On 24 March 2011, the State Party submitted a concise report on the state of conservation of the property, providing limited information on progress achieved in the implementation of the corrective measures, but with little new information compared to previous reports:
a) Organization and implementation of a large-scale combined anti-poaching operation involving the management authority (ICCN) and the Congolese Army Forces (FARDC) in the most threatened areas;
The State Party recalls that a mobile intervention unit was set up by the park management authority ICCN in July 2009, composed of 25 park rangers selected on the basis of their integrity and efficiency. This unit received specialized training in 2010 and is fully operational. Surveillance activities, patrol rations and guard bonuses continue being covered through a European Union funded project. Twenty former poachers from the four local communities were also integrated into the park ranger staff.
The report further notes that at the end of 2010, a joint mission was organized to the property by the FARDC and the National Police to evaluate the security situation and investigate the problem of poaching in the property. According to the report, this will result in increased cooperation with FARDC and the police to address the poaching problem. The report further notes that 7 notorious poachers, who had been apprehended by the park authorities, were condemned and imprisoned after a court case, which also raised awareness of this issue amongst the local communities.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the report provides no information on the large-scale security operation intended to combat armed poaching, which was announced in 2009. However, the World Heritage Centre received the final report on the grant provided by the World Heritage Fund, requested at the 34th session. Non-spent funds were returned to the Fund. The report confirms that this security operation has not been undertaken yet because of lack of consultation at the site level. The funds have been used to prepare an anti-poaching strategy and road map, training of ICCN staff, purchase of equipment and organization of awareness raising campaigns. The proposed road map to combat poaching inside the property has received support from local communities and regional governors, but has not yet been implemented due to lack of funding.
b) Creation of a permanent consultation mechanism between the provincial political, administrative and military authorities of the four provinces covered by the property in order to address in a coordinated manner, the elimination of illegal activities, specifically large-scale poaching, in the Park;
The report notes that the Conference of Governors, a tripartite monitoring structure, which was established in 2008 between the four concerned provincial authorities, the army and the protected area agency ICCN to monitor and assess the anti-poaching plan, still exists but needs to be re-vitalized. A new meeting of the Conference is foreseen in the first half of 2011. The report notes that the protected area authority continues to maintain bilateral contacts which each of the Governors. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN reiterate the need to ensure close cooperation between the provincial political, administrative and military authorities of the four provinces in order to combat illegal extractions of the natural resources, in particular poaching.
c) Implement the recently-developed anti-poaching strategy
The State Party report notes that the training programme for the park guards, developed in partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), enabled the training of 60 guards. The training was conducted by three IFAW instructors and two instructors from the army. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the report again provides no information on the implementation of the anti-poaching strategy, which was developed in 2007.
d) Initiate a process to resolve the conflict concerning the use of Park resources through a participatory approach
As mentioned in last years report, the State Party notes that work on the participatory delimitation and demarcation activities is continuing and that the process to establish participatory structures with local communities is underway. The report notes that discussions are underway to relocate some communities living inside the property on a voluntary basis but that funds need to be identified to cover re-installation costs.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that no information has been provided on the content of the agreements being negotiated between the park and local communities, as was requested in Decision 34 COM 7A.7.
e) Develop and implement a strategy to minimize and mitigate the impact of villages in the Park
The State Party reiterates the information included in the previous report that the strategy has been developed and integrated into the 2009-2011 triennial strategic plan for the property. While funding is lacking for its implementation, the implementation of the strategy is planned anyway through the new project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Regional Protected Area Network (RAPAC).
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the strategy has not been submitted to the World Heritage Centre, in spite of the specific request in Decision 34 COM 7A.7.
f) Link the two sectors of the property in the framework of a management plan for the property
The report notes that the preparation of the General Management Plan is well advanced and should be finalized by the end of the first semester of 2011. The General Management Plan foresees the creation of a corridor in consultation with the local communities. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that no information is provided on the results of the consultations with the local communities, the preliminary studies, or the detailed feasibility study which were mentioned in the 2009 and 2010 State Party report.
g) Establish a special fund for the rehabilitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) World Heritage properties
Work on the development of a trust fund for the DRC protected areas is ongoing: the characteristics of the Fund have been developed by a technical group of experts and have been discussed with relevant stakeholders in January 2011 with a facilitator. The report reviews the options under DRC laws to set up a foundation but confirms that it is preferable to set up the Fund in the United Kingdom. It was further decided to focus the objective of the foundation on funding "operational protected areas that are prioritized by the national conservation strategy". The World Heritage properties correspond to these criteria. The final report will be reviewed by the Steering Committee in May 2011 to endorse the final report, as well as a work plan and budget for the next 12 months. It is planned that the Foundation will be set up by June 2012.