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World Heritage Convention

Decision 39 COM 7B.32
Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda (Gabon) (C/N 1147rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.59, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Commends the decision of the State Party to progress a bypass for National Highway 3 to the north of the property; however, notes that the four possible route options might pass through sensitive archaeological areas, and urges the State Party to undertake a detailed Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) in line with ICOMOS’ guidance on HIAs, including an assessment of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, as a means of exploring the optimum route and ways to mitigate impact, and to submit this HIA to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available;
  4. Also urges the State Party to identify options to rehabilitate the existing road through the property as a secondary road for local traffic to maintain adequate transport connections for local communities, to assess potential impacts on OUV, and to put in place measures to limit the use of this road by heavy traffic;
  5. Considers that both the road and the fibre optic projects increase the risk of poaching, which is the primary threat to natural values of the property, and further urges the State Party to address the lack of personnel in order to ensure adequate surveillance;
  6. Notes with concern that little progress has been made in increasing cultural heritage staff, and requests the State Party to provide training in cultural heritage management to existing staff, and to establish a detailed database and active protection of archaeological and other cultural sites;
  7. Urges furthermore the State Party to finalize and approve the 2013-2017 management plan and implement it as soon as possible, in particular its provisions related to staff structure;
  8. Also notes with concern that the economic situation at the property, which is marked by a rural exodus and a lack of jobs, is aggravating conflicts between the park and local communities, and encourages the State Party to develop a comprehensive economic development project for the property and its surroundings;
  9. Also requests the State Party to update wildlife monitoring data in order to assess current populations and trends of key species, and to better monitor and respond to the impacts from poaching;
  10. Also encourages the National Parks Agency (ANPN), in collaboration with the railway company, to urgently put in place a mechanism to prevent recurring train-wildlife accidents;
  11. Further requests the State Party to implement all the other recommendations of the 2015 mission, in particular:
    1. Implement the recommendations for the development of the engravings at the Doda Site and the eco-museum, and continue to reflect on the valorisation of other cultural sites,
    2. Undertake a mission to sites with rock engravings to examine any change and the conditions of their preservation,
    3. Put in place a mechanism to systematically control the movements of people and vehicles during the entire duration of the works on the optic fibre project, and foresee awareness raising session and communication sessions to raise the awareness of project staff about the fragility of the area;
  12. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015)
Context of Decision