1.         Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda) (N 684)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1999-2004

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1995-2006)
Total amount approved: USD 116,739
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January 2003: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 31 January 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/documents. Progress on a number of conservation issues raised by the Committee at its previous sessions is reported, including:

The State Party notes that a proposed mini-hydropower weir falling partly inside the property has not been approved for development. It also indicates that activities associated with the newly-signed 25-year concession to re-open the Kilembe copper mine immediately adjacent to the property will affect the water streams flowing out of the property, but details of the concession or wider environmental impacts of this development are not provided.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party report was submitted in February 2015; therefore, activities undertaken during the course of 2015 were not reported.  Subsequent correspondence (December 2015) between the World Heritage Centre and the State Party has confirmed that no significant additional information was available.

Steady progress has been made in strengthening management effectiveness and engaging local communities through participation in boundary maintenance, fire control and management planning. Park revenues are now more equitably shared with communities, further progress has been made in the establishment and monitoring of collaborative resource use agreements with local communities and cultural approaches to conservation have been introduced. Long-term ecological monitoring is continuing with regular assessments of some key parameters, particularly related to the effects of climate change. However, no information is provided on the quantitative assessments of key large mammal populations, which contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) under criterion (x), or whether the Mountain Specialist Group of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) has been consulted, as recommended in Decisions 36 COM 7B.4 and 38 COM 7B.93.

The revision of the park management plan, which expired in 2014, and the sustainable financing strategy and the business plan, which has been underway since 2013, should be completed as a high priority to ensure an updated management framework for the property.

The decision to halt the proposed mini-hydropower scheme at Kakaka, based on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) findings indicating negative impacts on the property’s OUV is welcome.

It is noted that quarterly meetings between the States Parties of Uganda and DRC are being held to plan operations including coordinated patrols but that insurgent activity in DRC is limiting such patrols. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its encouragement to the States Parties (38 COM 8B.4) to continue their efforts towards developing a formal protocol to further strengthen collaboration.

Visitor numbers to the property in 2014 have remained very low at 1,209 international tourists and 1,558 national students, which generates annual revenues equivalent to less than USD 100,000 hence the continued support of international partners is critical if management operations are to be maintained.

The State Party report does not adequately address the Committee’s concerns which relate to the potential impacts of re-opening the Kilembe mine (Decision 38 COM 7B.93). No information was received on the terms of the 25-year concession agreement with the China-based company Tibet Hima Ltd. The mine is located very close to the boundary of the property and may include subterranean mining shafts that enter the property. Given its connectivity downstream, the mine could also impact the conditions of integrity of the World Heritage property of the Virunga National Park ,and therefore requires a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, which specifically assesses potential impacts on the OUV of both properties.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.82

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.4 and 38 COM 7B.93, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes further progress made in engaging local communities in the management and protection of the property;
  4. Also welcomes the progress made in implementing the ecological monitoring plan for the property, encourages the State Party to develop additional monitoring protocols to assess population trends for key large mammal species, and reiterates its recommendation to the State Party to work with the Mountains Specialist Group of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) to safeguard the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in the long-term;
  5. Appreciates the decision not to allow the development of a mini-hydropower scheme partially inside the property on the grounds that it would adversely impact the OUV of the property;
  6. Notes the difficulty of organizing coordinated patrols along the international border with the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to insurgent activity on the Congolese side of the border, and reiterates its encouragement to the States Parties of Uganda and DRC to continue their efforts towards developing a formal protocol to strengthen their collaboration;
  7. Reiterates its utmost concern about the award of a 25-year concession to re-open the Kilembe copper mine adjacent to the property;
  8. Reiterates its position that mineral exploration or exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status, which is supported by the International Council of Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) Position Statement of not undertaking such activities within World Heritage properties, and urges the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre details of the concession awarded to Tibet Hima Ltd and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the potential impacts of any activity on both the property and the Virunga National Park downstream, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and in consultation with the State Party of the DRC;
  9. Also appreciates the funding provided by different donors to develop tourism and management frameworks for the property, calls on further donors to support the site, and reiterates its request to the State Party to provide the revised management plan, including the sustainable financing strategy and the business plan for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, prior to approval;
  10. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.