The Bureau recalled that the Committee had recommended (Naples, 1997), a mission to this site to evaluate the state of conservation and to determine whether the site could be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee had noted the findings of the Centre/State Party/IUCN site mission (September-October 1998), and of previous missions of IUCN-Niger which indicated that the numbers of most wildlife species are recovering. The flora, except in some valleys where they seem to be over-used by local people, is mostly intact. Species like the ostrich however, are seriously threatened by poaching and international trade in live animals and its by-products; the ostrich population in the Reserves had dropped to less than 10% of 1990-91 estimates. The Peace Agreement between the Government and rebels appears to be effective and the impact of rebel activities on the site has been less severe than previously expected.
The Committee learned of the State Party’s efforts to elaborate an emergency rehabilitation programme for the site, focused to: (i) restore sites used as bases by the rebels in the past; (ii) strengthen surveillance and protection capacity; (iii) promote ostrich breeding in partial enclosures; (iv) carry out rapid evaluation of impacts on populations of key faunal species; (v) establish a committee for development and management of the site; and (vi) conduct training workshops on threats to natural heritage for selected target groups like border police, customs officers etc.
The Bureau examined the emergency rehabilitation plan presented in Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.12 and noted that the Chairperson had approved a grant for supporting a training seminar for border police and customs officers. The Bureau was informed that IUCN's Country Office for Niger has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife of Niger for launching a programme entitled « Air 2000 », in co-operation with other donors like SDC, DANIDA and GEF. The signing of this MOU has resulted in some modifications to the component of the emergency rehabilitation plan activities, indicated in the Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.12 and which were to be submitted for financial support from the World Heritage Fund. Following the request of the Observer of Niger, the Bureau asked the Centre and IUCN to explore ways and means to finance the implementation of the rehabilitation plan, including the submission of projects for financial assistance to the consideration of the Chairperson and the twenty-third session of the Committee (29 November to 4 December 1999). The Bureau agreed with the recommendation of IUCN that the decision on whether or not the Committee should consider removing the Air and Ténéré Reserves from the List of World Heritage in Danger should be deferred until 2000, when the monitoring results of the impact of the implementation of the rehabilitation plan would be available. Hence, the Bureau recommended that the Committee retain Air and Ténéré in the List of World Heritage in Danger.