On 1 February 2007, the State Party submitted a report providing information on progress towards achieving corrective measures adopted by the Committee at its 29th session (Durban, 2005).
In September 2006, the State Party and UNDP, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), launched the project for the “Co-management of natural resources of Aïr-Ténéré and its surrounding areas” (COGERAT). Through this project, the State Party is implementing the corrective measures set by the Committee. The following results are noted in the State Party report on the implementation of the corrective measures:
a) Re-establishing physical presence of the management authority in Iférouane and provide adequate resources to the management authority
Whilst the project coordination unit is established in Agadez, the project established project units in the municipalities adjacent to the park, including in Iférouane. The park warden is also based in Iférouane. The park warden and each head of unit were equipped with a four-wheel drive vehicles and communication equipment. Involvement of the local population in monitoring and surveillance is planned but has yet to take place. The State Party is in the process of increasing forestry personnel to about ten by June 2007. The establishment and enforcement of laws and regulations governing the site and the natural resources is underway.
b) Establish Land Commissions in the four Municipalities and clarify respective land-use and resource access rights for local residents
Following the signature of an agreement between COGERAT and the relevant government authorities, a feasibility study for the establishment of land commissions in Iférouane, Gogaram, Timia, and Tabelot was conducted in November 2006, which will soon allow their establishment in the these four municipalities. The project will also support cooperation between the municipalities and assist with the improvement of the municipal development plans.
c) Significantly improve monitoring and surveillance of the property in order to address poaching and illegal commercial natural resource extraction issues
Between August and December 2006, COGERAT carried out three missions together with the technical department of the regional and local governments as well as representatives of the local communities in order to raise awareness and identify priority actions. As a result, a new strategy for anti-poaching and fighting against illegal resource extraction in the Reserve was developed. For 2007, the project will organise regular large-scale missions together with the region’s security forces funded jointly by the State Party and the project. It is expected that these missions will also raise awareness of the importance of conservation and anti-poaching activities amongst the armed forces.
The State Party reiterates its strong commitment to fight the looting of its cultural and natural heritage. As an example, the report cites the arrest of Western tourists in November 2006, who were trying to export precious stones and fossil artefacts. To better address the looting of cultural relics COGERAT launched a study to produce a national tourism charter.
d) Immediately halt all commercial collection of timber and thatch from the property
The State Party report confirms that efforts are underway to address this issue. The 6 year objectives of the COGERAT project are to reduce the illegal exploitation of natural resources within and around the Reserve, including timber and thatch, by 50% and to reduce wood consumption in the urban centres in the region by 15%. To achieve this, COGERAT together with the regional environmental services are planning to set up local management structures. On the basis of a study to clarify land use and resource access rights, sustainable management systems for timber and thatch are expected to be put in place in 2007.
e) Initiate soil and vegetation stabilization actions to control soil erosion, and measures to reduce corollary destabilization of soils by motorized traffic
Combating soil erosion and restoring degraded lands are major objectives of the COGERAT project. The innovative approach of the project is based on the development of a system of co-management of the natural resources between the government and the local municipalities in the 20 million ha area covered by the project. Its 6 year objectives include the restoration of 55.000 ha of degraded lands and the sustainable management by the municipalities and the local communities of further 100.000 ha land. So far COGERAT carried out 7 studies on improving the agro-sylvi-pastoral farming systems and combating land degradation. This enabled the project to identify pilot sites within the Reserve and its surrounding areas. Soil and land restoration activities in the pilot sites are planned for 2007.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the start of the COGERAT project, which is expected to greatly assist the State Party with the implementation of the corrective measures in order to address the threats to the integrity and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. Given the extent of these threats, it will take time before the project will be able to positively impact them.
The State Party report did not provide any further information on the status of resources or trends in resource use, such as data on populations and distribution of threatened species, levels of poaching, the extent and degree of wood and thatch harvesting. These data will be important to clearly follow up the progress made towards the benchmarks set up for a future removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.