The Côte d’Ivoire component of the transboundary Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, inscribed onto the list of World Heritage in Danger, has been awarded a Rapid Response Facility (RRF) small grant to help re-establish the presence of the protected area authority.  Recent civil strife in this country had led to the abandonment of site management offices in the area.  The grant will help repair and re-equip vital park protection infrastructure.   At its last meeting in June 2011, the World Heritage Committee had specifically requested the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to strengthen its management capacity in the property.

This site has a unique geography, rising above the surrounding savannah and consisting of dense forest and mountain pastures. Important fauna here includes endemic viviparous toad species and tool-using chimpanzees. For many years Nimba has been under threat from the bushmeat trade and removal of medicinal plants. Following the Ivorian political crisis that began in 2002, Nimba was also subject to massive infiltration of refugees escaping conflict, and from the resultant exploitation of natural resources.

Recognising the urgency of the threats facing Nimba and following an increase in political stability, the Office Ivoirien des Parcs et Réserves (OIPR) applied for funding from the RRF and is receiving $25,282 to rehabilitate guardrooms at Kouan-Houlé and Yéalé, the closest bases for active management of Nimba. The RRF will ensure that basic equipment, facilities and motorbikes are available quickly for OIPR staff to conduct regular patrols and establish a presence in the World Heritage site.

OIPR will continue to use central government funds to restore managerial capacity in the wider region, which will ensure that the RRF’s contribution is supported in the long term.

Nimba has been inscribed on the natural World Heritage site In Danger list longer than any other natural site, with the exception of Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves in Niger, which was inscribed at the same time. Nimba has been retained on the In Danger list because of a mining concession that falls within the World Heritage site boundaries and pressure from the surrounding areas as a result of refugee movements in both Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.

This is not the first RRF award for OIPR. In 2010 funding was awarded to Comoé National Park, another World Heritage In Danger site, for a stabilisation mission following a period of conflict.

The RRF is an emergency small grant programme that provides rapid support to allow immediate responses to major threats to wildlife conservation, primarily in UNESCO designated natural World Heritage sites. The RRF is financially supported by the United Nations Foundation, Halcyon Land & Sea and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, TripAdvisor and UNESCO.   It aims to process emergency funding requests of up to US $30,000 in just eight working days.

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