VII.6 Simen National Park (Ethiopia)
The Committee recalled the fact that the regional authorities in Bahir Dar, where this site is located, had disagreed with its decision to include this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996. The Committee was informed that the Bureau, at its twenty-second session (June 1998) had noted with satisfaction the efforts of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Ethiopia and the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa, to provide more information to the Bahir Dar authorities on the meaning and implications of the Committee's decision to include Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Committee took note of the fact that a stakeholders' meeting had been convened in Gondar on 24-25 June 1998, and that the responsibilities for the management of the Park had been transferred from the Central Authorities to the region. The meeting had led to the formation of a 'dialogue-group' of various national and regional offices to discuss follow-up activities for the conservation of the Park. The meeting had called for the organization of a second stakeholders' seminar, before June 1999, in collaboration with UNDP, Austria, UNESCO, UNCDF, Bahir Dar Regional Heads and donors, to follow-up on the outcome of the first meeting held in June 1998. The objectives of the second stakeholders' meeting would be to establish a strategy for:
(i) minimizing the human population inside the Park, estimated at 8-10,000 people at present;
(ii) rehabilitation of the Park and re-establishing populations of selected species, like the Walia Ibex which have moved out of the Park due to human presence and the cultivation of considerable areas of the Park;
(iii) creation of an alternative to a road which currently goes through the Park; and
(iv) establishment of a framework for co-ordination, including the possible setting up of an Inter-Agency Committee where donor participation will be invited, for the sustainable development of the Simen Mountains ecosystem.
The Committee recalled the fact that it had approved a sum of US$ 30,000 in 1996 for the organization of a stakeholders' meeting for the conservation of Simen which had not been utilized because the Regional authorities in Bahir Dar had disagreed with the Committee's decision to include the site in the List of World Heritage in Danger at that time. The Committee requested the Centre and IUCN to consult with the Ethiopian authorities regarding the use of the US$ 30,000 from the 1999 budget of the World Heritage Fund, either for the organization of the second stakeholders' meeting or for other strategic planning activities pertaining to the conservation and management of this site. The Committee decided to retain Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger.