On 1 February 2011, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which provides an update on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the 2007 and 2008 monitoring missions to the property. However, the report does not provide information on the implementation of the recommendations included in Decision 34 COM 8B.13 following the inscription of the property under cultural criteria.
As requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session, a World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS joint reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 6-12 February 2011 to follow up on the conservation issues raised following its inscription under cultural criteria. As requested in Decision 34 COM 7B.4, the World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to Serengeti National Park also met with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) to discuss the progress achieved in implementing the 2007 and 2008 monitoring mission recommendations. A report on this meeting is included in annex to the mission report on Serengeti. Both reports are available online at the following web address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/35COM/.
a) Implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 and 2008 World Heritage Centre and IUCN monitoring missions
i) Pressure from tourism development and associated infrastructure
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that two of the traffic congestion Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) recommendations have been implemented: the increase of user fees to USD 200 per day and the introduction of vehicles with 8-10 instead of 4 passenger capacity. The State Party notes that it intends to implement two other recommendations on half-day crater visits and a crater booking system. NCAA informed the World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission that the number of vehicles now dropped to below 100 per day and that no new lodges or camps have been approved for construction since the 2008 mission. The large gravel pit near Sopa Lodge also has been closed. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that it is unclear whether all lodges have completed the environmental audit, as recommended by the 2007 mission. The State Party reports also notes that it has extended several roads to enable tourists to visit other areas and constructed 8 nature trails to divert pressure away from the crater.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome these measures but consider it is important to implement all the recommendations of the traffic congestion EIA as recommended by the 2007 and 2008 missions. In particular the crater booking system is essential to control the traffic congestion problem in the crater.
An NCAA delegation visited the World Heritage Centre in December 2010 to discuss road maintenance challenges in the property. In particular the maintenance of the main road from Lodoare to Nabi gates is a concern, not only as a result of the costs involved but also because on diminishing sources of gravel. One option considered is to harden selected roads. At the meeting, the State Party also submitted an EIA on the hardening of the ascending and descending roads into and out of Ngorongoro crater. The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies reviewed this EIA and concluded that the proposed works are unlikely to adversely impact the natural values for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, with the proviso that the recommendations of the 2007 and 2008 missions relating to traffic congestion are fully and effectively implemented.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recommended that the wider issue of the long-term maintenance of the road network should be subject to a thorough consultancy study undertaken by a team of two consultants: one engineer with experience in establishing rural roads in Africa and one ecologist with experience in park roads. Ideally, this study should take the form of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the NCA road network, consult all major stakeholders and feed into a clear ‘road strategy’ for both Ngorongoro and the Serengeti.
The study should consider, inter alia, the impacts that the development of tarmac roads would have on human-wildlife collisions (reportedly already very high in the Serengeti), the barrier effect tarmac roads could have on several smaller species, and on changed drainage patterns, and review the impacts on cultural heritage assets. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that there is a need to develop a sustainable tourism strategy for the entire Serengeti Ecosystem and for the Ngorongoro cultural landscape in collaboration with Tanzania National Parks in light of the numerous tourism management issues the property will continue to face.
ii) Increasing human pastoral population and associated encroachment and cultivation
NCAA noted that as part of the voluntary relocation programme, an alternative site to accommodate the immigrant families has been identified near Loliondo, with adequate water and pasture. To date 50 have been moved to the new site. The NCAA states that it is confident that others will relocate soon, especially given that agriculture is no longer permitted inside the NCA. It reports that it is actively looking for more land outside the Ngorongoro district for relocation. NCAA confirmed that agriculture in the NCA had been banned since 2009. As an alternative it is promoting a livestock development programme to improve cattle breeds. No information is provided in the State Party report on whether a new census and carrying capacity study is planned. On the issue of relocation of staff outside the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN were informed that the construction of flats outside the NCA had been interrupted due to the main contractor pulling out of the project. The NCAA is now seeking a new contractor and this is likely to lead to further delay. The NCAA also noted that the encroachment by cattle and people in the crater has been reduced by 75% since 2008 as a result of the provision of alternative sources of water and salt on the crater rim.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the progress reported by the State Party and consider that the issue of human population impacts are complex and can only be addressed through dialogue with the local communities and will require a long term approach. They welcome the decision by the State Party to ban agriculture in the property, and note that a livestock development programme is proposed as an alternative. They note the importance of taking into account the carrying capacity of the property in setting stocking numbers and consider more information should be provided by the State Party on this new approach.
iii) Invasive alien species
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN were informed that the biological control of Azolla filliculoides is proving problematic and efforts to remove it from the crater have so far not been successful. They note that a new invasive species, particularly the aggressive and toxic weed Parthenium hysterophus, has recently been discovered on the crater rim. The NCAA invasive species unit has started education programmes to raise awareness of the species to aid detection and eradication.
The 2011 mission noted that the current management is more geared toward the conservation of natural resources, tourism and land use issues related to the Maasai people, than to the conservation of cultural resources, as also noted at the time of the property’s inscription under cultural criteria. In order to bring about a more equitable balance between the management of natural and cultural heritage, there is a need to finalise and operationalise the Memorandum of Understanding between the Antiquities Division and NCAA. This could pave the way for an integrated and efficient management of both natural and cultural heritage and unlock both financial and human resources to support this process.
There is also a need to provide resources for the immediate revision of the integrated management plan as an overall framework for the conservation, protection and management of both the cultural and natural attributes at the property.
The State Party reports that the NCAA has instituted a mechanism of land use planning, budget management and development activities with the involvement of the local community and considers that this initiative is progressing well. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN were provided with the latest audited NCAA accounts showing the detailed breakdown of expenditure. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies welcome the NCAA for the improved transparency.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that an ‘Enhancing our Heritage’ workshop will take place in the NCA in March 2011, and request that the outcomes of this management effectiveness evaluation are communicated to the World Heritage Centre.
c) Results of the 2011 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS monitoring mission
i) Olduvai Gorge
The 2011 mission noted with concern the progressive deterioration of the fabric of the FLK-Zinjanthropus excavation site. There is a need to stabilise the erosion at this site and also at all excavations conducted in Olduvai Gorge and elsewhere within the NCA. To ensure that future research does not contribute to the problem, stabilisation of excavations should be included in research guidelines. The mission observed large herds of Maasai livestock in the Gorge. They considered that these pose threats to the archaeological resources and should be limited through a participatory approach with the pastoral communities.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that an overall pastoralism strategy should be developed that includes the provision of watering holes outside the Gorge and/or the identification of areas within the Gorge that are less sensitive to erosion by livestock.
The mission was informed that the plans for a construction of a podium at the FLK-Zinjanthropus site are outdated. However, the mission team was informed of other plans to construct a research station at Olduvai Gorge. Given the extreme sensitivity of this area, the mission considered that any potential plans for construction at Olduvai Gorge should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
ii) Nasera Rock Shelter
The mission noted that the Nasera Rock Shelter is still being used as an enclosure for a herd of Maasai goats and that camping takes place at the site. The mission considered that the shelter should be protected from livestock by installing an appropriate barrier that patrols need to be organized, that the impacts of vegetation (trees and shrubs) on the archaeological deposits need to be minimised, and that the significance of the site needs to be explained to the pastoral communities.
iii) Laetoli footprint trackway
The mission coincided with the re-excavation of a 3 x 4 metre section of the Laetoli hominid footprint trackway by the State Party. This partial reopening was conducted by the Department of Antiquities in collaboration with a team of national and international experts. The formal excavation protocol was not made available to the mission. The mission was informed by the State Party that the results of the re-opening will be used as a basis for a decision on the best approach for conserving and presenting the footprints. Potential options include, but are not limited to (1) reburial, (2) physically removing the trackway tuff and transporting it to a secure location, and (3) permanently opening the trackway. Option 3 would include the construction of an exhibition centre to be built on top of the footprint trackway so that it would be exposed and presented to the public. The mission noted that an existing site museum near the Laetoli site includes an architectural concept design for such an exhibition centre. The mission received information that the construction of this exhibition centre has the support of the highest levels of Government, although its approval is subject to recommendations of a meeting with the Antiquities Department on 7 February 2011.
The mission expressed its concerns at the proposal to permanently opening the trackway without in-depth study and evaluation of the techniques to be used. Any decision needs to take into account not only the feasibility of constructing an exhibition building that would guarantee the conservation of the footprint trackway, but also the short, medium and long-term financial and human requirements for its effective maintenance and operation. Additionally, the integrity of the landscape needs to be taken into account for any major infrastructure development at this unique location. Recent history provides abundant examples of the devastating effects of improper maintenance of fossil footprint trackways elsewhere and some of these are detailed in the mission report. The mission recommended that all precautionary measures should be taken to ensure that the Laetoli footprint trackway is conserved in a manner that best ensures its protection and sustains its contribution to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the State Party should submit as soon as possible a comprehensive report on the partial excavation, and on the protocols followed, to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, for evaluation and review before the next 36th session of the World Heritage Committee. Any proposed plans for the presentation of the trackways, including the construction of buildings, should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any commitment is made.
iv) Mapping the paleo-anthropological resources, including specific boundaries for Laetoli, Lake Ndutu, Nasera and the Ngorongoro Burial Grounds
No progress has been made with the mapping of the paleo-anthropological resources or the establishment of site boundaries in the NCA, as requested by the Committee. The mission, however, did note the willingness of the University of Colorado Denver, USA, to partner with the Department of Antiquities to produce GIS based maps based on existing information before the end of this year.
v) Overall state of conservation of paleo-anthropological sites
The mission expressed great concern at the absence of conservation plans for all paleo-anthropological sites in the NCA as requested by the Committee, as this lack may threaten the property.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodiesconsider that the State Party should try to engage external technical support for this process, given the apparent lack of capacity and skills within the current establishment at the property.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies also note that the State Party did not provide any details of sensitive archaeological landscapes throughout the property, or of the location of finds from all paleo-anthropological sites, both of which were requested by the Committee.