On 31 January 2011, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the Central African Republic (CAR). This summary report outlines the measures taken by the State Party, from an institutional and technical perspective, to implement corrective measures that were adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009).
In its Decisions 33 COM 7A.1 and 34 COM 7A.1, the Committee requested the State Party to organize a workshop with all stakeholders to develop a short-term emergency plan for a priority area of reduced size, to restore the integrity of the property. This workshop, planned for September 2010, unfortunately could not be held before the 35th session of the Committee. A letter was sent to the State Party to encourage it to submit a request for international assistance for this purpose.
In addition, the high-level meeting requested by the Committee could not be organized because of the concurrence of presidential and legislative elections.
a) Restructuring of the management of the park for a simple and efficient organization specifically dedicated to the park
The State Party provides information that the management strategy for protected areas in the north-east, including the property, was validated in 2010. This strategy proposes a zoning of the property defining a central core surrounded by Village Hunting Zones (VHZ), the implantation of advanced surveillance bases, a development plan for the entire north-east territory including the redefinition of transhumance corridors, the increased size of the team monitoring the property and VHZ peripheries.
b) Strengthening of supervisory staff to ensure the main management missions (planning, surveillance, ecological monitoring, adminstration, logistics)
The State Party has not provided any new information concerning the strengthening of supervisory staff. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that a technical assistant of the Central African Armed Forces (CAAF) was appointed in spring 2009 and assigned to conservation teams.
c) Increasing the number and training of ground staff essentially devoted to surveillance ensuring this transition period, strengthened at the outstart by support from armed forces
The State Party notes that several missions by Central African Armed Forces (CAAF) elements were carried out in the area in support of the supervisor trackers for the programme for the Conservation and Rational Use of the Forest Ecosystems of Central Africa (ECOFAC) - VHZ, but no further details are reported. Since 2009, 60 Water and Forestry agents were planned to be appointed to north-east protected areas, in addition to the 60 ECOFAC supervisor trackers already in place, but IUCN notes that these agents have still not been appointed to the north-east, or within the property. The report does not mention whether these agents will be specifically assigned to the Manovo-Gounda National Park (MGNP) as requested by the Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.
d) Functional zoning of the park with a priority intervention zone to conserve to the maximum the components determining the Outstanding Universal Value of the park (environment and fauna)
The State Party notes that the map draft of the park including the new configuration of the property has been produced and validated. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the management strategy for the north-east protected areas proposes a zoning of the property with a core area surrounded by a belt of VHZ. Unfortunately the report does not include the zoning map, and it is therefore difficult to assess its impact on the protection status of the property.
e) Implementation of an action plan targeting restoration of security in this priority zone
The State Party recalls that the Ministry of National Defence has provided military equipment to conservation teams of the northern protected areas every year since 2007, but does not report new information concerning the implementation of a plan focused on restoring security in the property. The State Party considers that the support of international institutions in the implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process, and the holding of elections are significant elements in bringing security to the northern region where the property is located.
f) Allocation of a provisional budget for these priorities, limited to the most necessary, to already engage in this phase a reflection on sustainable management;
The State Party does not report any new information concerning the allocation of a provisional suitable budget. It appears that a budget is not yet defined.
g) Implementation of a plan to emerge from the crisis, through concertation with the different protagonists, in particular from Chad and Sudan.
The State Party recalls that trans-border actions taking into account all issues related to natural resource conservation and the development of local communities are planned under the Regional Indicative Programme of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), however no details on the type of activities are provided. The report notes that the Central African-Chad Joint Committees will meet in 2011 to discuss transborder issues.
h) Other current conservation issues - petroleum prospecting within the property
IUCN notes that since January 2011 a Chinese oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is located at Gordil (one of the bases of the Park). It is possible that petroleum prospecting is being conducted inside the property, accompanied by poaching-related activities. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that this type of activity will only accelerate the deterioration of the Outstanding Universal Valueof the property and its wildlife, already greatly reduced. They recall that several years ago the Committee adopted a clear position on mining and petroleum prospectingissues in inscribed properties, deeming them incompatible with World Heritage status.
i) Result of the ECOFAC / MIKE aerial survey mission conducted in early 2010
The report mentions a 2010 ECOFAC inventory in collaboration with the Monitoring the Illegal Killing Elephant (MIKE) programme. This inventory was conducted in north-eastern Central African Republic over nearly 95,000 km2 in an area including Manovo-Gounda-St Floris (MGSF) and Bamingui-Bangoran National Parks, the Vassako-Bollo Strict Nature Reserve, the Aouk-Aouakalé Wildlife Reserve, and the Hunting Areas and Village Hunting Zones. The inventory shows a very serious decline in the concentration of big game. A decline of 90% had already been revealed by a 2005 inventory, and this new inventory indicates a further reduction of 75% of the wildlife compared to the 2005 inventory. After the black rhino, which had already disappeared in 1980, elephant and giraffe have now also completely disappeared from the property and are recorded only in the hunting areas, and therefore outside the property. Most of the other species have also almost disappeared, including buffalo, giant eland, Defassa waterbuck, ostrich, hippopotamus and cheetah. The remaining wildlife is concentrated in the VHZ and southern hunting areas located outside the property.
The inventory also considers it possible that hundreds of thousands of Chadian cattle transit every year in the study zone. The overview also noted the presence of two small-scale diamond mines in the MGSF National Park, along water bodies, and a significant reduction of large wildlife around the mines due to poaching. The report concluded that the countdown to the extinction of wildlife in northern CAR appears to have started and there is very little time to reverse this process. The authors consider that within a period of 2 to 5 years the activity of large-scale hunting will have exhausted the wildlife, accelerating the collapse of the VHZ system - the last pockets of big game conservation - and likely leading to their reconversion to pasture. This will cause the loss of not only the last opportunity to restore the property's outstanding universal value, but also the socio-economic benefits associated with it.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the Eco-Fauna project of the European Union is currently being launched in the vicinity of the property and continues to bolster the VHZ. However, they believe that few results can be expected for the preservation of the property, as the project's strategy is focused primarily on the VHZ rather than on the conservation of the property itself. In addition, the budget seems inadequate in view of the area of intervention to cover (4 million Euros for an area of 100,000 km2).