From 2 to 9 June 2007, a joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission visited the property. The findings and recommendations of this mission were presented orally at the 31st session (Christchurch, 2007). This report and its recommendations are available online http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2007.
The mission considered that the property is at a critical stage in its development and noted the lack of financial and human resources while at the same time management challenges are increasing. The significant financial resources that were available during the period 1994 to 2004 as a result of the previous Revenue Retention Scheme have not continued. The reinstatement of this scheme would greatly aid in providing revenue essential to the effective management of the property.
Issues related to the development of tourism were noted: rapid development of the tourism sector in northern Selous and unplanned tourism developments outside Selous at the entrance gates Matambwe and Mtemere are placing increased demands on both infrastructure and staff.
The mission also expressed concern about the lack of information on the hunting activities and therefore concluded it was unable to do a full assessment of the impact of hunting activities on the state of conservation of the property. While the general management plan has now been approved, it will be important for the World Heritage Committee to monitor its implementation. There have also been serious delays in the implementation of the 1998 Tanzanian Wildlife Policy, which includes important provisions to allow for community management of wildlife resources. This is important for the livelihoods of the communities living around the reserve. The mission was further informed that while a number of applications had been submitted for the exploration of minerals and hydrocarbons, these had not been approved but that other Government departments continued to put pressure to allow exploration in the game reserves. In addition, two potential dam projects were being considered, with major potential implications on the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property.
The mission developed a number of recommendations to address these issues. The key recommendations were included in decision 31 COM 7B.3.
No report on the State of Conservation of the property or on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 mission was received from the State Party at the time of preparation of this document. Furthermore, the State Party did not submit the Environmental Impact Assessment for the dam projects requested since the 30th session.
However, The World Heritage Centre and IUCN received some information from a number of other sources on the State of Conservation of the property.
Hunting and poaching remain a serious concern. According to the information received, the numbers of tourist and hunting camps may be increasing despite the stress on infrastructure, management capacity and planning. A game reserve officer was reported to have been killed in May 2008 by a gang believed to be involved in game poaching. Further investigation is required to provide an understanding of the networks of poachers and the flows of poached products.
At recent meetings of the African Wildlife Consultative Forum (November 2007), which is a regular meeting among the Directors of Wildlife, there was a strong assertion that Tanzania needed to become far more proactive in the development of norms and standards and a Code of Conduct for hunting following concerns about the increase in trophy hunting coupled with a decline in trophy quality. IUCN encourages the State Party to monitor and report on the numbers of hunters, their take and associated revenue. At its last session, the Committee has already requested a further World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission to review the management and operations of the hunting activities in the Selous Game Reserve during the dry season in 2008/2009. The mission should visit in particular the southern hunting sector of the Selous, which has most of the wildlife and provides the vast majority of the revenues of the reserve.
The Selous-Niassa wildlife corridor is a landscape-scale conservation initiative between the Selous and the Niassa Game Reserve of Mozambique, the two largest elephant ranges of the world. The entire corridor is threatened by poaching for meat and ivory, habitat degradation due to wildfires and likely agricultural expansion. Unchecked, these processes will ultimately prevent the movement of wildlife populations between the Selous Game Reserve and Niassa Game Reserve, and the maintenance of the corridor is thus important to maintain the integrity of the property. The potential role of the World Heritage Convention in providing support to the wildlife corridor should be explored during the monitoring mission to the hunting areas of the property.
The property does not currently have a Statement of outstanding universal value and it is recommended that one should be developed by the State Party in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to provide a basis for the future monitoring of the state of conservation of the property. The State Party is encouraged to consult the relevant specialist groups of the IUCN Species Survival Commission to assess status of the key species of the property.
The State Party has not clarified the status of the dam projects. From other sources, it is understood that a Strategic Environmental Assessment was undertaken in 2007 by the World Bank, as part of the preparation Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sewerage Project. This ranked a dam at Kidunda as one of two highest ranking options amongst 26 evaluated, but noted that it would “induce some flooding of the ecologically sensitive Selous Game reserve and require that a small number of inhabitants (300 – 400) be resettled involuntarily.” A World Bank study has also noted that the relative financial costs for the different alternative scenarios have yet to be finalized, and the choice of water supply options has yet to be made. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN request the State Party to clarify the status and potential impacts of these projects on the values and integrity of the property.
With regard to mining, IUCN and the World Heritage Centre have received information that prospecting for uranium is presently carried out on large scale by two companies from Australia within the property and the Selous Niassa Wildlife Corridor, with equipment brought in and camps developed. The 2007 monitoring mission was not informed about this and no environmental and social impact assessments were submitted by the State Party. On May 30, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party, requesting information on the status and location of this prospecting.
Further information was received on a project to upgrade the Tunduru-Songea Road to the south of the property. The road would ensure access to agricultural fertile areas and areas rich in mineral resources and also facilitate access to the southern part of the property. No information has been provided by the State Party on the status of the road project and the resulting environmental impacts. The planned monitoring mission should look into this issue and associated developments.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are very concerned that no State Party report was received, given the need to urgently implement the recommendations of the 2007 mission and the numerous reports on increasing potential and existing pressures from various development projects mentioned above.
In view of the issues related to tourism, uranium prospecting, community benefits, visitor management and sustainable finance, the State Party may wish to consider hosting a workshop on natural World Heritage in Tanzania. Such a workshop could serve to aid capacity building, and to strengthen partnerships between agencies, NGOs and World Heritage managers in Tanzania. IUCN could provide technical assistance for such a workshop.