes that as part of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) reform process, 26 additional guards were allocated to the property. Plans are underway to retire older staff and recruit and train new elements to replace them.

f) Complete and approve the management plan and ensure the means for its implementation

The report notes that the general management plan 2009-2019 was finalized and approved by the Ministry. The annual operational plan is based on the logical framework of the management plan and developped with all the partners working in the park.

g) Inventory of species

The report notes that a new inventory was conducted in the highland sector of the park. The results estimate the gorilla population in this sector between 171 and 181 animals, compared to 168 animals in the 2006 survey. Ten gorilla families continue to be followed on a regular basis. The survey confirmed earlier reports of a small remaining group of elephants in the sector. So far it has not been possible to conduct the survey of the lowland area but with the improving security situation, it is hoped that this can be done in the coming months.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the substantial progress made in evacuating the armed groups from the property, increasing patrol coverage and closing down illegal mining areas. They consider that these are decisive steps towards regaining control over the property and express the hope that necessary security conditions can now be created progressively to enable the managers of the property to progress in the implementation of the corrective measures. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further welcome the creation of an official trading network for minerals in the Kivu region to put in place a tracability of the minerals. They consider that it will be important to put in place proper controll mechanisms to ensure that minerals originating from the property will be blocked through this system, and to prevent the emergence of a parallel market.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN urge the World Heritage Committee to express its concern about the continued lack of progress on the issue of the evacuation of the corridor, as well as on mining permits delivered by the Ministry of Mines. They reiterate the importance of the corridor for the restoration of the integrity of the property. They consider that following the commitments made by the Prime Minister, both issues should be addressed by the Government as a matter of priority. They welcome the study on the zonation of the property as a way to address the problem of the villages included in the lowland sector of the park, but note that it will be difficult to start discussions with the communities on this as long as the illegal occupation of the corridor is not addressed.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the finalisation of the management plan and encourage the State Party to allocate sufficient resources for its full implementation. They re-emphasize the need for an inventory of the lowland sector as soon as possible. Only with reliable data on the populations of key wildlife species will it be possible to assess the actual status of the Outstanding Universal Value and propose the time scale needed for the rehabilitation of the property and a possible removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger. They consider the property should be maintained on the List of World Heritage in Danger and subjected to the Reinforced monitoring mechanism. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7A.35

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7A.32, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Commends the State Party for the organization of the high-level meeting on the Conservation of the World Heritage properties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007);

4. Welcomes the Kinshasa Declaration in which the Prime Minister on behalf of the State Party makes the commitment to implement all the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee to rehabilitate the Outstanding Universal Value of the five World Heritage properties in Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to create the necessary conditions to allow for the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan proposed by the Congolese Park Authority ICCN;

5. Urges the State Party to ensure a full implementation of these commitments, in particular securing the properties, reinforcing the operational capacity of the Congolese Park Authority, reducing commercial poaching, stopping the illicit exploitation of natural resources, strengthening the efforts of peaceful evacuation of illegal occupants of protected areas as well as respecting the requirements of the World Heritage Convention, the national nature conservation law and the mining code;

6. Also urges the State Party to address a number of important threats to properties through a comprehensive approach involving the different relevant Ministries, in particular mining exploration and exploitation concessions attributed by the Ministry of Mines, the oil exploration concession granted by the Ministry for Hydrocarbons in Virunga National Park. The State Party must also address the issue of the illegal settlements in the corridor of Kahuzi-Biega, the relocation of the Nyaleke army training camp in Virunga National Park and the issue of the continued involvement of elements of the Congolese Army in illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the properties;

7. Calls upon the international community to continue its support for the efforts in securing and rehabilitating the World Heritage properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7A.5

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7A.5, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Notes with satisfaction the substantial progress made in evacuating the armed groups from the property, increasing patrol coverage and closing down illegal mining areas;

4. Expresses its hope that necessary security conditions can now be progressively created to enable the managers of the property to progress in the implementation of the corrective measures;

5. Welcomes the approval of the general management plan and the June 2010 study to assess the different options to address the problem of the villages included in the lowland sector of the park;

6. Notes with concern that no progress was made in the resolution of the illegal occupation of the corridor and the granting of mining concessions, and urges the State Party to address these issues in line with the commitments made by the Prime Minister in the Kinshasa Declaration;

7. Requests the State Party to continue to implement the corrective measures as updated by the joint World Heritage Centre/ IUCN reactive monitoring mission in 2009, to rehabilitate the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

8. Reiterates its request that the State Party conduct as soon as possible an inventory of species retained as indicators for the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, to determine the current state of the biodiversity in the property and to establish the base reference to enable monitoring of the restoration of these values and establish a timeline for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including an update on the state of mining concessions granted in the property, progress achieved in the resolution of illegal occupation of the corridor, as well as progress in the accomplishment of the corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

10. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced monitoring mechanism;

11. Also decides to retain Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-11/35.COM/7A, WHC-11/35.COM/7A.Add and WHC-11/35.COM/7A.Add.Corr),

2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: