1.         Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania) (N 199bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   2014-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/199/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1984-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 67,980
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/199/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 2007 and November 2008: World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring missions.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Poaching;

b) Reduction of elephant populations;

c) Insufficient funding;

d) Mineral and hydrocarbon prospecting and mining;

e) Tourism management and development;

f) Potential and proposed dam development.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/199/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 2 February 2012, the State Party submitted a concise report on the state of conservation of the property. The report provides an overview of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Committee’s decision adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011).

a) Finalize the creation of the autonomous Wildlife Authority and reinstate the Revenue Retention Scheme

The State Party notes that a consulting firm was engaged to facilitate the establishment of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA). This process is now in its final stages. The State Party notes that once TAWA becomes operational, the revenue retention scheme will automatically be reinstated. No timeline for the finalization of the establishment of TAWA is provided.

b) Abandon plans for the different development projects which are incompatible with the World Heritage status of the property, in particular the Stiegler’s Gorge dam, uranium mining and oil exploration inside the property

The State Party expresses its awareness that energy-related developments and their consequences may be incompatible with World Heritage status as they may impact negatively on the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties. It emphasizes that any proposed development project within the property will undergo proper scrutiny as per the Convention and its Operational Guidelines before being allowed to proceed. The State Party notes that the Stiegler’s Gorge dam has been earmarked a major source of hydropower to tackle the on-going power crisis in Tanzania, but that the project is still at the planning stage and that no permit for the commencement of the project has yet been granted. The State Party states that no permit will be granted without a properly conducted Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and prior clearance from the World Heritage Committee.

However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note recent media reports that the Minister of Energy and Minerals announced that the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project will commence in July 2012, and is expected to be commissioned by end 2015. These reports note that the Brazil based company Odebrecht Construction International has already been contracted to implement the project, and that banks based in Brazil will provide part of the required funding. According to the Director General of the Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA), once filled, the reservoir will cover 1,200 km2, or 120,000 ha within the property. This represents 2.4% of the entire property, including two key areas for rhinoceros and key habitat for several other species. Furthermore, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that that the construction of the dam would open up a previously poorly accessible area of the property, which would likely result in secondary impacts such as poaching and illegal resource use.

c) Ensure that the design of the Kidunda dam will not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and avoid flooding part of the property or key wildlife areas on its boundaries

The State Party notes that the proposed Kidunda dam on the edge of the northern sector of the property is considered a major solution to domestic water shortages in many areas of the country. The report stated that the initial stage of the ESIA for this project is currently in progress and that the report of this initial stage is under review by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. The State Party notes that a detailed ESIA will be prepared and incorporate stakeholder recommendations which will be taken into account in the approval process.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that a previous ESIA, dated March 2008 and reviewed by the 2008 World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring mission shows that the dam will impact on ecological systems, may disrupt wildlife corridors, affect reproductive behaviour of aquatic organisms, and impact negatively on other wetland habitats. The ESIA also notes that the dam was redesigned in order to minimize (but not eliminate) impacts on the property and the Gonabis plain, which, according to a 2005 report by the German development cooperation (GIZ), is an important buffer zone for the property and provides habitat for the highest densities of wildebeest, zebras, giraffes and other large herbivores in the whole Selous ecosystem. This report suggests that endangered species such as wild dog, cheetah and rhino are also found in or near the affected area. The 2008 ESIA report also states that the proposed reservoir of 27 km2 will only yield 60 m3 and that a much larger dam covering at least 43 km2 would be necessary to provide the planned 150 m3 capacity, but did not investigate the impacts of this alternative. The new ESIA which is currently under preparation is therefore for a much larger dam and therefore likely to have even more important impacts on the OUV of the property.

d) Enact specific legislation to prohibit prospecting and mining within Selous Game Reserve on the basis of its World Heritage status

The State Party notes that the recent legislative changes that permit mining in Game Reserves countrywide were made in support of development to improve the economy to meet the 2025 Millenium Development Goals (MDG). Considering that mining and mineral resources in Tanzania are among the major pillars for economic growth, the State Party states it has put in place several environmental laws and regulations to regulate major developments within protected areas, including the property. However, no details are provided on what these entail.

e) Develop and implement an emergency plan to strengthen anti-poaching activities in the property in order to cope with the alarming increase in poaching

The State Party reports on its efforts to strengthen anti-poaching and monitoring activities, including through increased joint anti-poaching operations with other law enforcement intitutions, and the implementation of the Tanzania Elephant Management Plan 2010-2015 (TEMP). In addition, 39 new staff have been hired and three new patrol vehicles were purchased to strengthen the Ranger Force, and there are plans for purchasing a helicopter for aerial surveillance in 2012. Furthermore, guidelines for the establishment of a Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU), which will involve all wildlife institutions, have been prepared and are currently awaiting ministerial approval. The State Party is also exploring the use of Geo-Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing to combat poaching.

The TEMP 2010-2015 notes a marked decline in the Selous elephant population, from 50-70,000 in 2006 to 38,975 in 2009. It recognizes that there is firm evidence that illegal killing of elephants in the Selous Ecosystem has increased in recent years: a more than threefold increase in elephant carcasses detected was observed between 2006 and 2008. The TEMP states that an important factor influencing the protection of the elephant population in the property is a marked decrease in funding, as a result of the national budget reductions in 2004, which led to the discontinuation of the Revenue Retention Scheme and a 2 million US dollar reduction in revenue for the property. Recent media reports (January 2012) note that the President of Tanzania, upon reviewing the results of the 2009 survey, ordered an investigation to establish why the number of elephants in the property has been decreasing in recent years.

f) Revise and resubmit the Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Mkuju River uranium mine in line with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommendations prior to granting exploitation permits

From 24 October to 1 November 2011, an advisory mission of independent experts recommended by IUCN visited the property, which undertook a review of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mkuju River uranium mining project (MRP). Based on the review, the State Party submitted a revised EIS to the World Heritage Centre on 31 January 2012. To date, no exploitation permits have been granted. On 31 January 2012, the State Party also submitted a revised proposal for a minor boundary modification for the excision of 41,286 ha of land from the property to accommodate the proposed uranium mine, as well as a buffer zone. This proposal has been evaluated by IUCN, and is discussed further in Document WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B2. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN reciterate that the current proposal for a mine inside the property is incompatible with its World Heritage status, in line with the established position of the World Heritage Committee. IUCN notes that information received from stakeholders suggests that an illegal road has been partly constructed through the Undendeule Forest, which is proposed by the State Party for addition to the property as partial compensation for the development of the proposed mine.

g) Other conservation issues – the Selous-Niassa Corridor, oil exploration

In its report on the state of conservation of the property, the State Party acknowledges that the Selous-Niassa Corridor is a fundamental part of the Selous Ecosystem and notes that wildlife corridors have legal recognition under the Wildlife Act of 2009. The State Party provides a concise list of measures taken to protect the Selous-Niassa Corridor. These include: i) land use planning and capacity building among communities within the corridor in order to achieve best land use practice and protection of the environment, ii) alternative livelihood projects, improvement of infrastructure and training of Village Scouts for the management of Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), iii) establishment of five WMAs to date within the Selous-Niassa Corridor, where natural resources are managed by local people, and iv) international cooperation with Mozambique to enhance conservation within the corridor. The State Party also notes that wildlife corridors throughout the country are being identified and delineated, after which guidelines will be developed, although it is not clear what type of guidelines are envisaged.

In relation to oil exploration within the property boundaries, the State Party notes that it is pursuing a sustainable development approach, and will base its decisions on ESIA reports and secure a thorough implementation of the proposed mitigation measures on identified impacts. A recent media article advises that Dominion Petroleum relinquished the oil production sharing agreement for Selous, which it had signed with Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation more than ten years ago. However, the State Party did not mention this in its report, nor has it made a commitment to not permit any oil exploration within the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall the Committee’s established position that oil exploration and exploitation is not compatible with World Heritage status.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are of the view that multiple threats are affecting the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, including high levels of wildlife poaching (particularly of elephants), the evident deterioration in management, and the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge and Kidunda dam which, if approved, are likely to cause serious and irreversible damage to the property’s OUV. 

They recall that the Committee, in Decision 35 COM 7B.6, had urged the State Party to implement a number of actions in order to protect the property’s OUVs. These actions included reinstating the Revenue Retention Scheme in order to increase the level of funding available to the property to address wildlife poaching, finalizing the creation of an autonomous Wildlife Authority to strengthen management, and abandoning plans for dams, oil exploration and mining inside the property which are incompatible with its World Heritage status. The Committee also urged the State Party to ensure that the design of the Kidunda dam will not affect the property’s OUV and avoid flooding part of the property or key wildlife areas on its boundaries.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the reported progress towards creating an autonomous Wildlife Authority which would automatically reinstate the Revenue Retention Scheme. They note reports that the project for the Stiegler Gorge dam may commence in July 2012 and draw the Committee’s attention to the likelihood that the Stiegler’s Gorge dam would flood large areas of the property, damage important habitats for threatened species and lead to secondary impacts such as increased poaching. They recommend that the Committee request the State Party to clarify the status of this dam during the course of its 36th session (Saint Petersburg, 2012).

Concerning oil exploration, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that while Dominion Petroleum has relinquished its oil production sharing agreement for Selous, oil exploration and exploitation remains a potential threat to the property.

They also recommend that the Committee reiterate any dam construction, mining or oil exploration inside the property would constitute a clear basis for the property’s inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

They also recall that the property’s legal protection regime was weakened in 2009 following revisions to the Wildlife Act which provided provisions for mining within game reserves. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee reiterate the importance of enacting specific legislation to prohibit prospecting and mining within Selous Game Reserve on the basis of its World Heritage status.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.5

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.6, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.  Reiterates its utmost concern about the multiple threats affecting the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including high levels of wildlife poaching (particularly of elephants), the evident deterioration in management, and the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge and Kidunda dams which, if approved, are likely to cause serious and irreversible damage to the property’s OUV;

4.  Takes note of the statement by the State Party on the protection and the conservation of the Selous Game Reserve;

5.  Considers that the approval of any dam, mining or oil exploration within the property would constitute a clear basis for its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and urges the State Party to abandon plans for the different development projects which are incompatible with the World Heritage status of the property;

6.  Notes with satisfaction that Dominion Petroleum has relinquished its oil production sharing agreement for Selous, but deems that oil exploration and exploitation remain a threat to the property and also urges the State Party to make a clear commitment to not explore for or exploit oil within the property, in line with the Committee’s established position that such developments are incompatible with World Heritage status, and to enact specific legislation to prohibit prospecting, oil developments and mining within the property on the basis of its World Heritage status;

7.  Further urges the State Party to implement the remaining actions requested by the Committee in Decision 35 COM 7B.6, in order to ensure the protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, in particular:

a)  Finalize the creation of the autonomous Wildlife Authority and reinstate the Revenue Retention Scheme,

b)  Ensure that the design of the Kidunda dam will not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and avoid flooding part of the property or key wildlife areas on its boundaries,

c)   Develop and implement an emergency plan to strengthen anti-poaching activities in the property in order to cope with the alarming increase in poaching,

8.   Also reiterates its encouragement that the State Party provide appropriate protection to the Selous-Niassa Corridor which is becoming progressively fragmented, and considers that its permanent protection as a buffer zone or its inclusion within the property is vital to the long-term integrity of the latter;

9.   Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and on progress in the implementation of anti-poaching measures, the reinstatement of the Revenue Retention Scheme and the creation of an autonomous Wildlife Authority, including confirmation that no permits have been issued for the various development projects within the property under consideration, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 8B.43

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-12/36.COM/8B.Add and WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B2,

2.   Recalling Decisions 33 COM 7B.8, 34 COM 7B.3, 35 COM 7B.6 and 35 COM 8B.46;

3.   Reiterates that the modifications to boundaries of World Heritage properties that are related to mining activities have to be dealt with through the procedure for significant modifications of boundaries, in accordance with para. 165 of the Operational Guidelines given the potential impact of such projects on the Outstanding Universal Value;

4.   Takes note and regrets that the State Party did not submit the application as a significant but as a minor boundary modification on 1 February 2011 as stated in Decision 35 COM 8B.46;

5.   Considers that through the referral process a completed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted which demonstrates that the impact of the mining project on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is limited and can be mitigated;

6.   Recalls in particular the commitments made by the State Party at the 35th session of the Committee to secure and enhance the continued effectiveness of the Selous-Niassa corridor as a key feature to maintaining the long-term integrity of the property, as well as to make proposals for the inclusion into the property of additional land to the effect of further maintaining and enhancing the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

7.   Considering the reiteration of the commitments of the State Party to the protection and conservation of the property, as stated in the letter of the State Party received on 1 July 2012, requests it to:

a)   Provide additional valuable wildlife forest area to compensate for the excised area of Selous Game Reserve for inclusion into the property to the effect of further maintaining and enhancing the OUV of the property,

b)   Ensure enhanced and effective protection of the Selous-Niassa corridor,

c)   Not to engage in any mining activity within the Selous Game Reserve World Heritage property after exclusion of the Mkuju River Mining site as per the decision of the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee,

d)   Ensure that the investors contribute to the Protection Fund (provided for in the Wildlife Conservation Act N°5 of 2009),

e)   Complete the process of establishing a Tanzanian Wildlife Authority by November 2013 which will ensure 100% retention scheme for the management of the Selous Game Reserve,

f)    Not to undertake any development activities within Selous Game Reserve, and its buffer zone without prior approval of the World Heritage Committee in accordance with the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention;

8.   Decides in an exceptional and unique manner to approve the proposed boundary modification of the Selous Game Reserve, United Republic of Tanzania;

9.   Urges the State Party to ensure:

a)   That the environmental management and monitoring plan is implemented,

b)   that economic and social needs of the local population and workers are respected and that social conditions in and around the Selous Game Reserve, in particular linked to the Mkuju River Mining site, are subject to monitoring, and

c)   that the mining activity and processing of the uranium is carried out corresponding to state of the art international standards in adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rules governing the processing of uranium materials,

10.   Further urges the State Party to submit before 1 February 2013 a proposal for the extension of the property to strengthen the integrity in the context of the greater Selous ecosystem;

11.   Further reminds the State Party of its obligations to ensure that all measures to address the impact of the approved boundary modification to the property identified in the environmental impact assessment are timely and properly implemented to assure that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is maintained and effectively protected;

12.   Requests the State Party to submit a progress report by 1 February 2013 on the implementation of this decision for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.