On 1st February 2008, the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe submitted a joint progress report on implementing the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee. It also included a joint draft Statement of outstanding universal value, a statement of integrity, status of management of the values of the property, ecosystem status and management, and cultural conservation policy.
Activities under the Institutional Framework and Legal Cooperation Programme have been largely implemented, with the remaining harmonisation of laws between the two States Parties planned for completion in 2008. The Tourism Development Programme is partially completed with outstanding activities including: upgrading of signage, implementation of visitor centre renovation plans, review of carrying capacities, rehabilitation of pathways, facilities improvement at the rainforest entrance and car park, and establishing entrance fees for the rainforest. In the Resource Conservation Programme, ongoing activities include: eradication of invasive species, updating the existing flora and fauna database and, for the cultural sites, preparation of an inventory of archaeological sites, controlling illegal activities, and controlling sewage. The States Parties have yet to ensure land use compatibility within the property therefore potential inappropriate tourism and other developments pose a threat.
The States Parties also described their progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2006 monitoring mission:
a) Establishment of a Joint Ministerial Committee
The States Parties have established a Joint Ministerial Committee which provides policy guidelines and direction to the Joint Technical Committee. The Joint Ministerial Committee comprises six ministries from Zambia and five from Zimbabwe and met once in 2007. The Joint Technical Committee reviews progress in implementation of the joint management plan, reports on the conservation status of the property, and identifies projects for implementation. There is a third committee, the Joint Site Management Committee, which addresses problems and the site level and supports the Joint Technical Committee.
b) Implementation of the joint integrated management plan for the World Heritage property and secure funding for its implementation.
The Victoria Falls World Heritage site joint management plan was approved by both States Parties in November 2007. In Zambia, the joint management plan is supported through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park general management plan. In Zimbabwe, the joint management plan is mainly supported by Victoria Falls / Zambezi National Park management plan. Efforts are still underway to secure adequate funding for its effective implementation.
c) Moratorium on the construction and development of all tourism infrastructure, facilities or services within the World Heritage property
As the Joint Ministerial Committee has been established and the joint management plan approved, the moratorium on development has now been lifted. Development of tourism facilities will be restricted to the Low Ecologically Sensitive Zone after going through an Environmental Impact Assessment. The States Parties did not provide any information on any new tourism developments. The States Parties also reported that planned developments include construction of ablution blocks, completion of a car park, extension of administration offices and the curio centre, and improved signage. However tourism planning continues to be a challenge due to rapidly increasing visitation over the last three years in Zambia.
d) Development of a draft Desired state of conservation which can be assessed during the monitoring of the property’s state of conservation and better address management and protection concerns
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN notes that guidelines for developing Statements of outstanding universal value will be made available after the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008 and so all statements should be reviewed and finalised by the State Party in collaboration with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre.
e) Threats to the property
- Urban development:
The States Parties did not report on the management of urban development. The State Party of Zambia reported its plans to resurface the road to the property to improve tourism in Livingstone, in Zambia, for which the State Party intends to keep the World Heritage Committee informed.
- Eradication of invasive species:
The State Party of Zambia noted that Lantana Camara continues to be a serious threat to the integrity of the property, displacing endemic multi-species plant communities with single species communities in the core and buffer zones of the property. Lantana Camara is also destabilizing the walls of the gorge, which poses a risk for visitor safety. The State Party of Zambia has cleared 50% of the areas affected and some regeneration of native plant species has been observed. However, restrictions on the number of visitors in certain areas are also being used to reduce the threat of introducing more invasive species. Furthermore, Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is funding a project through United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and with technical support of IUCN and Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International (CABI) of Nairobi to develop better methods of controlling invasive species. The two States Parties are collaborating and discussing using the same eradication methods.
- Control of pollution and extraction of water from the Zambezi :
The State Party of Zambia reported on plans for consolidation of sewerage oxidation ponds and that water supply organisations have conducted water quality tests. No information was provided on the frequency or results of these tests or on extraction of water from the Zambezi River.
The States Parties identified the following management challenges as emerging threats facing the property:
a) Threats to fish population integrity from the fish disease Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome;
b) Inadequate capacity for research and monitoring;
c) Expanding human population in Livingstone and Victoria Falls towns, as it impacts directly on the ecosystem. Furthermore, Livingstone and Victoria Falls infrastructure cannot adequately cope with the high population density, increasing the scope for pollution within the environs of the property;
d) Uncontrolled influx of haulage trucks through the property affecting its aesthetic value;
e) Control of the Lantana camara on the steep slopes remains a problem as these areas are difficult to access.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN notes efforts made by the States Parties to implement the World Heritage Committee Decisions, in particular by preparing and approving the Joint Management plan in November 2007. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note the progress of the States Parties to improve transboundary cooperation and are concerned that further progress is constrained by limited funding. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN urge the States Parties and international community to provide sufficient funding for the effective management of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note with concern that no information was provided on measures to control urban development and on management of water flows in the Zambezi River.