Furthermore, the implementation of recommendations of the 2006 monitoring mission highlighted the following insufficiencies:
- At the institutional level, the Dja management unit is not functional and effective, and still not financially autonomous for an efficient management of the property;
- Concerning the combat against poaching: the measures undertaken are not sufficient to control this major pressure;
- With regard to threats linked to agriculture and forestry, no recommendation has been implemented;
- As regards mining or industrial farming: practically no recommendation has been implemented.l>
The main threats flagged by the State Party in this summary are: the starting up of activities by the GEOVIC mining company and the associated pollution risks, poaching, the exploitation of two timber sales, namely 10 02 192 and 10 02 193, granted in the eastern border of the property, that constitute a threat due to possible incursions in the property by contractors. These different threats will continue until such times as the management system of the property is improved.
A joint UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission on the state of conservation of the Dja Wildlife Reserve was carried out from 28 November to 5 December 2009. The objective of the mission was to evaluate the impact of current pressures on the property, as well as the mining project of the GEOVIC Company, in the periphery of the property. This monitoring mission enabled the evaluation of progress accomplished in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2006 mission carried out by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN. These recommendations concerned institutional organization, the anti-poaching combat system, agriculture, forestry and mining on the borders of the property.
a) Imminent commencement of mining activities by the GEOVIC Company on the periphery of the property
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that real threats weigh on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property because of the imminent commencement of mining activities by the GEOVIC Company. Indeed, the mining company for cobalt and other minerals (GEOVIC Cameroon PLC) has obtained authorization to mine in an area of more than 150,000 ha, some forty kilometres east of the Reserve, since 2003. Currently, it has bases at Lomié and Kongo (total deforestation of 50 ha in progress). This implantation of the GEOVIC shall be accompanied progressively by a demographic explosion at the periphery of the property (nearly 700 jobs directly created, more than 2,000 persons expected) which could significantly increase commercial poaching to satisfy the high demand for bushmeat. Moreover, this mining operation could result in a heavy pollution of the DjaRiver that surrounds almost three-quarters of the property. In addition to having a negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, this pollution could be a health hazard to local populations, and more particularly the Baka Pygmees.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that a review of the Environmental Impact Study of the GEOVIC is indispensible as the one conducted in 2006 is no longer valid, even although it is currently being updated and revised by an impact study on the biodiversity. Thus, GEOVIC must provide a final technical feasibility study to learn the employed processes, the circulation routes for the minerals, the level of movement foreseen by the personnel, the investment plans and their chronology. An Environmental and Social Management Plan must also be proposed by GEOVIC to define how to reduce to a minimum the negative impacts of this mining project. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also consider that the Outstanding Universal Value of the Dja Wildlife Reserve could be threatened in the very short-term if the impacts of the GEOVIC mining project are not controlled, and consider it urgent to halt the current work of GEOVIC, until the missing information on the evolution of the cobalt mining project is communicated to the World Heritage Centre.
b) Increase of traditional and commercial poaching
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the increase in poaching in the property, that concerns almost all the wildlife species (with a high proportion of small ungulates, primates and elephants), that has been confirmed by all the partners, including the local Dja NGO networks (ROLD). Patrol reports indicate a clear dimunition of wildlife in the central and southern parts of the Reserve. Different sources indicate a significant increase in the illegal trade of ivory. Traditional hunting that could have been considered as negligible over the past decades, could now become « critical » if the secular balance between adjacent populations and natural resources of the Reserve is upset. However, the local population has faith in its means of action (firearms), develops, and there is the increase in the reasons to hunt (to meet external demand). Commercial poaching depends largely on traditional hunting in the field. Increasing external demand for forest or wildlife products, without any relation to the supply capacity of the environment, is creating an imbalance locally.
The mission considers that a national information campaign should be initiated as only a change in behaviour at the national level shall ensure the long-term safeguarding of the wildlife of Dja. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN encourage the State Party to undertake all the preventive measures to mitigate the increase in poaching in view of the foreseeable increase of the population at Lomié, linked to the implantation of the GEOVIC Company.
c) Development of forestry exploitation and encroachment of agriculture in the periphery of the property
Forestry exploitation is located along the border of the Reserve, notably in the eastern part. The mission noted that some licensees have no hesitation in prospecting in Dja taking advantage of the absence of formalised borders, the lack of control and the different ways of circumventing the laws. The mission also noted agricultural encroachment in places where the borders of the property are imprecise, notably on the northern border of the Reserve. This pressure is amplified by the hesitations of the administration to demarcate the possible extension areas for agriculture, and its tendency to back down in the face of the advance of the fields and clearings. Several commercial plantations are developing in the western periphery of the property.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider it important that forestry exploitation and commercial plantations are the subject of environmental impact studies and that monitoring indicators and control methods be developed for all the activities on the periphery of the property.
d) Management of the property
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the Dja Wildlife Reserve is greatly lacking as regards the management, planning, surveillance, ecological monitoring that does not target the principal values of the property. Indeed, the current management plan is hardly operational and has no set of action plans. Surveillance is not effective because of logistics inadapted to a forest zone where movement is very difficult (vehicles to the detriment of hiking equipment). The cooperative frameworks officially established for a co-management of the Reserve have never functioned and the local NGOs are not involved in the management of the property.
The mission concluded that although the Dja Wildlife Reserve still retains the Outstanding Universal Value, its quantitative wealth in biodiversity has been eroded with an important decrease in the number of wildlife since its inscription on the World Heritage List. The critical threat to certain large wildlife species due to poaching could question, in the short-term, the justification for criterion (x). The pressure placed on certain non-ligneous resources and the rarity of certain species of mammals having an important role in the maintenance of the natural ecological processes, could also call into question criterion (ix). Moreover, the launching of the cobalt mining project in the periphery of the property, the direct and indirect negative impacts of which do not appear to have been fully considered, constitutes an important threat to the property’s integrity.
However, the mission considered that the tendency of degradation of the Outstanding Universal Value could still be reversed if the Environmental and Social Management Plan enabling the mitigation of direct and indirect negative impacts of the mining project, and an emergency plan to strengthen management, are developed and implemented in the short term. These elements are contained in the draft decision.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN support the conclusion of the mission that considers that in the absence of a response, it is certain that the property would soon present criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.