Decision : CONF 205 V.29-33
Simen National Park (Ethiopia)
V.29 The Bureau learned that a Centre/IUCN mission was fielded to the site from 8 to 13 April 2001 and noted the detailed report on the conclusions and recommendations of the mission submitted as WHC-2001/CONF.205/INF.7.
V.30 The Bureau was informed that a high-level mission to the site had been fielded in March 2000 by the Amhara Regional Government which is now directly responsible for the Park. As a result of that mission, a high-level Simen Mountains Development and Conservation Co-ordination Committee, chaired by the Vice-President of the Regional Government, has been set up to consider the recommendations of the mission that relate to: (a) Park boundary adjustment; (b) re-alignment of the road; (c) development in the buffer zone and beyond; (d) relocation of some villages from the centre of the Park; and (e) integration of tourism into management.
V.31 There are an estimated 1,450 households inside the Park and the human population growth in the Park is around 1.5 - 2.0%. The total cultivated area in the Park, about 24%, has not increased significantly since the time of its establishment in 1969, but grazing pressure from livestock on forests and grasslands has intensified and is particularly heavy near human settlements. The endangered Walia Ibex tends to have some natural protection in the steep escarpments in the eastern boundary of the Park. Large areas of the unique afro-alpine habitat in the region, which are the main stronghold for the Ethiopian wolf, remain outside the boundaries of the Park and some efforts are underway to protect them by modifying the boundaries of the Park and to reduce poaching on the ibex. However, a systematic monitoring regime to track wildlife population trends is not yet in place.
V.32 A road that has been built through the Park to Chennek Camp and extending southwards has had erosion impacts and has provided greater access to the Park's resources, including for tourism development. Enforcement of regulations is weak; livestock grazing, which poses significant threats to natural habitats in the Park, needs to be controlled in order to preserve the World Heritage values of the site.
V.33 The Bureau thanked the Government of Ethiopia, and in particular the Government of the Amhara National Regional State, for inviting the mission and assisting the work of the mission team. The Bureau noted with satisfaction that the declaration of Simen as a World Heritage site in Danger has probably encouraged donors such as GEF (Global Environmental Facility), initiating negotiations with the Bureau of Agriculture of the Amhara Regional State for designing and developing conservation projects. The Bureau recommended that the Committee adopt the benchmarks established by the mission team for the Committee’s consideration of the eventual removal of Simen from the List of World Heritage in Danger, as follows: i.e. (i) re-alignment of the boundary and acceptance of the new boundaries and the associated conservation laws by local communities; (ii) exclusion of villages along the boundary of the Park from within the World Heritage site, as proposed by the management plan; (iii) extension of the Park to include the Mesarerya and Lemalino Wildlife Reserves, and initiation of steps to include the Ras Dejen Wildlife Reserve; (iv) resettlement of all human populations from the core zone of the Park and recent villages like Muchilla and Kewa, and significant and sustainable reduction of the population and environmental impacts of the extended Gich village in co-ordination with the indigenous communities; and (v) effective conservation and demonstration of increases in the numbers of populations of Walia Ibex and Simien Fox within the extended boundaries of the Park/World Heritage area.