On 8 February 2010, the State Party submitted a concise report on the state of conservation of the property. This report contained limited information on progress achieved in the implementation of the corrective measures:
a) Organization and implementation of a large-scale combined anti-poaching operation involving the management authority (ICCN) and the Congolese Army Forces (FARDC) in the most threatened areas;
The State Party reports that a mobile intervention unit was set up by the park management authority ICCN in July 2009, composed of 25 park rangers selected on the basis of their integrity and efficiency. This unit is now operational in the region and is currently being trained in paramilitary techniques in order to be able to participate in mixed patrols with the Congolese army. The report also mentions the deployment of a special anti-poaching unit of the National Police since September 2009, which will work in synergy with the mobile intervention unit. The report also notes that surveillance activities, patrol rations and guard bonuses continue being covered through the European Union funded ECOFAC IV project. Currently efforts are also underway to integrate 20 former poachers from the four local communities into the park ranger staff.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the report provides no information on the large-scale security operation to combat armed poaching, which according to last years report had been planned for the second half of 2009 and which received support from the World Heritage Fund. The World Heritage Centre is still awaiting the final report from WWF on the grant which was provided from the Fund. The State Party report also does not provide any information on the impacts of these operations on the poaching pressure in the property.
At the yearly meeting of the DRC protected Area Agency ICCN with its conservation partners, the Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism announced that a large scale military operation could be implemented soon to evacuate the armed groups from the property. The World Heritage Centre on 24 April 2010 received additional information from the State Party, that the President had recently discussed the problems of poaching in the property with the Provincial Authorities, and that a decision was taken to conduct a large scale operation in May by the Congolese army to chase poachers out of the park.
b) Creation of a permanent consultation mechanism between the provincial political, administrative and military authorities of the four provinces covered by the property in order to address in a coordinated manner, the elimination of illegal activities, specifically large-scale poaching, in the Park;
The tripartite monitoring structure, which was established in 2008 between the four concerned provincial authorities, the army and the protected area agency ICCN to monitor and assess the anti-poaching plan, is still in existence but failed to meet in 2009. The State Party report mentions that ICCN is undertaking efforts to revive this structure. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN regret that the consultation mechanism has not been operational in 2009 and call upon the State Party to revive the anti-poaching plan and ensure cooperation between the provincial political, administrative and military authorities of the four provinces in order to address, in a coordinated manner, the elimination of illegal activities.
c) Implement the recently-developed anti-poaching strategy
The State Party report notes that a partnership was developed with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to train ICCN park guards. This training, which will be conducted by three instructors recruited by IFAW and two instructors from the army, was planned for December 2009 but had to be postponed till February 2010 as a result of the security issues in the east of the country. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the report provides no information on the implementation of the anti-poaching strategy, which was developed in 2007.
d) Initiate a process to resolve the conflict concerning the use of Park resources through a participatory approach
The State Party reports that participatory delimitation and demarcation activities are continuing. Participatory structures were established and the negotiation of “convergence contracts” with local communities is underway. The report notes that an awareness raising programme to incite poachers and illegal occupants in the Park to leave the park is being implemented. Three awareness raising sessions have also been conducted with local leaders.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that no information has been provided on the content of the agreements being negotiated, nor on progress achieved in addressing the resource use conflicts with the local communities.
e) Develop and implement a strategy to minimize and mitigate the impact of villages in the Park
The State Party notes that this strategy has been developed and integrated into the 2009-2011 triennial strategic plan for the property, but that unfortunately funding is lacking for its implementation. With the signature of a new project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Regional Protected Area Network (RAPAC), implementation of the strategy is scheduled for this year.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the strategy mentioned in the report has not been submitted to the World Heritage Centre. Apart from the threats of poaching, the impact of the villages inside the property is one of the major threats to its Outstanding Universal Value and, in particular, its integrity. It is therefore important submit this strategy for review and input as quickly as possible.
f) Link the two sectors of the property in the framework of a development plan for the property;
The procedure continues, but will require intensive consultations with the different parties concerned. A detailed feasibility study is said to be underway. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that no information is provided on the results of the consultations with the local communities or the preliminary studies, which were mentioned in the 2009 State Party report.
g) Establish a special fund for the rehabilitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo World Heritage properties (DRC)
See the report on Kahuzi-BiegaNational Park (Document WHC-10/34.COM/7A).
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN regret that the report provides little factual information on the progress in the implementation of the corrective measures and its impact on the state of conservation of the property. In particular, they express concern with regard to the accumulated delays in the implementation of the corrective measures, in particular the anti-poaching strategy and the joint operation between ICCN and the Congolese Army to clear poachers and armed groups from the property, which has been planned since 2008, and the lack of reporting on the assistance provided by the World Heritage Fund. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also request the State Party to provide as soon as possible information on the strategy to minimize and mitigate the impact of villages in the Park, which is reported to have been developed, on the agreements under discussion with the local communities on the use of the natural resources, and on the results of the consultations with the local communities and the preliminary studies conducted on the establishment of a corridor between the two parts of the property.
In view of the current situation at the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that it be maintained on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and to continue application of the reinforced monitoring mechanism.