Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon) (N 407)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1987
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/407/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 84,700
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/407/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount granted: USD 60,000, UNESCO FIT Netherlands. USD 193,275 and USD 118,725, respectively in 2008 and 2009, in the frame of the Central Africa World Heritage Forest Initiative (CAWHFI) in the south-west of Cameroon. USD 263 700 from Franz Weber Foundation for the sustainable conservation of the property.
Previous monitoring missions
March 1998: UNESCO monitoring mission; June 2006, December 2009 and February-March 2012: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions.
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Lack of entire approval and implementation of management plan
- Agricultural and forest encroachment
- Mining exploitation project close to the property
- Industrial agriculture in the buffer zone
- Threats exerted by commercial hunting and deforestation around the Park
- Mekin hydroelectric dam
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/407/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015
On 17 February 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/407/documents. The report provides the following information:
- In July 2014, seven additional forest guards were made available to the Conservation Service. The purchase of a patrol boat was also made possible in 2014. Current efforts are geared towards securing additional funding and to developing a sustainable financing mechanism;
- The Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) undertaken for the Mekin Dam and the Sud Hévéa Cameroun plantation both include an Environmental and Social Management Plan, detailing measures to mitigate impacts of these projects. Implementation of these measures by Sud Cameroun Hévéa has started, although the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sud Cameroun Hévéa and the Conservation Service has not yet been signed. An MoU has also been signed between HYDRO MEKIN and the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries (MINEPIA);
- Draft Terms of Reference for the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) of all current and future projects around the property are attached to the report. This study was financed by the Franz Weber Foundation within the framework of the sustainable conservation project of the Dja Faunal Reserve. The SESA is expected to be implemented in 2016 and 2017;
- In 2014, the surveillance effort has increased to 61% compared to 2013, and the number of lawsuits against poachers has increased by 24%. As a result, the use of traps and the amount of bush meat seized are reported to have decreased, however the number of tusks seized has increased from 37 in 2013 to 66 in 2014;
- In order to address deforestation, the property is almost entirely surrounded by forest concessions, most of which are subject to the principles of sustainable forest exploitation and governance of EU-FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade);
- The three mining permits overlapping with the property have never been implemented, and have all expired, most of them on 30 November 2014. They have not been, and will not be, renewed. The mining company GEOVIC is stated to have halted its activities;
- The boundaries of the property have not been changed since its inscription. Only the buffer zone has changed, but the area of the property is confirmed to remain at 526 000 ha;
- The State Party’s partners have foreseen nearly 45 billion FCFA (approximately 72.8 million USD) for securing protected areas in the region.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The State Party’s continued efforts to increase staff and the operational budget and investment into the property’s Conservation Service are noted with appreciation, and it should be encouraged to continue these efforts.
It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for its efforts to increase surveillance of the property, which appear to be achieving results in terms of reducing the use of traps and the amount of bush meat seized. While the increase in the number of tusks seized could simply be a consequence of the increased surveillance effort, it is undeniable that elephant poaching remains a significant threat to the property. Given that elephant poaching is affecting World Heritage properties and other protected areas across Africa, it is highly welcomed that the State Party’s partners have foreseen nearly 45 billion FCFA (approximately USD 72.8 million) for securing protected areas, including reversing poaching at the local, national, and transboundary levels.
While the State Party notes that poaching and deforestation are both a real threat to the property, no statistics are provided on deforestation. It is noted that mechanisms are in place and being further explored to regulate forest concessions around the property, and that awareness raising activities are conducted to address agricultural encroachment. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide statistics on deforestation to demonstrate the effectiveness of these measures.
The confirmation that all three mining permits that overlapped with the property have expired and will not be renewed is welcome. It is recalled that GEOVIC obtained its mining license in 2003 with an initial validity of 25 years. It is not clear whether the stated halting of activities by GEOVIC is of a permanent or temporary nature, especially given that the draft Terms of Reference for the SESA refers to the GEOVIC project as an existing project. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide further information in that regard, and to ensure that an assessment of potential impacts from the GEOVIC project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property is completed prior to any future resumption of activities, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.
Concerning the Environmental and Social Management Plans for both the Mekin dam and the Sud Cameroun Hévéa industrial plantation, no further information is provided by the State Party concerning the measures taken to prevent or mitigate the negative direct and indirect impacts of these developments on the OUV of the property, as identified in their respective EIAs, beyond activities to contribute to awareness raising, anti-poaching, and monitoring. These measures are considered insufficient to address the significant potential impacts of these developments. Therefore, whilst progress was reported last year on the requests made in Decision 36 COM 7B.1, Paragraph 7 a) and b) relating to the revision of the limits of the iron ore exploration license that overlapped with the property and the suspension of work at the GEOVIC concession, significant progress is not apparent in relation to the requests made in Paragraph 7 c) and d) relating to the identification of adequate measures to mitigate the impacts on the property from the Sud Cameroun Hévéa industrial plantation and the Mekin dam. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.86, it is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to provide further information about the measures taken to minimize and mitigate direct and indirect impacts from these developments, in particular in relation to degradation and fragmentation of habitats, and the risk of the proliferation of invasive species, and to invite a joint World Heritage Centre- IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess progress on these issues.
It is finally recommended that the Committee reconsider the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 40th session in 2016, if no significant progress has been accomplished concerning the requests previously made by the Committee, as enumerated above.
Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.1
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.1 and 38 COM 7B.86, adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
- Notes with appreciation the State Party’s continued efforts to increase staff and the operational budget and investment into the property’s Conservation Service, and encourages the State Party to continue these efforts;
- Commends the State Party for its efforts to increase surveillance of the property but notes with concern that elephant poaching remains a significant threat to the property, and highly welcomes the commitment by the State Party and its partners to address poaching at the local, national, and transboundary levels;
- Also welcomes the progress made by the State Party with the formulation of terms of reference for the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) of all of the major projects around the property, and encourages the State Party to mobilize funds necessary to carry-out this study;
- Notes the efforts made to address deforestation, and requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre statistics about deforestation in the property and in its vicinity, in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of these efforts;
- Further welcomes the information that the three mining permits overlapping the property have expired and will not be renewed, and also requests the State Party to further clarify the state of the GEOVIC mining project in the property’s vicinity, and to ensure that potential impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are assessed prior to any resumption of activities, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
- Also notes with concern that no information is provided on the specific measures taken to reduce and mitigate the significant potential direct and indirect impacts on the OUV of the property from both the Mekin dam project and the Sud Cameroun Hévéa industrial plantation, as identified in the respective Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for these developments, and considers therefore that significant progress is required in line with the requests made in Decision 36 COM 7B.1, Paragraph 7 c) and d);
- Urges the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, as a matter of priority, further information on the measures taken to minimize and mitigate the impacts from the above mentioned projects on the property, particularly in relation to degradation and fragmentation of habitats, and the risk of the proliferation of invasive species;
- Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre- IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess progress with the implementation of measures to minimize and mitigate the impacts on the OUV of the property from the Mekin dam project and the Sud Cameroun Hévéa industrial plantation;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.