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World Heritage Convention

Decision 40 COM 8B.6
Examination of nominations of natural properties to the World Heritage List

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/16/40.COM/8B.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/INF.8B2.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 8B.3 adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Inscribes Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park, Sudan, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (vii), (ix) and (x);
  4. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Brief synthesis
The Sanganeb Marine National Park (SMNP) and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park, Sudan (DMNP) is located in the northern part of the Red Sea and lies within the Far Western Indo-Pacific biogeographic region. The property’s marine systems, fauna and flora are from an Indian Ocean origin, however, due to its semi-enclosed nature, it has developed unique and different ecosystems and species not found elsewhere. Thus the property is distinctive and unique because of its high number of species, diverse number of habitats, high endemism, and remoteness.
The property contains impressive natural phenomena, reef formations and areas of great natural beauty and is relatively undisturbed. The area serves as a standard to assess the health of the central Red Sea’s regional ecosystems. As an excellent example of a coral deep water offshore reef, Sanganeb provides an outstanding example for comparative studies with similar systems in other regions including the Indian and Pacific Oceans and a place to understand the interactions of biota and environment. Located within the Red Sea’s centre of biodiversity the remarkable clarity of the water makes it one of the best diving sites in the Red Sea and indeed the world.
The two components of the property are connected by a coastal stretch extending 125 km including mersas, inlets, fringing reefs and off-shore reef formations, and the whole serial site is geologically and ecologically connected via the open flows that facilitate the exchange of biotic and abiotic elements within the marine ecosystems of the Red Sea. It encompasses a large bay that contains islands, several small islets and some of the most northerly coral reefs in the world associated with species (including seagrass and mangroves) at the limits of their global range and evolutionary expansion, which are therefore important from a scientific and conservation perspective.
Sanganeb atoll is the only atoll-like feature in the Red Sea, and a submerged and overhanging predator dominated coral reef ecosystem. It consists of 13 different bio-physiographic reef zones, each providing typical coral reef assemblages, supporting a wealth of marine life and breathtaking underwater vistas, hosting at least 361 fish species with numerous endemic and rare species. Besides providing important nurseries and spawning grounds for key species, it also hosts resident populations of dolphins, sharks and marine turtles, which use the atoll as a resting, breeding and feeding area.
Dungonab Bay, including Mukkawar Island and other islands, contains an array of habitat types, such as extensive coral reef complexes, mangroves, seagrasses and intertidal and mudflat areas which all enable the survival (breeding, feeding and resting) of endangered dugong, sharks, manta rays, dolphins and migratory birds. The Bay exhibits overlying fossil reefs, sometimes up to 150m high, and contains fish and coral communities more usually separated by several hundred kilometers.
Criterion (vii): The property contains impressive natural phenomena, formations and areas of great natural beauty and is a relatively undisturbed area that serves as a standard to assess the health of the central Red Sea’s regional ecosystems. As an exemplary example of a coral deep water offshore reef, Sanganeb provides an outstanding opportunity for comparative studies with similar systems in other regions including the Indian and Pacific Oceans and a place to understand the interactions of biota and environment. Located within the Red Sea’s centre of biodiversity the remarkable clarity of the water makes it one of the best diving sites in the Red Sea and indeed the world.
Sanganeb is an isolated, atoll-shaped coral reef structure in the central Red Sea, 25 km off the shoreline of Sudan. Surrounded by 800 m deep water, the atoll-like coral reef systems are part of the northernmost coral reef systems in the world. Sanganeb is a largely pristine marine ecosystem providing some of the most impressive underwater vistas resulting from the very high diversity of physiographic zones and reefs characterized by an extraordinary structural complexity. Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island is situated 125 km north of Port Sudan and includes within its boundaries a highly diverse system of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, beaches, intertidal areas, islands and islets. The clear visibility of the water, coral diversity, marine species and pristine habitats and colorful coral reef communities create a striking land- and seascape.
Criterion (ix): The property is located in an ecologically and globally outstanding region, the Red Sea, which is the world’s northernmost tropical sea, is the warmest and most saline of the world´s seas, and is a Global 200 priority biogeographic region. The serial site is also located in a priority marine province, the Gulf of Aden.
The property is part of a larger transition area between northern and southern Red Sea biogeographic zones and contains diverse and mostly undisturbed habitats which are outstanding examples of the northernmost tropical coral reef system on earth. The property and its surrounding area include reef systems (13 different bio-physiographic reef zones in Sanganeb Marine National Park (SMNP)), the only atoll-like feature in the Red Sea, lagoons, islets, sand flats, seagrass beds, and mangrove habitats and display a diversity of reefs, from living reefs to ancient fossil reefs. These habitats are home to populations of seabirds (20 species), marine mammals (11 species), fish (300 species), corals (260 species), sharks, manta rays and marine turtles, and the site provides important feeding grounds for what is perhaps the most northerly population of endangered Dugong. SMNP is an important larvae source area and hosts spawning sites for commercial fish species.
Criterion (x): Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Marine National Park (DMNP) supports a globally significant dugong population, given that the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf host the last remaining healthy populations of this species in the Indian Ocean. The whale and manta ray seasonal aggregations in DMNP are unique to the entire Western Indian Ocean Region and the marine park is internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area for both resident and migratory birds. DMNP is also unique as a home to species from different biogeographic origins: both northern and southern Red Sea species. SMNP lies in a regional hotspot for reef fish endemism. The property generally supports a higher than average subset of endemics found in the Red Sea, including the richest diversity of coral west of India and a number of coral species which are at the limits of their global range.
The property is an outstanding marine ecosystem that sustains an intact ecological setup and interacting biological processes, and is in need of long-term conservation support for its unique diversity and endemism. It covers both shallow habitats and reef formations and deep-sea areas that are ecologically interacting by natural exchange.
The property’s size is adequate to contain most of the attributes that convey Outstanding Universal Value and meets the requirements of integrity. It maintains a high level of intactness through long-term conservation of its biodiversity. The total area of the property is 199,524 ha (SMNP: 692 ha; DMNP 198,832 ha). The property is surrounded by a buffer zone with a total size of 401,136 ha which consists of a marine area of 321,983 ha and a terrestrial buffer zone of some 79,153 ha. Sanganeb atoll is relatively remote from land-based activities and the traditional artisanal fishing around it is under the control of the Fisheries Administration of Sudan. Dungonab Bay marine waters are protected by Wildlife Administration and Fisheries regulations. If these regulations are not promptly enforced, Dungonab Bay is likely to suffer negative impacts on the biota from the activities of the two villages at the coast, from major land use changes, salt exploitation, oyster farming, and potentially pearling. Species which are likely to be affected are coral and fish species, turtles, manta rays, sharks, dolphins, dugongs, and birds. The property has not shown any invasive or non-resident species as yet.
Protection and management requirements
The Government of Sudan has a legal commitment at both the National and State levels towards the protection and conservation of resources within its coastal waters through its comprehensive National Strategy. Several laws and regulations are in place and Sudan has signed regional and international protocols and conventions. Both SMNP (1990) and DMNP (2004) have been declared as marine protected areas by Presidential Decrees. Both are the responsibility of the Government of Sudan and various pieces of national legislation pertain to the property including the Federal Environmental Law (2001); State Environmental Law (2006); Wildlife Conservation and National Park Act, (1987); National Parks, Sanctuaries and Reserves Regulation, (1939); and the Game Protection and Federal Parks Act (1986). Other laws govern matters related to wildlife protection, fisheries, shipping and water quality. It is noteworthy to mention that the property has also been internationally recognised as a Ramsar site since 2003.
The management plan for Dungonab Bay and Mukkawar Island Marine National Park is already updated while the management plan for Sanganeb Marine National Park is currently in the process of being updated. However, an integrated Management framework for the property is under discussion at national level to complement the two individual management plans in the near future. Local communities’ participation and other stakeholders are consulted by the management authority during the updating of the two management plans. This community participation will be a corner stone for the development of the integrated management plan. The management authority acknowledges the importance to monitor the impacts of tourism on ecosystems and on local communities through the implementation of a Tourism Strategy.
5.  Commends the efforts made by the State Party to review the boundaries of the property, update the Sanganeb Marine National Park management plan and otherwise strengthen protection and management in order to bring forward the country’s first natural World Heritage property;
6.  Requests the State Party to:
a) complete the work to update the management plan for Dungonab Bay Marine National Park to complete the preparation of an integrated management framework for the whole property that guides coordinated inter-agency policy and management and promotes the effective involvement of different stakeholders including local communities by December 2017.
b) provide the World Heritage Centre with high quality resolution maps that clearly define the boundaries of the property and the buffer zone by 1 December 2017,
c) work with the support of IUCN to identify additional areas of potential Outstanding Universal Value that may be considered for future extension of the property,
d) continue to increase financial resources to support the operational aspects of effective management of the property and provide assurance to the World Heritage Committee on commitments to maintain ongoing sustainable financing;

7.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, a report on implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Report of the Decisions adopted during the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016)
Context of Decision