From 10 to 23 June 2006, a UNESCO-IUCN monitoring mission visited the property. The results of the mission were presented orally to the 30th session of the Committee and a summary is provided here.
The mission confirmed that the State Party controls only 20% of the property, with 15% under the control of the UN peacekeeping force and the remainder under the control of rebel forces. The mission identified poaching as the major threat together with illegal exploitation of the Park, particularly for agriculture. However, the mission noted that the Outstanding Universal Value for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List was still present. Most of the basic park infrastructure and equipment had been destroyed and a joint patrol mechanism for the entire park needed to be established with assistance of the UN peacekeeping force. The mission developed a number of recommendations, some of which were adopted by the Committee as corrective measures and proposed an action plan with timelines.
The State Party submitted a report on 23 January 2007. The report reaffirms some of the information on the State of conservation of the property included in the report of the 2006 monitoring mission and provides a brief update on progress in implementing the adopted corrective measures.
a) Establish an effective system of control and patrolling for the whole property
Following the recommendations by the mission, discussions are now underway with PNDDR (National Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation Department) to identify guards in the villages surrounding the park who could act as eco-guards with the responsibility of conducting monitoring and surveillance. However, so far, there is no functioning law enforcement system in the areas not controlled by the State Party. As for the southern part managed by the State Party, funding is being sought to support a squad of 24 agents, and to train guards from the communities neighboring the park.
b) Develop and initiate the implementation of a management plan for the property, including a zonation of the property and participatory management arrangements with local communities to reduce pressures and impacts
The management authority OIPR (Ivorian Parks and Reserves Authority) has started drafting the management plan. The definition of zones, management units, and management roles will be developed through a workshop of stakeholders involved in the area surrounding the park. It is, however, not entirely clear if it will include the areas not controlled by the Government. No further progress was reported on the recommendation of 2006 mission to clarify the legal framework and harmonize the statutes and related zoning boundaries for the property as a Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage property, and a National Park.
c) Enlarge the activities of the management structure to encompass the entire property
No progress is reported.
d) Progress on other recommendations of the 2006 IUCN mission:
In accordance with the timeframe proposed by the 2006 mission, the State Party is currently seeking funding to allow for the restoration and to take effective control of the park. A proposal for an emergency plan was drafted and submitted to the German Development Cooperation (KfW/GTZ). OIPR also organized a visit of potential donors (including the German and Norwegian Ambassadors) to the park in November 2006.
In response to the recommendation to establish migration corridors linking the property with protected areas in Burkina Faso and Ghana, IUCN is assisting the State Party with fund raising for the establishment of co-management and conservation of wildlife corridors through its transboundary 3 IC Project ‘Espace Comoé.’ A regional planning meeting was organized in December 2006 with representatives from the State Party, IUCN and Burkina Faso.
The State Party report did not provide population statistics for wildlife in the park though it did state that large mammals have migrated to the core biodiversity zone and to the adjoining countryside. The recent halt of violence in the park has seen a return of elephants, buffaloes, hippopotami and hartebeest in the south. The lack of current ecological data on the park presents a serious challenge to assess the current conservation status of the property and also to ensure effective management planning, zoning and wildlife corridors. However, this is difficult to address while the State Party does not have full control of the property.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN feel that work with the local communities should be a priority. The State Party should focus on building trust and raising awareness among the communities benefiting from the park’s resources. The 2006 monitoring mission identified increasing pressure on the core zone from domestic animals and new farmers, which should be addressed through co-management and clear guidelines on allowable uses. The State Party should establish a formal relationship between the park and the communities bordering the park with the goal of producing an agreement on rights, obligations and possible assistance available to these communities.