At its 29th session (Durban, 2005), the World Heritage Committee requested the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to undertake a mission to the Dja Faunal Reserve to monitor the state of conservation of the property and to review the threats to its integrity, in particular from hunting and deforestation, as well as from mining in the area adjacent to the property. A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission was undertaken in 2006 and recommended phasing out of forest operational permits adjacent to the property, and ensuring that the highest environmental standards are applied in all mining concessions outside but near to the property. At its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to report on progress in implementation of the recommendations of the joint 2006 World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission.
On 4 April 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report provides some information on the implementation of the recommendations of the missionand on progress made in implementing the decision of the World Heritage Committee.
a) Management Plan and financial autonomy
The State Party confirmed that the management plan of the property had been approved in October 2007 and launched in November 2008. The State Party reported that the European Union-funded ECOFAC programme (Ecosystèmes Forestiers d’Afrique centrale) is providing part of the funding needed to implement the management plan. The State Party has previously reported that ECOFAC IV is funding a feasibility study for the establishment of a sustainable funding mechanism for the property. The strategy and discussion are reportedly underway, but no additional information on progress towards establishing such a mechanism was provided.
b) Establishment of a Conservation Coordination Unit and of village committees for the Reserve
The State Party reports the recruitment of additional staff. Four head of unit positions have been established for ecological monitoring and training, anti-poaching, awareness-raising and development, and administrative and financial services. The State Party reports that equipment is being provided to the property, including five vehicles, 12 all-terrain motorcycles, and tents and uniforms. In addition, eco-guards receive regular allowances and rations.
However, the State Party did not provide information on the impacts of the law enforcement activities on the state of conservation of the property.
c) Delimiting the boundaries of the property
The report mentions that a process of zoning is planned. Zones will be legally defined in the periphery of the property, including the strictly protected zone, buffer zone and a general use zone of the Biosphere Reserve. GEOVIC mining concession
In 2007, the World Heritage Committee was informed that the State Party had been advised, based on public consultation, to request the GEOVIC mining company to conduct a new wildlife risk assessment as the original assessment underestimated the ecological impacts of the proposed mining activities. The GEOVIC mining concession is outside the property but close to it in the Lomié Sector. The support infrastructure to the mine such as roads and airport could be located adjacent to the property and increase accessibility to the property, resulting in higher levels of threats. The State Party notes that the Ministry of Environment and Forests does not have sole responsibility to ensure a thorough Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of mining projects. The State Party notes that funding is being sought to carry out the assessment. However, no information was provided on the timeframe for the completion of the assessment or the status of activities of GEOVIC, the mining company. Online media reports claim that the infrastructure development for the project is underway and the cobalt ore extraction may begin in 2010. The State Party should provide detailed information on risk reduction of this activity on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property.
d) Activities with neighbouring communities: economic and education
The State Party also recognizes the need for socio-economic development of the communities neighbouring the property to ensure its effective protection. While no information was provided in the State Party’s report on such activities. A number of projects are underway through ECOFAC, and NGO’s such as the Dja Periphery Community Engagement Project implemented by Living Earth Cameroon, with technical assistance from NGOs..The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the report does not give detailed evaluation on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2006 mission, and note limited progress by the State Party to fully implement them. There is also no information provided on the threat noted previously from industrial farming in the buffer zone of the property.
Information is also required on the operations of the mining concessions and associated infrastructure, near the property, and the operations and activities of the GEOVIC mining company. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are extremely concerned about the lack of information needed to evaluate the potential impact of the mining activities on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property, and the possible impacts from other threats.
IUCN also notes the importance of the State Party working more closely with local communities and identify alternative sources of income to those which threaten the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property and its biodiversity in particular.