1.         Comoé National Park (Côte d'Ivoire) (N 227)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1983

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   2003-present

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

Corrective measures identified

The following corrective measures were identified during the 2006 World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring mission and adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006):

a) Establish, as a matter of urgency, an effective system of control and patrolling for the whole property, in close collaboration with the armed forces, and giving priority to the development and rehabilitation of necessary infrastructures;

b) Develop and initiate the implementation of a management plan for the property based on the management plan framework developed for the national system of protected areas. The management plan should give special attention to:

(i) Establishing a revised zoning system for the property to guide management activities that fully consider the status of the property as a World Heritage property and Biosphere Reserve;

(ii) Establishing participatory management arrangements with local communities to reduce pressures and impacts associated to the management of areas in particular on the periphery of the property;

c) Enlarge the activities of the management structure to encompass the entire property.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

a) Five year timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures:

b) 2007: Preparatory work and developing contacts for technical and financial support, as well as implementation of emergency measures linked in particular to surveillance of the property;

c) 2008-2009: Preparation of a management plan and implementation of priority activities;

d) 2009-2011: Implementation and monitoring of activities under the management plan. 

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/227/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1988-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 97,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/227/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 20,000 in 2006 through the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme for law enforcement and awareness activities. Rapid Response Facility: USD 30,000 for an intervention mission in the park in 2010.

Previous monitoring missions

June 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/227/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 1 February 2011, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. Additional documents were annexed or submitted alongside this report including; i) the terms of reference for the development of a management plan for the property; ii) a copy of Law n° 2002-102 on the creation, management and financing of national parks and nature reserves; iii) the actual and projected budgets for the property (2010-2013); and iv) a report on the results of the March 2010 aerial wildlife survey undertaken by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) and OIPR (Office Ivoirien des Parcs et Réserves), with support from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

The State Party report notes the progress achieved in implementing the corrective measures adopted by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006). The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the implementation of these measures is supported by the World Bank/ Global Environment Faciltiy (GEF) protected areas project for Côte d’Ivoire called PARC-CI (Projet d’Appui à la Relance de la Conservation des Parcs et Réserves - USD 2.54 million, 2010-2014). The State Party reports that this project was put on hold following the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, which has considerably slowed down the implementation of the corrective measures, and also pushed back the timeframe for their implementation.

a) Establish, as a matter of urgency, an effective system of control and patrolling for the whole property, in close collaboration with the armed forces, and giving priority to the development and rehabilitation of necessary infrastructures

The State Party reports that 70 rangers are deployed within the property and notes that the level of staffing has increased considerably since 2007. The State Party notes that a new surveillance strategy has been developed, which foresees a progressive expansion of surveillance based on the available resources, stationing patrolling units in a central location from which two sector stations will be manned on a rotational basis. All 5 sectors will be patrolled from the two aforementioned localities. The State Party notes that in parallel to the above surveillance strategy, it is providing 200 million CFA (approximately 431,871 USD) to an emergency action plan to reduce poaching by deploying mixed patrols composed of both OIPR patrol units and members of the Forces Nouvelles (armed forces): to date 35 OIPR rangers and 22 members of the Forces Nouvelles have been trained and equipped to combat poaching. This initiative was supported by Fauna and Flora International (FFI), IUCN and the World Heritage Centre through the Rapid Response Mechanism. Eight four-wheel drive vehicles and 10 motorbikes have been acquired to support law enforcement activities. 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the efforts to develop a surveillance strategy and emergency action plan to address poaching, which unfortunately were not submitted with the report, but note that as a result of the political crisis, only a few mixed ranger patrols have been deployed resulting in little effective control and patrolling of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that given the dramatic decline in wildlife populations (see below) the establishment of an effective system of control and patrolling for the whole property is a priority to rehabilitate the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

 

b) Develop and initiate the implementation of a management plan for the property based on the management plan framework developed for the national system of protected areas

The State Party reports that a draft management plan is under preparation and will be finalized by a consultant. A 3-year priority action plan will be developed on the basis of the management plan. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome progress in the development of the management plan Terms of Reference and recall that the Committee requested the State Party to establish a revised zoning system for the property that fully considers the status of the property as a World Heritage property and Biosphere Reserve, and to establish participatory management arrangements with local communities.

c) Enlarge the activities of the management structure to encompass the entire property

As noted above under point a), the State Party reports that it intends to progressively extend patrolling within the entire Park and regain control of the area. However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN are concerned that the recent deterioration in political and security situation in Côte d’Ivoire has further slowed down the implementation of this corrective measure.

d) Results of the March 2010 aerial wildlife survey

The State Party submitted a report on the results of the March 2010 aerial wildlife survey undertaken by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and OIPR, with support from GIZ, and notes that additional aerial and terrestrial surveys may be undertaken in 2011. The March 2010 survey covered Comoé National Park and the surrounding zone and shows that large mammals have decreased by 80% over the last 30 years. The density of large mammals within the property is very low. No elephants or lions were observed, and only two elephant tracks were noted during the survey. The survey estimated that 8,800 hartebeest, 900 buffalo and 950 cobs remain, with 90% of their populations located within the property. IUCN notes that the late 1970’s estimates for these species were about 13,000 hartebeest, 5,000 buffalo and 50,000 cobs while its elephant population was estimated at 1,500 in 1978.

With regards to human activities within the park, the survey found that 90% of all the mammals within the property are domestic animals and that high levels of cattle grazing are seriously degrading the property’s ecosystem. The survey noted that cattle grazing are concentrated in the north and east of the park, that agricultural encroachment is widespread in the west, and that bushfires are concentrated within a central band running north-south through the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that an earlier survey by WCF in June 2009 (which did not make population estimates due to its small sample size) had found that populations of large mammals were still present in the south-west of the property and the adjacent zone, including chimpanzees and elephants, thus confirming their presence within the property. The March 2010 survey report concludes that based on the available data there is a high risk that the elephant and chimpanzee populations of the property are now too small to be viable, and that these are likely to disappear from the park unless urgent action is taken.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are gravely concerned by the results of the March 2010 aerial survey which clearly demonstrates that the OUV of the property is severely and increasingly degraded and, if existing threats and pressures continue, may soon be lost. They are particularly concerned by the fact that some species like elephant might be on the verge of extinction in the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN concur with the survey’s conclusion that there is still some potential for the recovery of wildlife populations within the property if urgent action is taken, and consider that the clear priority is to i) immediately restore the integrity of the property by removing grazing cattle and addressing agricultural encroachment, and ii) rapidly implement an effective surveillance system for the property in order to slow the intensification of cattle grazing, agricultural encroachment, poaching and bushfires. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the State Party and its conservation partners adopt all the recommendations made by the March 2010 wildlife aerial survey report and consider that the survey results should be used as a baseline to monitor the recovery of the property’s wildlife populations over time.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that at the time of preparation of this report, political instability was still affecting Côte d’Ivoire. It is therefore likely that the status of the property might have further degraded and that the implementation of corrective measures might be impacted.

e) Mining

Concerning previous reports on the granting of mineral exploration licences, the State Party notes that any geological exploration within the property would be aimed at evaluating the property’s potential mineral resources, and considers that this does not constitute intent to mine. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the 2008 State Party report had indicated that three mining exploration licenses had been granted covering part of the property, and that the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 33 COM 7A.2 urged the State Party to withdraw these licenses, in line with the Committee’s clear position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status. It notes that at the 34th session, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire stated that no mining exploration licences existed in the property and that this had been an error in previous reports. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that since the beginning of the political crisis in the country in 2002, there has been almost no management or surveillance of Comoé National Park, which has lead to the intensification of illegal activities within its boundaries, including poaching and encroachment by cattle and agriculture. The results of the March 2010 aerial survey show that Comoé National Park has lost an estimated 80% of its large mammals in the last three decades and that its ecosystem has been seriously affected by the conversion of large areas to cattle grazing and agriculture. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN conclude that the OUV of the property, both the values that justified its inscription under criteria (xi) and (x) and its integrity, is seriously compromised. However, they consider that there is still potential for the recovery of the property’s wildlife and ecosystems if urgent action is taken, and consider the immediate restoration of the property’s integrity and the implementation of an effective surveillance system should be prioritized by the State Party, in collaboration with its conservation partners including GEF/World Bank, WCF, GIZ, FFI, IUCN and others. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also recommend that the Committee amend the corrective measures in line with the above in order to reflect the priority actions that are needed to conserve and restore the property’s OUV. They further recommend that the Committee maintain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger until its integrity is restored, an effective management structure is in place and the recovery of the property’s key wildlife populations is demonstrated.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7A.2

The World Heritage Committee,

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

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

3. Notes with concern the continuing  political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, which has lead to the further intensification of illegal activities within Comoé National Park since 2002, including poaching and encroachment by cattle and agriculture;

4. Acknowledges the efforts made by the State Party and its conservation partners to reinforce the surveillance of the property, to develop a management plan, and to undertake a survey of the property's wildlife, but notes that as a result of the political crisis, only a few mixed ranger patrols have been deployed, resulting in little effective control and patrolling of the property;

5. Expresses its utmost concern about the results of the 2010 survey which show that the property has lost an estimated 80% of its large mammals in the last three decades and that its ecosystem has been seriously affected by the conversion of large areas to cattle grazing and agriculture, which demonstrates that the property's Outstanding Universal Value is seriously compromised, but that there remains potential for the recovery of the property's wildlife and ecosystems if urgent action is taken;

6. Decides to amend the corrective measures in line with the above in order to reflect the priority actions that are needed to conserve and restore the property's Outstanding Universal Value, and therefore adopts the following additional corrective measure:

Restore, as a matter of urgency, the integrity of the property by removing cattle and addressing agricultural encroachment;

7. Urges the State Party to implement the revised corrective measures adopted by the Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011);

8. Encourages the State Party's conservation partners, including Global Environment Faciltiy (GEF)/World Bank, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), IUCN and others, to continue their support for the property;

9. Requests the State Party to confirm officially that no mining exploration licenses covering the property have been granted;

10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the revised corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

11. Decides to retain Comoé National Park (Côte d'Ivoire) 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: