From 24 January to 3 February 2011, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property. The mission report is available online at the following web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM. On 1 February 2011, a report was submitted by the State Party on the state of conservation of the property. The report provides a summary of the International Workshop on Effective Management of Lorentz National Park World Heritage Site, held on 29 November 2010 as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), which was attended by representatives from relevant offices from central and local governments, as well as UNESCO, international NGOs, Freeport and local communities.
a) Infrastructure development
The State Party report notes that the road construction between Wamena and Yuguru is aimed at connecting several isolated regencies, and that there is no alternative option than to cross the property, including the Lake Habema region. The report as well as the mission acknowleges that currently most of the transportation in the province is carried out by air. However, since air transport is very expensive for transportation of goods and local community use, the Provincial Government of Papua is determined to continue road construction to accelerate development programs to improve people’s welfare. Also, the 2010 International Workshop concluded that infrastructure development, such as roads within the property, is unavoidable as this is in line with the growth rate of Papua’s development in general. However the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission found the ecosystem in the Lake Habema region seriously damaged by road construction.
The mission notes that the roads being constructed in the Lake Habema region are among the provincial government’s priority projects to implement its integrated transport programme. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the monitoring mission received information that, following an interdepartmental meeting on 1 April 2011, the Directorate of Highways of the Ministry of Public Works has instructed its regional office in Papua to cease road development in the Lake Habema region until the Ministry of Forestry issues a permit.The mission recommends that the State Party ensure the immediate cessation of road construction in the property, and immediately commence the rehabilitation of constructed roads, It also recommends that the State Party commission a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the integrated transport programme for Papua as it relates to the property, which should identify the least environmentally damaging transport options, including alternatives to road building. It further recommends that the State Party undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) of any future projects which are likely to affect the values and integrity of the property.
b) Forest die-back
The State Party acknowledges that the road construction facilitates the spread of Phytophthora fungus which has the potential to damage and destroy highly sensitive sub-alpine Nothofagus forests. It reports that investigation and action to address forest die-back will expectedly be conducted in 2011-2012. The mission also notes that forest die-back downslope of the road appears to have stabilised somewhat, but that it now appears to be occurring upslope of the road as well, with unknown causes.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN support the mission recommendation that the State Party develop management guidelines to contain the spread of die-back disease, which should be provided to all relevant stakeholders undertaking activities within the property.
c) Management issues
The State Party reports that the 2010 International Workshop identified a number of management issues, including a lack of implementation of the management policy, local government decentralization, unclear boundaries between regencies, limited communication between stakeholders, lack of World Heritage regulations, limited management capacity, and insufficient detail in the management plan regarding zonation, community traditional rights and use of local/traditional knowledge. The State Party notes that the Provincial Government of Papua has developed ten new regencies within the area of the property. It also reports that a Multi Stakeholders Collaboration Team for the property was created in 2009 with members from nine of these regencies, which in March 2010 held a workshop, which was attended by representatives from provincial and regency governments, NGOs and communities, and which aimed to determine the draft zonation of the property to support the development of the management plan.
The joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission notes that both the provincial and the regency governments are responsible for forest management and conservation within their jurisdiction and that furthermore, the customary owners of the land encompassed by the property do not recognize any sovereignty over the land other than their own. The mission also notes that these overlapping jurisdictions generate tensions which constitute an escalating threat to the management of the property, to the extent that the Lorentz National Park Bureau is virtually powerless to oppose development pressures from provincial and local governments. It further notes that there is a lack of consultation between the Lorentz National Park Bureau and the customary owners of the land, which reportedly results in the customary owners entering into arrangements with provincial and regency governments and their contractors who undertake works in the property contrary to national legislation. Furthermore, the mission reports that the park staff has limited knowledge or experience of contemporary protected area management, that the park budget indicates that most resources are allocated to infrastructure development and operation, rather than direct management activities, and that the zonation plan for the property is overly complex.
The mission recommends that the State Party urgently seek external assistance to build staff management capacity. It also recommends that the State Party undertake a community outreach programme to raise local people’s awareness and understanding of the values and benefits of the property. Furthermore, it recommends that the State Party review the property’s budget and resource allocation to ensure that these address the major threats to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), as well as review the property’s management and zonation plans, using protection of OUV as the primary basis for zone allocation.
d) Other conservation issues – illegal logging, illegal fishing and poaching
The State Party notes that road construction could lead to increased illegal logging in the park, but that it lacks accurate and reliable data on the current status of this threat. It reports that timber collection occurs related to traditional use by local communities, and that the Lorentz National Park Bureau cooperates with the local communities to reduce timber collection. The mission acknowleges that it found no evidence of large-scale logging operations. It also notes that licenses for the transport of timber are not issued unless the applicant owns land in the Forest Conversion Zone outside the property.
The State Party reports that the Lorentz National Park Bureau lacks the ability to control the marine area of the property, as it does not own a boat. It notes that in the mainland of the property, traditional hunting and fishing for subsistence of local communities occurs. With regards to poaching, the mission notes a media report that a shipment of 11,000 pig-nosed tortoises was intercepted in the Asmat region. It recommends that the State Party undertake a community outreach programme to raise awareness and improve understanding of the existence, values and benefits of the property, which will assist in detecting future poaching activities.