1.         Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Niger) (N 573)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1991

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1992-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Political instability and civil strife. 

Corrective measures identified

The following corrective measures were identified during the 2005 IUCN mission and adopted by the Committee at its 29th session (Durban, 2005):

a) Re-establish physical presence of the management authority in Iférouane and provide adequate resources to allow better control of natural resource use within the property;

b) Establish Land Commissions (Commissions foncières) in the four Municipalities and clarify respective land-use and resource access rights for local residents;

c) Significantly improve monitoring and surveillance of the property in order to address poaching and illegal natural resource extraction;

d) Immediately halt all commercial collection of timber and thatch from the property;

e) Initiate soil and vegetation stabilization actions to control soil erosion, and measures to reduce destabilization of soils by motorized traffic.

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/573/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 142,450
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/573/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

September – October 1998: World Heritage Centre mission; May 2005: IUCN reactive monitoring mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Political instability and civil strife;

b) Poverty;

c) Management constraints;

d) Ostrich poaching;

e) Soil erosion;

f) Demographic pressure;

g) Livestock pressure;

h) Pressure on wood resources.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/573/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

On 18 January 2010, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. The report outlines some past and current progress made in implementing the five corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 29th session (Durban, 2005), but contains little new information compared to the information received in previous years. The report notes that a reintroduction programme for endangered species is underway, and confirms the State Party’s wish to undertake an evaluation of the property’s state of conservation. In addition to the report, the State Party submitted a number of strategic documents, as requested by World Heritage Committee Decision 33 COM 7A.10, including four studies undertaken between 2006 and 2008 on wood and thatch use, the reintroduction of endangered species, ecotourism development, control of invasive species, and two earlier studies undertaken in 2005 on the state of conservation and monitoring needs of the property. However, the action plans for sustainable resource management of the property and for the restoration of degraded land have yet to be submitted as requested by the Commitee. The cover letter also mentions the wish of the State Party that the property be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The State Party report notes that the property has been affected by instability and civil conflict, following the outbreak of a new Touareg rebellion in February 2007, but that a peace accord was signed recently which should resolve the security concerns. However, the report does not give any more details about the accessibility of the 77000 km2 site to the management authority or staff of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/ Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded project “Co-management of Natural Resources in the Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves and adjacent areas” (COGERAT). This project, which started in 2006, has been assisting the management authority with the implementation of the corrective measures through various participatory management projects undertaken in collaboration with local communities. Implementation has also been hampered by the conflict situation.

The report notes the following progress in the implementation of the corrective measures:

 

a)  Re-establish physical presence of the management authority in Iférouane and provide adequate resources to allow better control of natural resource use within the property

As mentioned in previous reports the property’s conservation team returned to its base in Iférouane in 2008. COGERAT, in collaboration with the property’s conservation team, has put in place community surveillance units in Timia and Tabelot. During the course of 2009, the State Party also designated a Park Director and an Associate Park Director, who are based at Iférouane. The physical presence of the management authority is being further reinforced by the reactivation of forest ranger posts in the towns of Timia and Tabelot. However, it is not clear from the report how much of the property is patrolled by the conservation team, or the impact of their activities and presence on the management of natural resource use within the property.

 

b)  Establish Land Commissions (Commissions foncières) in the four Municipalities and clarify respective land-use and resource access rights for local residents

The State Party recalls that three regional land commissions have been established, as well as two municipal land commissions, as mentioned in previous reports. During the course of 2009, the operation of these commissions, which are mandated to mediate land and natural resource use issues, was supported by the property’s conservation team. However, no information is provided on how these commissions have contributed to clarifying land-use and resource access rights.

 

c)  Significantly improve monitoring and surveillance of the property in order to address poaching and illegal natural resource extraction

The State Party recalls the information provided in previous reports that 11 community brigades have been established to address illegal wood harvesting and poaching, that 20 environmental co-management committees and four local co-management bodies were established in the Timia municipality; and that an ecological and socio-economic monitoring network is being established. The report notes that during the course of 2009, COGERAT undertook a number of capacity building initiatives for the above co-management committees and bodies. The report further notes that a tripartite bush fire agreement was signed in 2009 by the municipality of Aderbissanat, Agadez and COGERAT, to create a 200 km long, 15 m wide fire barrier. However, as noted in previous years, no information is provided on whether these surveillance and co-management bodies have been able to address poaching and natural resource extraction, or on the data collected so far through the ecological and socio-economic monitoring network.

 

d) Immediately halt all commercial collection of timber and thatch from the property

The State Party recalls that COGERAT has conducted studies on wood and thatch use, which led to the development of action plans for the management of these resources. The report notes that COGERAT has started to disseminate alternative stoves, which use less wood, and is planning to train local craftsmen and women associations to produce these stoves. In addition an agreement was signed with the coal trading organisation of Niger to disseminate and popularize stoves using mineral coal. As a result of this initiative, the State Party reports that wood consumption has decreased by 15%; from 97,000 tonnes in 2005 to 82,308 tonnes in 2009. Unfortunately the report does not provide information on the current levels of timber and thatch collection in the property and its impact on the ecosystem.

e) Initiate soil and vegetation stabilization actions to control soil erosion, and measures to reduce destabilization of soils by motorized traffic

The report notes that restoration and seeding of 5,145 ha has now been undertaken, compared to the 406 ha restored and seeded in 2008, and that COGERAT produced 40,000 seedlings in 2009. Other restoration efforts mentioned in the report had already been reported previously. While the more than 10 fold increase of restored land is significant, there is still a long way to go to reach the COGERAT objective of restoring 55,000 ha of degraded habitat within the property.

The State Party notes that the triennial plan of the Department of National Parks includes activities aiming to reintroduce endangered species into Niger’s national parks. In 2009, an agreement was signed with the Environment Ministry and the Koutous Natural Resource Exploitation Cooperative to create favourable conditions for the reintroduction of the red-necked ostrich, which has disappeared from the property and subsists in captive breeding programmes financed by UNESCO. The implementation of this agreement began in 2009 with a stakeholder workshop, and in September 2009 a female ostrich was transferred to Iréfouane, where two males remain. With respect to reintroductions planned for other species, the State Party indicates that the reintroduction programme will soon be extended to Addax and Damma Gazelle.

 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that considerable effort will be required to achieve a successful reintroduction of the red-necked ostrich, based on the very small captive population in Iférouane. The reintroduction programme will require careful planning to succeed and the State Party is encouraged to collaborate with IUCN’s Species Survival Commission in the elaboration of a strategy for effective population recovery, and the development of rehabilitation programmes for the red-necked ostrich, as well as the Addax and Damma Gazelle.

On 28 September, the State Party submitted a draft unsigned International Assistance request to evaluate the state of conservation of the property, as a follow up to the World Heritage Committee’s request in Decision 33 COM 7A.10. From the draft request, it was not clear that the evaluation would focus on the population size and distribution of threatened species in order to evaluate the status of the Outstanding Universal Value, as requested by the Committee. No details were provided on the survey methodology which would be used. These comments were sent back to the State Party with the request to re-submit a signed request providing these additional data. The recommendation to involve the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission in the design of the survey was also reiterated. So far, no revised request has been received by the World Heritage Centre.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recognize the on-going efforts of the State Party, UNDP and GEF’s efforts to implement the corrective measures identified by the 2005 IUCN monitoring mission, in spite of the challenging security situation. However, they note that the State Party does not provide clear information on the impact of the above activities on the state of conservation of the property. They further note that the first phase of the COGERAT project is scheduled to end in 2010-11, and encourage UNDP, GEF and the State Party to rapidly prepare the second phase of this project, which is important for the rehabilitation of the property. Given the large size of the property, 7.7 million ha, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN reiterate their view that it will take a significant amount of time before the positive impact of the corrective measures can be registered on the recovery of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value.

With the recent improvement of the security situation, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that within the corrective measures priority is given to address poaching and other illegal resource use by deploying mixed ranger patrols constituted of staff of the reserve and the community surveillance units at site-level and allocating an annual budget for this. These mixed ranger patrols would contribute to implementing corrective measure (c) and enable the State Party to significantly improve surveillance of the property in order to address poaching.. 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the State Party’s willingness to undertake an evaluation of the state of conservation of the property, and reiterate the need to focus this evaluation on a comprehensive survey of the population size and distribution of threatened species, in order to develop population recovery and rehabilitation programmes. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN strongly recommend that this survey is planned and undertaken in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival Commission, in particular the Antelope Specialist Group. IUCN recalls that according to the IUCN Red List of threatened species, key species in the property continue to decline or be found at very low levels, and that the status of the critically endangered Addax and Dama Gazelle, which are considered to be the Saharan bovid species at highest risk of extinction in the near future, is unclear. As mentioned in last year’s report, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the survey is crucial to determine the current status of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and to define the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and the timeframe needed to achieve it. Therefore the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall the decision of the Committee that a joint monitoring mission should be invited to the property only after this comprehensive threatened species survey is undertaken.

With no information available on the current status of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider a discussion on a removal of the Property from the List of World Heritage in Danger premature. With the signature of the peace agreement and the improvement of the security situation, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN express their hope that efforts to implement the corrective measures can now gain momentum. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7A.10

The World Heritage Committee;

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7A.10, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Acknowledges the on-going efforts of the State Party with support of the UNDP/GEF COGERAT project (Co-management of natural resources in the Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves and adjacent areas) to implement the corrective measures identified by the 2005 IUCN monitoring mission in spite of the challenging security situation, but reiterates that given the size of the property it will take time before a positive impact on the recovery of the property's Outstanding Universal Value can be registered;

4. Welcomes the improvement in the security situation following the signing of a Peace Accord in October 2009;

5. Urges the State Party to take advantage of this improvement to speed up the implementation of the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 29th session (Durban, 2005) and in particular address with priority the poaching and illegal resource use through mixed patrols comprising staff of the reserve and the community surveillance units at site-level and allocate an annual budget for this;

6. Calls upon the international community to increase its support for the implementation of the corrective measures, and in particular UNDP/GEF to rapidly approve the second phase of the COGERAT project;

7. Also welcomes the State Party's willingness to undertake an evaluation of the state of conservation of the property, and requests it to submit an International Assistance Request for a comprehensive survey of the population size and distribution of threatened species, including details on the proposed survey methodology, in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival Commission, in particular the Antelope Specialist Group;

8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, a proposal for the Desired State of Conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011;

9. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission, after a comprehensive threatened species survey is undertaken, in order to assess the state of conservation of the property and progress made in the implementation of the corrective measures, with a view to establishing a Desired State of Conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, update the corrective measures and set a timeframe for their implementation;

10. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, and in particular on the implementation of the corrective measures and other recommendations of the World Heritage Committee, in particular the comprehensive survey of threatened species within the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011;

11. Decides to retain Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Niger) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-10/34.COM/7A, WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add.2),

2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/8E,

2. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex I of Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8E, WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add.2 for the following World Heritage properties: 

3. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed in priority;

4. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: