Mt.Nimba Nature Reserve (Côte d'Ivoire/Guinea)
The Committee recalled that the Bureau at its last session requested the Guinean authorities to submit a new file stating the boundaries of the property receiving adequate protection, and the long-term guarantees for that protection. The Committee was glad to note that such a file had been submitted by the Guinean authorities and that IUCN had undertaken a field mission to evaluate the information provided in that file.
The Committee noted that the proposed iron-ore mining site was within the boundaries of the Mt.Nimba Nature Reserve inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981. In the light of the evaluation presented by IUCN, the Committee took cognizance of the fact that the new boundaries proposed by the Guinean authorities, though intended to excise that part of the site where iron-ore mining is expected to take place, will also reduce the Reserve's area by about 30% and seriously endanger the integrity of the values for which Mt.Nimba was originally granted World Heritage status. For instance, the montane and moist forest areas of the Reserve would be reduced by 50% and the area of montane grasslands would decreased by 30%. The Committee also observed that the site did not have management plans and programmes for ensuring long-term protection. Furthermore, the Committee was informed that an independent environmental impact study of the iron-ore mining project had not been carried out.
In considering the options available to it for ensuring the conservation of this World Heritage property, the Committee was unwilling to accept that option where the organization(s) financing the iron-ore mining project would compensate for the reduction in the size of the area of the Reserve by supporting projects which would strengthen the conservation of this site. The Committee was of the view that the proposed reduction in the size of the Reserve's area was in itself a major threat to the World Heritage status of the site. The Committee found it likely that some of the features which made this site worthy of World Heritage status were located within the area proposed to be deleted.
The Committee recalled that additional habitats of Mt.Nimba within Côte d'Ivoire were added to this site in 1982 and since then the World Heritage site has been a transborder property of Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea. The Committee was concerned that the Government of Côte d'Ivoire had not been consulted in any of the negotiations related to the modification of the boundaries of the site.
While recognizing the legitimate economic aspirations and needs of Guinea, the Committee concluded that the Mt.Nimba Nature Reserve, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981, was seriously at risk from a variety of threats, primarily the proposed iron-ore mining project. Hence, the Committee instructed the Secretariat to contact the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea and request them to nominate this site, in accordance with Article 11 paragraph 4 of the Convention, for inclusion in the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Committee requested the Secretariat to transmit these recommendations together with the criteria and procedures (as outlined in paragraphs 59-71 of the Operational Guidelines), for nominating the Mt.Nimba Nature Reserve to the World Heritage in Danger List to the authorities in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea under the signature of the DirectorGeneral of UNESCO.
The Delegate of the United States of America recalled that, during its last session, the Committee had requested him to consider the application of Article 6 (3) of the Convention, which imposes obligations on States Parties to the Convention with regard to cultural and natural heritage situated on the territory of other States Parties to the Convention. He continued by informing the Committee that his Government was not involved in the mining project by direct activity or financing. Hence, the Delegate concluded that even if the mining project were to proceed, the United States would not breach its obligations as specified in Article 6 (3).