1.         Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania) (N 156)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1981

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/156/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1989-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 59,500
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/156/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Potential impacts of a hydro-electric project in Kenya;

b) Poaching;

c) Reduced and degraded water resources;

d) Potential impact of optical cables’ installation.

e) Proposed road crossing the northern part of the Property 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/156/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 2 February 2011, the State Party submitted a detailed report on the state of conservation of Serengeti National Park. From 29 November to 8 December 2010, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission was organized to the property in accordance with Decision 34 COM 7B.5. The mission looked at the implications of the proposed North Road, which would bisect the northern part of the Serengeti, on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property as well as other conservation and management issues affecting the property. The mission report is available online at: http:/whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM.

a) Plans to build a North Road through the property

The mission noted that there is a large consensus in the scientific community that the road will adversely affect the wildebeest migration and could endanger the ecosystems and wildlife populations of the park. The mission considers that the road will also impact the aesthetic values and wilderness character and increase the management and conservation challenges of the property.

The mission considered that the possible mitigation measures which were presented, including the option of not paving the stretch through the property, are clearly insufficient to mitigate possible negative impact of the proposed North Road alignment on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The mission further noted that no cost-benefit analysis of the road project seems to have been conducted, taking into account the importance of tourism for the local, national and regional economy. The mission also expressed concern that the national legislation and regulations for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) have not been fully implemented and that only limited stakeholder consultation took place regarding its environmental and social impacts.

Based on the findings of the mission and the well documented potential threats of the road, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the proposed road will clearly affect the OUV of the property. They further consider that given the very likely impact on the OUV and its potential negative economic impacts in terms of a decline in tourism, the precautionary principle should be applied to the decision-making on this issue, and that the proposed alignment through the northern part of the property should not be supported.They consider that alternative alignments to the proposed North Road, including the southern route and upgrading of existing roads to the district capitals of Mugumu and Loliondo, which would not entail crossing through the north of the property, should be carefully considered.

The State Party report notes that the EIA for the road has been completed and is open for review. However, at the time of writing of this report, the World Heritage Centre has not yet received a copy of the report. The EIA report is however available on an NGO website (www.savetheserengeti.org). The EIA report predicts very heavy traffic loads once the road is built of up to 3,000 vehicles a day by 2035, equivalent to 1 vehicle every 15 seconds in 2030 (based on the assumption of day traffic only). The EIA confirms that the road will lead to important and significant negative impacts including a disruption of the migration which could lead to the loss of the unique value of Serengeti, threats to endangered species, pressure on the conservation areas including Serengeti and Ngorongoro, increased road kills, habitat loss, and increased pressure from invasive species. The report specifically notes that “...changes in the migration patterns and the naturalness of Serengeti will lead it to be de-classified as a World Heritage site.” In spite of this, the mitigation plan foresees only one measure to mitigate the loss of the unique value of Serengeti, namely “increased research on the migration”. The report mentions the southern route as a potential alternative, but this alternative is not reviewed as it is considered outside thes scope of the study. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the EIA clearly demonstrates that the proposed road project will have a significant negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and does not propose any effective mitigation action. Therefore, the proposed alignment should not be approved in the light of the commitments taken by the State Party under the Convention.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recommend a comprehensive Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SEA) of the development of the northern Tanzania road network be commissioned to better understand the environmental, economic and social implications of all the possible alternatives, including the southern alignment which is not considered in the EIA. They note potential donor support has been offered to the State Party to undertake such an approach.

b) Other conservation issues

The State Party reports on a number of other conservation issues, which were also reviewed by the mission.

Both the State Party report and the mission point out that poaching pressure has been increasing sharply over the last 3 years, in particular elephant poaching. In addition, one of the recently reintroduced black rhinos was poached in December 2010. The mission was informed that anti-poaching efforts are hampered by resource constraints and as a result of other competing demands and noted that there is a need to rapidly respond to the mounting poaching pressure.

The mission considered that substantial progress was made in addressing the issue of water management in the Mara Basin in cooperation with the State Party of Kenya.

The mission was also concerned about the emergence of new and aggressive alien invasive species in the Serengeti ecosystem and considered that while the park authorities have so far been able to control invasive species, the emergence of these new invasive species might become an important future management challenge, which will need additional resources.

The mission also reviewed a number of other conservation issues, including the increasing human – wildlife conflicts, fire management, the annexation of Speke Bay, water scarcity issues, proposals to upgrade the Naabi – Seronera – Ndabaka road and tourist development, which are discussed in detail in the mission report and in the State Party report. The State Party report notes its intention to request assistance from the World Heritage Centre to survey water resources in the property.

On the issue of the management of the property, the mission considered that the General Management Plan could serve as a model for other parks in the country as well as for other World Heritage sites but regretted that no comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system is in place to assess the effectiveness of its implementation of the GMP. The mission expressed concern that resources available for its implementation remain insufficient, especially in the light of the mounting pressures on the property.

 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN underscore the conclusion of the mission that the OUV of the property is for the time being maintained but notes a number of growing threats to the integrity of property including, poaching, human-wildlife conflict, water scarcity, invasive species and management constraints. They welcome the efforts deployed by the State Party to put in place strategies and actions to contain these threats but consider that it is imperative to urgently carry out a number of actions to ensure that these threats and management issues will not impact the future integrity of the property. The mission developed a number of specific recommendations to address this, which are included in the draft decision.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN reiterate that the proposed North Road would have significant and potentially irreversible negative effects on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and therefore consider that a decision to build the north road would constitute a clear case for inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.7

The World Heritage Committee,

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

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

3. Noting with appreciation the statement by the State Party at the session, welcomes its decision to reconsider the North Road and to maintain the stretch of 53 km from Kleins gate to Tabora B traversing the northern wilderness area of the property as a gravel road, under the management of the "Tanzania National Parks" (TANAPA) and reserved mainly for tourism and administrative purposes, as it is currently;

4. Calls upon the international community and the donor agencies to consider providing support for the construction of a southern alignment, which will avoid Serengeti National Park;

5. Requests the State Party to finalise the on-going Environmental and Social Impact assessment (ESIA) for the above-mentioned proposed road works and submit to the World Heritage Committee for its consideration;

6. Recommends that a larger Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SEA) of the northern Tanzania road network is conducted;

7. Commends the States Parties of Tanzania and Kenya for the progress achieved in addressing the issue of water management in the Mara Basin, and encourages the Lake Victoria Basin commission to ensure the full implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for the Sustainable Management of the Mara River Basin;

8. Notes with concern the reports of a significant increase in rhinoceros and elephant poaching within the property as well as in other properties in Tanzania and eastern and southern Africa, and also requests the State Party, in cooperation with relevant States Parties in the region, to develop national and regional approaches to address this threat;

9. Takes note of the conclusion of the mission that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is for the time being maintained but notes a number of growing threats to the integrity of property including poaching, human-wildlife conflict, water scarcity, invasive species, fires and management constraints;

10. Further requests the State Party to implement the following urgent actions as recommended by the 2010 World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission in order to ensure that these threats and management issues will not impact the future integrity of the property:

a) Allocate more resources to anti-poaching efforts, especially in light of the increasing poaching pressure on rhinoceros and elephants,

b) Intensify efforts to develop alternative livelihoods to help stem subsistence and commercial poaching,

c) Upscale the current efforts to manage the problem of human-wildlife conflicts, particularly conflict with elephants, through community-based methods,

d) Work with all relevant institutions and organizations, including those in Kenya, to control the spread of alien invasive species in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem,

e) Carry out a detailed hydrological survey to determine the maximum carrying capacity of water use in the property and develop a comprehensive plan to address water shortage issues,

f) Engage the local communities, currently residing in the Speke Gulf area, in an open dialogue to find options that would minimize the costs and increase the benefits of the proposed plan to secure the area for wildlife use,

g) Carefully evaluate the options for improving the road from Naabi Hill to Seronera, in close cooperation with Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, taking into consideration all potentially damaging environmental impacts, before considering a decision to tarmac the road,

h) Strengthen the funding base for the implementation of the General Management Plan (including the newly developed fire management plan) and improve its monitoring,

i) Revive the Serengeti Ecosystem Forum to enhance collaboration and coordination between Tanzania National Parks, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, the Wildlife Division, local communities and other relevant stakeholders in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem to collectively combat the numerous threats to the ecosystem;

11. 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, in particular on the completion of the ESIA mentioned in paragraph 5 and on progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2010 mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.