State of Conservation (SOC)
Okapi Wildlife Reserve
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Ap proved: 23,000USD
|1999||Support to Resident Staff of Garamba, Virunga, Kahuzi Biega ...||20,000 USD|
|1993||Preparatory assistance for the Okapi Wildlife Natural Reserve||3,000 USD|
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Military conflict
- Looting of the facilities
- Godl mining
Current conservation issues
International assistance: Virunga National Park: US$ 20,000 for equipment under emergency assistance and US$ 9,500 for staff training. Garamba National Park: US$ 77,845 for equipment under emergency assistance and US$ 50,000 for equipment under technical co-operation. Kahuzi Biega National Park: US$ 44, 848 for equipment under technical co-operation. Okapi Wildlife Reserve – US$ 3,000 for the preparation of the nomination dossier of the site. At its twenty-first session (Naples, 1997), the Committee, in response to a request for emergency assistance of US$ 88,400 for the purchase of one four-wheel drive vehicle for each of the four sites, approved US$ 45,000 intended to benefit any two of the four sites. The two vehicles purchased by the Centre using the US$ 45,000 in early 1998 could not be delivered to the sites due to lack of security and have, since then, been in storage in Nairobi, Kenya. The Bureau, at its twenty-third ordinary session (5 –10 July 1999), requested the Centre to negotiate with the UN Resident Representative, and the WWF and UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya, to transfer the two vehicles to Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Parks of Tanzania. Following negotiations between the Centre, WWF, UNDP and the Kenyan authorities, it has been estimated that the costs of storage of the two vehicles in Kenya, for more than a year, and clearance and transport costs would total approximately US$ 20,000. As authorised by the twenty-third session of the Bureau, the Chairperson approved US$ 20,000 to pay for the storage, clearance and transport charges. The Centre, in co-operation with WWF is in the process of arranging for the transfer of the two vehicles to Tanzania.
Progress in this regard will reported at the time of the twenty-third session of the Committee (please refer to paragraphs IV.3 and VII.9 of Working Document WHC99/CONF.209/4 for further details).
At its last session (Kyoto, Japan, 1998), the Committee had requested the Centre and IUCN to consult with ICCN and conservation NGOs working in the DRC and estimate the cost of paying allowances to staff at Virunga National Park as an interim measure and submit a proposal for emergency assistance for consideration by the twenty-third session of the Bureau in 1999. The conservation NGOs, ICCN, concerned bilateral organisations (GTZ (Germany)), IUCN and UNESCO met in April 1999 (in Naivasha, Kenya) and again at thetime of the twenty-third session of the Bureau in July 1999, to discuss the state of conservation of the World Heritage sites of DRC and the implementation of the recommendation made by the last session of the Committee. Discussions during these two meetings revealed that staff in all the four World Heritage sites in Danger urgently needed assistance. The Director-General of ICCN informed the twenty-third session of the Bureau that his office in Kinshasa no longer has direct access to the four sites and requested the Bureau and the Committee to help the staff in the four sites by providing assistance through the conservation NGOs and other partners who had field presence in the four sites. In response to requests submitted by ICCN in co-operation with the conservation NGOs and other partners, the Bureau approved a total sum of US$ 105,000 for the four sites. These funds are being disbursed via contracts established with conservation NGOs and partners as follows:
(i) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - Virunga National Park to pay, for the period of six months between July and December 1999, salaries of 500 persons at the Rwindi and the Mutsora Field Stations and salary supplements to selected staff who are active in anti-poaching surveillance operations (US$ 35,000);
(ii) International Rhino Foundation (IRF) - Garamba National Park to pay, for the period of six months between July and December 1999, salaries of approximately 238 persons and additional salary supplements to selected staff who are active in anti-poaching surveillance operations (US$ 30,000);
(iii) To the GTZ(Germany)/ICCN Project – Kahuzi Biega National Park to purchase equipment essential for patrolling and surveillance operations of guards; i.e. 100 patrolling gear, 8 walkie-talkies, 15 large and 15 small tents and local travel, transport and miscellaneous expenses (US$ 20,000); and
(iv) Gilman International Conservation (GIC) -Okapi Faunal Reserve for staff training and guard camp construction activities (US$ 20,000).
Progress with regard to the implementation of these projects will be reported at the time of the twenty-third session of the Committee.
Summary of previous deliberations:
Twenty-second session of the Committee – paragraph number VII.4. Twenty-third session of the Bureau – paragraph numbers IV.3 and VII.19.
New information: A letter dated 6 August 1999 addressed to the Director-General of UNESCO from the Chief of the Department of Rural Development of DRC, described the situation in the four sites as an ecological catastrophe due to intensive poaching of gorillas, elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, hippopotamus, okapis, rhinoceros and other species of wildlife and uncontrolled and systematic deforestation. Reports received by IUCN also confirm that poaching threats continue in all four sites; however, IUCN has received some reports that have observed some reduction in encounters between rangers and poachers in Garamba National Park over the last year. The Centre received from the UNESCO Office in New York a copy of a letter, dated 28 June 1999, from the Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the President of the UN Security Council (Security Council reference S/1999/733 of 29 June 1999). This letter denounced, amongst others, the violation of international environmental law and the threats posed to the protected areas of the DRC by war, particularly in the eastern parts of the country. The Centre in co-operation with UNESCO's Office for External Relations, will attempt to obtain information on the outcome of the deliberations of the Security Council on this subject and report to the Committee at the time of its twenty-third session.
As requested by the Bureau, the Centre and IUCN have co-operated with the Task Force, established at the meeting in Naivasha, Kenya, in April 1999, and comprising conservation NGOs, ICCN and the GTZ to develop a project for supporting the World Heritage sites of DRC despite the continuing period of armed conflict. The Task Force representatives, in consultation with the Centre, the UNESCO Division of Ecological Sciences and IUCN elaborated a 4-year project expected to cost about US$ 4 million. The project primarily focuses on: (a) specific and collaborative support to the four sites, including the payment of salaries and salary supplements linked to performance of anti-poaching and surveillance duties; (b) raising awareness and support of international and regional diplomatic and political communities dealing with conflict in DRC and in neighbouring countries to the conservation of the sites; (c) disseminating information of the critical role that the site staff is playing in the protection of the sites despite risks to their lives and property, and develop sustainable financing mechanisms to support the staff and the conservation of the sites; and (d) identify, document and disseminate lessons learnt in the conservation of the four sites in the DRC to improve preparedness of the international community to meet conservation problems of World Natural Heritage properties in regions of armed conflict. The project has been submitted by UNESCO to the consideration of the United Nations Foundation (UNF). The decision of the UNF Board of Governors on financing for the project will be known in early November 1999. If approved as requested, nearly US$ 3 of the US$ 4 million would derive from UNF sources with the rest being generated by Task Force members, UNESCO and IUCN via other sources. The Centre will report on the UNF Board’s decision on the project at the time of the twenty-third session of the Committee.
Analysis and Conclusion
Link to the decision
The Bureau examined specific requests for international assistance and took the following decisions.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - "Training for Nomination of Natural and Mixed Properties as World Heritage in Central Asia" (Training Assistance) - US$ 29,440 requested
The Bureau approved an amount of US$ 29,440 from the natural heritage training funds for this project, subject to the WWF Russia Programme (WWF-PRO) confirming, before 31 October 1999, that it has been successful in raising the balance of US$ 29,900 needed for the implementation of the project.
The Bureau also recommended that WWF-PRO submit to the World Heritage Centre, a list of organisations providing cash and in-kind contributions to meet the balance of US$ 29,900 needed for the project and a full list of the central Asian participants to be involved in the implementation of the project.
Regional - "Asia Pacific Training Workshop on Integrated Conservation and Development Planning: the role of Multilateral Agreements Related to Biological Diversity" (Training Assistance) - US$ 30,000 requested
The Bureau approved a sum of US$ 30,000 for this project and requested the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to negotiate with developed States Parties in Europe and North America to support the participation of their site managers and use the savings thus obtained to support as many site managers as possible from developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Bureau also recommended that preference be given to choosing managers of sites that have the twin designations of World Heritage and Biosphere Reserves, to the extent possible.
Democratic Republic Republic of Congo - "Support to Resident Staff in the World Heritage sites in Danger – Garamba, Kahuzi Biega and Virunga National Parks and the Okapi Faunal Reserve" (Emergency Assistance) - US$ 105,000 requested
The Bureau approved the sum of US$ 105,000 for paying staff salaries allowances, purchase of equipment and undertaking training, construction of guard posts and monitoring activities benefiting the four sites.
The Bureau decided that US$ 105,000 shall comprise of the following budget components:
US$ 75,000 as emergency assistance using the US$ 50,471 of non-earmarked funds available under the 1999 allocation and transferring US$ 24,529 from the unspent amount of US$ 167,863 available under technical co-operation for natural heritage;
US$ 30,000 as technical co-operation from the remaining balance of US$ 143,334 remaining unspent under technical co-operation for natural heritage, after a sum of US$ 24,529 has been transferred to emergency assistance as indicated above.
In addition the Bureau:
commended the dedication of the staff resident in all four sites;
commended the commitment of the Task Force comprising Institut Congolaise pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), GTZ (Germany) and several international nongovernmental organisations supporting the conservation of the four sites, and endorsed their efforts to develop proposals to raise support from the international community for the sites over the medium term (3-4 years); and
requested the Centre and IUCN to report to the twenty-third session of the Committee, in Marrakesh, Morocco (29 November–4 December 1999) an assessment of the effectiveness of the delivery of these funds to site staff with the assistance of the Task Force and recommendations concerning possible additional assistance to the four sites that may be considered by the Committee for the year 2000.
United Republic of Tanzania - "Strengthening Protection Infrastructure of Tanzanian World Heritage sites – Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Parks" (Technical Co-operation) - US$ 50,000 requested
The Bureau requested the Centre to co-operate with the equipment purchase unit of UNESCO, in order to transfer the two vehicles, purchased in 1998 for two sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) but are currently stored in Mombassa, Kenya, to the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Parks of Tanzania.
The Bureau requested the Centre to cooperate with the UN Resident Co-ordinator’s Office as well as the UNESCO Office in Nairobi, and the Kenyan Government to request the Kenyan Government to waive vehicle-storage charges payable to the Ports authorities in Kenya and the cost of the transport of the vehicles to the United Republic of Tanzania.
In the event that such costs cannot be waived, the Bureau authorised the Chairperson to approve the amount needed to pay storage and transport charges, upon the submission of detailed invoices by the Centre, under the technical co-operation funds available for natural heritage projects in 1999.
Cuba - "Training course in preventive conservation" (Training Assistance) - US$ 30,000 requested
The Bureau recalled that the Committee at its twenty-second session had set aside US$ 30,000 for a training activity proposed by Cuba.
The Bureau examined a revised proposal for a training course in preventive conservation that had been prepared by Cuba in collaboration with an ICCROM expert.
Subsequently, the Bureau approved the implementation of this assistance for an amount of US$ 30,000 as proposed by Cuba.
Lithuania - "Vilnius Old Town Revitalization Programme" (Technical Co-operation) - US$ 30,000 requested
The Bureau thanked the Delegate of Italy for his generous offer and requested the Secretariat to pursue this matter urgently in close collaboration with the Permanent Delegations of Italy and Lithuania.
Syrian Arab Republic - «Establishing an overall management plan of Palmyre – 2nd phase» (Technical Co-operation) - US$ 30,000 requested
The Bureau recommended that the Committee approve an amount of US$ 20,000 from the 2000 budget of the World Heritage Fund.
The Bureau also recommended that, during the next mission, contacts be made with the funding sources to obtain the necessary resources for the implementation of this management plan.
Link to the decision
X.4 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Virunga National Park, Garamba National Park, Kahuzi Biega National Park, Okapi Wildlife Reserve
The Committee recalled the fact that at its last session (Kyoto, Japan, 1998) it had requested the Centre and IUCN to consult with ICCN and conservation NGOs working in the DRC and estimate the cost of paying allowances to staff at Virunga National Park as an interim measure, and submit a proposal for emergency assistance for consideration by the twenty-third session of the Bureau in 1999. The conservation NGOs, ICCN, concerned bilateral organisations (GTZ (Germany)), IUCN and UNESCO met in April 1999 (in Naivasha, Kenya), and at the time of the twenty-third session of the Bureau in July 1999. Discussions were held on the state of conservation of the World Heritage sites of DRC and the implementation of the recommendation made by the last session of the Committee. Discussions during these two meetings revealed that staff in all the four World Heritage sites in Danger urgently needed assistance. The Director-General of ICCN informed the twentythird session of the Bureau in July 1999 that his office in Kinshasa no longer has direct access to the four sites. He requested the Bureau and the Committee to help the staff in the four sites by providing assistance through the conservation NGOs and other partners who had field presence in the four sites. In response to requests submitted by ICCN in co-operation with the conservation NGOs and other partners, the Bureau approved a total sum of US$ 105,000 for the four sites. These funds are being disbursed via contracts established with UNESCO and ICCN's partners as follows:
(i) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - Virunga National Park: to pay, for the period of six months between July and December 1999, salaries of 500 persons at the Rwindi and the Mutsora Field Stations and salary supplements to selected staff who are active in anti-poaching surveillance operations (US$ 35,000);
(ii) International Rhino Foundation (IRF) - Garamba National Park: to pay, for the period of six months between July and December 1999, salaries of approximately 238 persons and additional salary supplements to selected staff who are active in anti-poaching surveillance operations (US$ 30,000);
(iii) To the GTZ(Germany)/ICCN Project - Kahuzi Biega National Park: to purchase equipment essential for patrolling and surveillance operations of guards; i.e. 100 patrolling gear, 8 walkie-talkies, 15 large and 15 small tents and local travel, transport and miscellaneous expenses (US$ 20,000); and
(iv) Gilman International Conservation (GIC) -Okapi Faunal Reserve: for staff training and guard camp construction activities (US$ 20,000).
The Committee noted that the implementation of the abovementioned contracts are proceeding satisfactorily.
The Committee was pleased to learn that the support for the above-mentioned activities initiated by the request approved by the Bureau will be extended over a period of 4 years through a project, approved by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), for a sum of US$ 4,186,600 and entitled: "Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict: Protecting World Natural Heritage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo". UNF will provide US$ 2,895,912 as an outright contribution and co-operate with UNESCO and its partners to raise the balance of US$ 1,290,688 from alternative sources. The UNF project assures payment of allowances to significant numbers of guards and workers in the four sites for 4 years beginning in the year 2000. This would free the partners from costs that they have incurred thus far in paying those allowances. The partners have assured UNESCO and UNF that they will use the savings to assist ICCN to meet the costs of indemnities and other payments due to large numbers of staff who are due to retire from service in all four sites. The partners have informed the Centre that special arrangements for meeting the needs of retiring staff in the northern and central sectors of Virunga, commemorating its 75th anniversary as Africa's first national park in 2000, would be required.
UNESCO and ICCN designed and developed the project with the close co-operation of specialists from UNESCO's Division of Ecological Sciences, and their partners. The Centre will be the international manager of the project with technical support from the UNESCO Division of Ecological Sciences and IUCN. ICCN will ensure national level co-ordination of the project. Site level activities will be implemented through the partners. In addition, the project will provide, via the GTZ/ICCN Project staff, assistance to the fifth World Heritage site of the DRC, i.e. Salonga National Park,which has been included in the List of World Heritage in Danger by the current session of the Committee.
The Committee noted that the Centre and the UNESCO Division of Ecological Sciences participated at a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, from 18 to 22 November 1999 to discuss the finalization of the UNF project document. The meeting was attended by all NGO partners, GTZ, ICCN and the Legal Advisor of the Ministry of Environment of the DRC and representatives of staff of all the five World Heritage sites of the DRC. The Vice- Minister for the Environment of the DRC attended the last day of the meeting and was presented with the conclusions of the meeting. He said his Ministry will fully support the implementation of the UNF project and that ICCN would serve as the national coordinating body and will enable the work of the partners and UNESCO for delivering assistance provided by UNF directly to the sites.
The Committee was informed that representatives of staff from the four sites in Danger as well as Salonga provided reports on the state of conservation of the sites at the Nairobi meeting mentioned above. Ability of staff to undertake regular patrols and surveillance activities has improved in Okapi, Kahuzi Biega and Garamba and are more or less stable in Virunga and Salonga. The site representatives thanked the Committee for the assistance provided by the July 1999 session of the Bureau that is contributing significantly to raising staff morale and effectiveness of surveillance work. The guards and workers in the sites are eagerly awaiting the beginning of the implementation of the UNF project that would assure them a certain stability of working conditions over a 4-year period. Despite improvements or stabilisation in working conditions, the threats to the integrity of the five sites continue to prevail. These threats mainly arise from the presence of armed groups within the sites that deny accessibility to significant parts of the site to staff. These armed groups are under the influence of forces outside of the DRC but factions of the rebel movement in DRC are also active in some sites. Return to normalcy cannot be assured until such armed groups allow staff to patrol and survey all parts of the sites under consideration. Several reports received by the Centre and IUCN describe the situation in the sites in DRC as an ecological catastrophe and poaching on gorillas, elephants and other wildlife species appear to be intensive. However, IUCN has received other reports that have observed a reduction in encounters between rangers and poachers in Garamba National Park during 1999. IUCN, in response to the issue raised by the Delegate of Thailand regarding possible removal of one or more of the DRC sites from the World Heritage List, pointed out that detailed information to explore such options was not available at present. Following further interventions by the Delegate of Benin, the Centre and IUCN, the Committee agreed that it should provide all necessary support for the satisfactory implementation of the UNF project to fully explore the feasibility of restoring the sites in the DRC over the next four years.
The Committee took into account the message from representatives of site staff who were present at the Nairobi meeting, that the Committee appeal to all parties concerned with the on-going armed conflict in the eastern parts of DRC to respect the international status of World Heritage sites and create the necessary conditions for staff to carry out their duties and functions in an effective manner. Furthermore, the Committee was informed that site representatives and partners at the Nairobi meeting had requested that the Committee consider providing financial assistance to cover the cost of the implementation of some critical activities, i.e. a mission to DRC to explain to authorities in Kinshasa and in the regions where the sites are located about the international significance of the sites and the importance of the effective execution of the UNF project; paying staff, due to retire soon, in the central and northern sectors of Virunga, necessary allowances and ensuring their integration into the life of the local communities. These two activities need to be implemented as soon as possible and before the execution of the UNF-financed project that is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2000.
The Committee, while expressing its serious concerns regarding the threats facing the sites and retaining all four sites in the List of World Heritage in Danger, welcomed the international response to the protection of these sites. The Committee commended the dedication of the resident guards and workers to the protection of the sites and the UNF for its generous contribution over a 4-year period to meet basic needs of protection of these globally important sites suffering from the impacts of armed conflict. In addition, the Committee called upon the Centre, in co-operation with ICCN, partner NGOs, GTZ and IUCN to:
- Estimate the total costs of organizing the intermediary mission recommended by the Nairobi meeting of partners and site representatives and the additional amount needed to pay pension benefits to staff at the central and northern sectors of Virunga and submit an emergency assistance request for consideration and approval by the Chairperson;
- Identify an appropriate and neutral person who could undertake the intermediary field mission to the DRC as quickly as possible with the co-operation of UNDP and UN agencies that have a presence in Kinshasa and in the regions where concerned sites are located; and
- Ensure an early launch and effective implementation of the UNF-financed project and submit progress reports to the annual sessions of the Committee beginning from the year 2000.
Furthermore the Committee,
- Requested its Chairperson to write to the President of the UNF thanking him for the generous support provided for the conservation of the World Natural Heritage sites in Danger in the DRC;
- Invited the Director-General of UNESCO to write to the President of the DRC and to the Heads of States of all neighbouring countries implicated in the war in eastern DRC, drawing their attention to the need to ensure the conservation of the universal values of these sites that are protected by international law. In that letter, the Director-General may also wish to request that the Heads of States concerned take all measures within their powers to ensure that staff working in the World Heritage sites of the DRC are given the necessary safety and assistance to carry out their work in a normal and effective manner;
- Invited all of its Members and States Parties to the Convention, through their embassies and other contacts, to call upon the President of the DRC and the Heads of neighbouring states implicated in the war in eastern DRC, and to urge them to ensure respect for international law protecting World Natural Heritage and seek assurances and support for the work of staff resident in the sites;
- Invited the Director-General of UNESCO to write to heads of concerned UN agencies, including the UN Secretary General and UN resident Co-ordinators in the DRC and the neighbouring states, asking for their co-operation in ensuring support for the work of the staff in the sites protected by international law and for the effective implementation of the UNF project for the conservation of the World Heritage sites in the DRC;
- Invited the Director-General of UNESCO to lead a mission, as soon as possible, to Kinshasa and the capitals of nearby countries implicated in the war in eastern DRC, to meet with the Heads of States and call for their attention and respect for compliance with international law that the conservation of these sites urgently demand; and
- Invited the Director of the Centre to write to the Heads of all the partner conservation NGOs and GTZ, thanking them for the support rendered for the conservation of the sites in the DRC and co-operating with the Centre for developing the project approved for financing by the UNF. In that letter, the Director should also invite the Heads of the partner organisations to use savings that they may obtain due to the approval of the UNF Project to reinvest in other activities in support of the conservation of the World Natural Heritage sites of the DRC and continue their co-operation with the Centre and the UNF to raise additional resources and to establish a long-term financing mechanism for conservation of the World Natural Heritage of the DRC.
The Committee may wish to retain Virunga, Garamba, and Kahuzi Biega National Parks and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee may also wish to examine additional information to be provided at the time of its session and take decisions and make recommendations as appropriate.
Okapi Wildlife Reserve
- Illegal activities
Inscription on the Danger List
Threats to the Site:
The Committee inscribed the Okapi Wildlife Reserve on the List of World Heritage in Danger, one year after giving it World Heritage status, due to reports that the armed conflict, which spread to the eastern parts of the country in early 1997, had led to the looting of facilities and the killing of elephants in this site. Most of the staff have fled the Reserve. There have also been reports of gold mining.
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).