1.         Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 718)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   1997-present

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

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

No Desired state of conservation has yet been established. A proposal was developed by the joint 2009 mission (see report). 

Corrective measures identified

The following corrective measures were identified by the 2006 UNESCO / IUCN mission and adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006):

a) Ensure the immediate withdrawal of military personnel of the Congolese army involved in poaching, ivory trafficking and illegal mining;

b) Close down and prevent all illegal mining operations inside the property;

c) Suspend the rehabilitation works on the RN4 national road crossing the property, to allow for a proper Environmental Impact Assessment and until proper measures to reduce its expected environmental impact are put in place;

d) Establish a trust fund for the rehabilitation of the DRC World Heritage properties;

e) Establish permanent co-operation between the political and military authorities at provincial level, the United Nations Organization Mission in DRC (MONUC) and the authority responsible for the management of the property (ICCN) to eliminate illegal activities in and around the property;

f) In co-operation with the Government of Uganda, halt the illegal trafficking of timber, minerals and ivory across the DRC/Uganda border in north-eastern DRC;

g) Prepare a forest zoning plan for the forest areas adjacent to the property to protect it from negative impacts resulting from unsustainable forest exploitation;

h) Legalize and scale-up the pilot system put in place by ICCN to regulate and monitor immigration as well as traffic on the RN4 road, by means of a permit system with transit charges ;

i) Take the necessary measures to reinforce and reinvigorate the guard force and to improve its efficiency.

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1993-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 28,400
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: First phase of the UNF-and Belgium-funded programme for the Conservation of the DRC World Heritage properties (“DRC programme”). (2001–2005): approximately USD 250,000. Currently, Phase II (2005-2009): USD 300,000.

Previous monitoring missions

1996 and May 2006: UNESCO monitoring missions; several other UNESCO missions in the framework of the DRC programme.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Extensive poaching of large mammals, in particular elephants;

b) Mining activities inside the property;

c) Uncontrolled migration into the villages located within the property;

d) Illegal timber exploitation in the Ituri Forest, which might affect the property in the near future;

e) Planned rehabilitation of the National Road RN4 crossing the property, for which no proper Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

Okapi Wildlife Reserve was inscribed on the List of World Heritage List in Danger in 1997, following the outbreak in 1996 of the Great Lakes conflict with the subsequent establishment of armed bands and rebel groups in the property and the loss of control by ICCN of the greater part of the property, thus encouraging an increase in poaching and in the illegal opening of mining quarries in the property. In 2006, a World Heritage Centre mission visited the property and identified poaching and illegal mining activites as main threats, and also an increase in the population established in the property and the serious impact caused by the rehabilitation of the RN4 road. At its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the World Heritage Committee adopted corrective measures. In 2007, at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), the World Heritage Committee decided (31 COM 7A.32) to apply the newly adopted reinforced monitoring mechanism to the property. At its 32nd session (Quebec, 2008), a new joint World Heritage Centre-IUCN monitoring mission was requested.

On 2 February 2009, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. This report contained information on progress achieved in the implementation of the corrective measures.

The monitoring mission was organised from 24 February to 2 March 2009. Based on the most recent information available, the mission was able to confirm that the extended period of conflict had had a serious negative impact on the values and integrity of the property, and in particular:

- A significant decline in the wildlife population between 1995 and 2006, with a decrease in populations varying between 26% and 59% according to the species, and a reduction of the area of the property available to wildlife. These decreases are the result of armed poaching (hunting and trapping) to supply the bush meat markets in the neighbouring urban centres;

- A significant increase in the resident population in the Reserve (an estimated 4,000 in 1995, and 17,000 recorded in 2003). This influx has caused an increase in the clearing of a greater area of the Reserve for agricultural activities around the villages. In the 1995 Development Plan, a plantation area of 1,800 hectares was foreseen, whereas currently the agricultural area is estimated at 14,000 hectares, 10% of the whole Reserve.

 

The mission concluded that the Outstanding Universal Value for which the Okapi Wildlife Reserve was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger was seriously degraded but that it could be entirely restored if permanent adequate management measures for the Reserve were implemented.

The mission noted that the security situation had improved considerably since 2006 and that some progress in the implementation of the corrective measures had been achieved:

 

a) Ensure the immediate withdrawal of military personnel of the Congolese army involved in poaching, ivory trafficking and illegal mining

Large-scale armed poaching, especially of elephants, has noticeably diminished thanks to joint operations on the part of ICCN / Congolese Army / local administration, eliminating the involvement by the military in this activity in the Reserve and noticeably reducing poaching in the peripheral areas. The problem still exists in the south-west peripheral area of the Reserve where the army, based in the Kisangani military region, remains active.

 

b) Close down and prevent all illegal mining operations inside the property

In 2006, more than fifty quarries for the illegal mining of coltan, diamonds and gold were recorded. Today, all these quarries have been closed down. However, although there is no longer any permanent presence in these quarries, the phenomenon of « infiltration » (irregular visits to some quarries by a small number of diggers generally working independently) persists.

 

c) Suspend the rehabilitation works on the RN4 and carry out a proper Environmental Impact Study

This work has in fact been suspended and a joint mission of donors, administrative officials and construction company visited the site to hold discussions with ICCN. However, the mission did not discuss the most important issues. No environmental impact study has been carried out and concrete mitigation methods advocated by ICCN, such as the strengthening of surveillance and immigration control mechanisms have not been funded. Only some technical operational aspects to limit direct environmental damage caused by the rehabilitation work have received attention.

 

d) Establish a trust fund for the rehabilitation of the DRC World Heritage properties

See the report on Virunga National Park (Document WHC-09/33.COM/7A).

 

e) Establish permanent co-operation between the political and military authorities at provincial level, MONUC, ICCN to eliminate illegal activities in and around the property

The support of politico-administrative and military authorities was a determining factor in regaining control of the entire Okapi Wildlife Reserve. This support was the result of major lobbying and the rapprochement of ICCN with local authorities, together with field visits by the military and administrative authorities, public awareness campaigns via radio and through visits to the villages. Permanent consultation structures officially recognized by the Territory Administration are also established in the six communities of Mambasa. They reinforce the involvement of local communities in the resolution of daily management problems concerning the Reserve on the one hand, and on the other, through financial incentives, they motivate and guide the local population in initiatives of community interest. Nevertheless, it is difficult to judge to what extent these good relations translate into concrete adhesion to the conservation objectives of the property and a real change in behaviour with regard to the use of natural resources.

 

f) In co-operation with the Government of Uganda, halt the illegal trafficking of timber, minerals and ivory across the DRC/Uganda border in north-eastern DRC

The mission noted an increased rate of encroachment through local deforestation in the area outside of the Reserve. Almost all this activity is illegal and the products are transported by road to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. The increase in this pressure is directly linked to the rehabilitation of the RN4. If ivory poaching inside the Okapi Wildlife Reserve now appears to be better controlled, all indicators still show that at the national level poaching of forest elephants in the DRC (to supply the international ivory traffic) remains a major problem. The mission was unable to obtain information on illegal mineral trafficking.

 

g) Prepare a forest zoning plan for the forest areas adjacent to the property to protect it from negative impacts resulting from unsustainable forest exploitation;

No zoning plan is available. The preparation of a zoning plan for the forest areas of the DRC, with support from the World Bank, began in 2005, but no progress has been noted. Meantime, the majority of semi-industrial « artisanal » exploitation which is not in accordance with the Forestry Code, is rapidly progressing in Ituri Forest.

 

h) Legalize and scale-up the pilot system put in place by ICCN to regulate and monitor immigration as well as traffic on the RN4 road, by means of a permit system with transit charges;

The strategy to regulate immigration is based partially on controlling the movement of people and vehicles using the two main entrances to the Reserve on the RN4 and on the permanent monitoring by the Immigration Control Committees (CCI), of persons residing in the villages located alongside the road. The impact of the immigration regulation mechansim is positive. The gates enable ICCN to strengthen its role of site manager and that of the CCI to encourage an increase in the level of compliance of villagers to conservation objectives, to limit misunderstandings and further settlements in the villages. However, since the rehabilitation of the RN4, traffic has increased by a factor of 25. This important increase implies additional constraints with regard to efficient control of vehicles and passengers, considering the limited resources (staff, budget) and the fact that ICCN, not authorized to close the gates at night, is under the obligation to maintain around-the-clock teams at the gates. The financial sustainability of the control system is also compromised by the impossibility of enforcing payment of the toll.

 

i) Take measures to reinforce and reinvigorate the guard force and to improve its efficiency;

The mission noted a clear improvement in the surveillance mechanism. Contrary to the situation in 2006, patrols have access to the entire property and an efficient patrol monitoring system is established and operational. Regular overflights enable the monitoring of areas of difficult access, the state of forest clearing and to detect infiltration in the closed-down quarries. However, trapping and snaring to supply the bush meat market remains very widespread throughout the Reserve.

 

In order to consolidate the encouraging progress achieved by ICCN and its partners in the preservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, the mission formulated a series of recommendations that update the corrective measures adopted by the Committee in 2006, and which are integrated into the draft decision.

Prior to the preparation of the mission, the World Heritage Centre prepared, in consultation with ICCN, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value which was then discussed and improved during the mission. Based on this draft, the mission prepared with the managers and partners of the property, a proposal defining the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. It comprises eight indicators intended to measure the restoration of the biological values of the property, integrity and management:

- Restoration of the biological value: these indicators shall concern the forestry cover (no increase in deforestation) and the indications of increases in wildlife (positive changes in indications concerning the different species and the different zones of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve)

- Integrity and management: these indicators shall concern surveillance efforts (intensity, distribution) the level of illegal activity and the legal definition of an integrated protective area as well as the stabilisation of demographic pressure in the Reserve in relation to its current level.

 

The mission considered that if security conditions remain in place, and if the efforts for the implementation of the corrective measures continue, the achievement of these indicators could be attained in three years.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are satisfied with the progress made in the implementation of the corrective measures. The re-establishment of security has enabled the start of the rehabilitation of the property. Nevertheless, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property has seriously been degraded since its inscription on the World Heritage List, with very large-scale reduction of the threatened species that justified this inscription. Consequently, it is necessary to continue efforts to achieve the regeneration of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the implementation of the eight indicators proposed by the mission would enable the identification of a tendency showing progress in this regeneration process. These indicators should be achieved before the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger can be envisaged.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN therefore consider that the property should be maintained on the List of World Heritage in Danger. However, in view of the progress achieved in the implementation of the corrective measures and improvement in the security situation, they consider that it is no longer necessary to apply the reinforced monitoring mechanism to this property.

To ensure the monitoring of these indicators, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that before end-2010, a study should be carried out to develop the methodology to be used for the 2010 inventory enabling the evaluation of tendencies in the populations of the species.

 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7A.31

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7A.31, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Regrets that the State Party has not yet proposed a new date for the high level meeting requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) and urges the State Party to set a date for this meeting as soon as possible in consultation with the Office of the Director General of UNESCO, the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee and the President of IUCN;

4. Welcomes the continued commitment of MONUC to develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the protected area authority to improve cooperation for the conservation of the properties and also urges the State Party to follow up on this proposal, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;

5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to adopt a comprehensive approach involving the different relevant Ministries to address the urgent threats to the five World Heritage properties situated within the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular in relation to the outstanding issues such as the cancellation of mining and oil exploration and exploitation concessions, the relocation of the Nyaleke army camp, and the measures required to address illegal occupation of the Kahuzi-Biega corridor;

6. Also recalls its request to the State Party and the international community to raise international awareness and promote the implementation of the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee and particularly the proposed corrective measures.

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7A.8

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7A.8, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Taking note of the conclusion of the mission that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property has been seriously degraded but that the security conditions are now in place to enable a beginning of the regeneration of the values and integrity of the property, congratulates the State Party for the progress achieved in this respect and encourages it to continue its efforts;

4. Considers that the indicators that describe the desired state of conservation and measure the restoration of the biological values of the property, its integrity and management, as established by the joint 2009 monitoring mission in co-operation with the management authority, must be reached to enable the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

5. Also takes note of the efforts made by the State Party and the management authority in the implementation of the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006);

6. Urges the State Party to implement the corrective measures as updated by the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring in 2009, to restore the Outstanding Universal Value of the property:

a) Continue efforts to resolve problems concerning the FARDC military involved in large-scale poaching in the south-west peripheral area of the property,

b) Officially cancel all the artisanal mining rights as well as those, encroaching the property, granted by the mining cadastre;

c) Take measures to mitigate impacts linked to the increase in traffic in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, and in particular secure the necessary technical and financial means to contribute towards the implementation of the system to control immigration and strengthen the surveillance and anti-poaching mechanism;

d) Finalise and approve the management plan for the property, with the creation of an integrally protected zone with national park status;

e) Integrate the activities of the Immigration Control Committees (CCI) and the Local Committee for Monitoring and Conservation of Nature (CLSCN) in the management activities of the subsistence areas (agricultural and hunting areas), for which management modalities should be indicated in the management plan;

f) Legalise and upscale the pilot system to regulate and monitor immigration and traffic on the RN4, and secure the right to close the RN4 to traffic at night and to establish a toll system;

g) Continue efforts to strengthen and reinvigorate the surveillance mechanism and render it more effective;

h) Request the State Party to halt illegal trafficking of timber, minerals and ivory across its north-eastern border;

i) Prepare and implement a zoning plan for forest areas adjacent to the property in order to protect it from the negative impact of unsustainable exploitation of the forest;

7. Requests the State Party to ensure the monitoring of the indicators describing the desired state of conservation and undertake, before the end of 2010, a study to prepare the methodology to be used for the 2012 inventory to enable the monitoring of any increases in wildlife numbers. The State may wish to request assistance from the World Heritage Fund for this purpose;

8. Also requests the State Party to submit the draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value as well as the draft desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, based on the proposals developed during the monitoring mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a report on the state of conservation of the property, in particular on progress accomplished in the implementation of the corrective measures and the other recommendations of the 2009 mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

10. Decides, in view of progress achieved in the implementation of the corrective measures and the improvement of the security situation, to no longer apply the reinforced monitoring mechanism to this property;

11. Also decides to retain Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 33 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-09/33.COM/7A, WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add and WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC-09/33.COM/7A.Corr),

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