Just a month after the submission of South Sudan’s first ever Tentative List of potential UNESCO World Heritage sites, UNESCO hosted a workshop on 23 November 2017 in Juba in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in order to guide the State Party in the preparation of a conservation and management plan for Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape, which could be used as part of the nomination file requesting World Heritage status for the natural heritage site.
“Amid ongoing conflict and a financial crisis that has resulted in a surge of poaching, unregulated natural resource extraction and encroachment, it is an urgent necessity to support the protection of the sites that have been identified by the Government of South Sudan as potential World Heritage sites,” said Mr. Umar Alam, Head of the UNESCO Office in South Sudan.
The workshop was held at the UNESCO Juba Office and led by natural heritage expert Mr. Koen Meyers, who has worked extensively on natural heritage site management and nominations for both UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The programme focused on the need to coordinate efforts for the effective management of the Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape, which is one of three sites included on South Sudan’s Tentative World Heritage List along with The Sudd Wetland and Diem Zubeir Slave Route Site.
The Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape includes the two National Parks of Boma and Bandigilo that host the second largest migration in the world, and is considered as Africa’s largest woodland savannah habitat. The exceptional natural beauty and the appreciation of the migration as a superlative natural phenomenon cannot be questioned. Neither can it be denied that this site contains important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity and threatened species such as the Rothschilds giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) and the wild dog (Lycaon pictus).
So how are these values preserved for the future generations of South Sudanese and for the global community as a whole? A crucial issue discussed during the workshop was the legal status of the area between the two National Parks with support of the WCS maps of the migratory roots. Another essential requirement is to put in place the coordination mechanism between the involved actors that will be guided by a joint action plan. The actions will be focusing on areas such as awareness raising of various stakeholders, addressing the legal status of protected areas, and further advancing on the collection of scientific data related to the natural and cultural elements of the Tentative List site. These actions will need to be supported by specialized workshops focusing on defining the protective buffer zones, stakeholder mapping and consultations. The development of a realistic work plan for the nomination process of the potential World Heritage site is needed to ensure all of the critical steps are followed.
A press conference followed the closure of the workshop providing the opportunity to disseminate the outcomes of the working session and also foster a better understanding of the concept of World Heritage in South Sudan. The many benefits that are linked with a potential World Heritage site attracted the interest of the journalists and in particular the potential economic benefits. Comparing the Boma-Badingilo Migratory Landscape with other World Heritage sites in the region such as Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, it can be argued that a future industry developed around the site could significantly contribute to the economic development of South Sudan, while creating job opportunities for the local communities. In addition, the site is an unquestionable source of national pride and an important part of South Sudan’s common heritage.
This activity, which was made possible through a generous contribution from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands Funds-in-Trust to UNESCO, is part of UNESCO’s efforts to support the Government of South Sudan in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.