Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Selous Game Reserve

United Republic of Tanzania
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Financial resources
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
  • Water infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Reduction of elephant population

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Poaching;
  • Reduction of elephant populations;
  • Insufficient funding;
  • Mineral and hydrocarbon prospecting and mining;
  • Tourism management and development;
  • Potential and proposed dam development.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 3 (from 1984-1999)
Total amount approved : 67,980 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

In February 2013, the State Party submitted a brief report on the state of conservation of the property. The State Party report provides an overview of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Committee’s Decision 36 COM 7B.5 but not on the implementation of Decision 36 COM 8B.43, in which the World Heritage Committee approved the boundary modification of Selous Game Reserve.

a)   Poaching

The State Party reports that a new programme to counter poaching was developed in July 2012 and has been implemented since then. It includes the employment of 40 additional permanent and 150 temporary scouts, repairs of vehicles and equipment, infrastructure rehabilitation and a re-establishment of the former patrolling system. For this purpose, the Government re-employed a former site manager with a history of achievement. The State Party is also implementing a system of Wildlife Management Areas and village game scouts in the buffer zones around the Selous as part of its official Wildlife Policy. It reports that the number of elephants killed by poachers inside the property has decreased significantly since the introduction of the new programme and notes that a report on this is under preparation, but does not provide supporting data.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the efforts of the State Party to step up the anti-poaching efforts to address the elephant poaching crisis. They note recent results of the “Monitoring of illegal killing of elephants” project (MIKE), which were presented at COP16 (Conference of Parties) of the CITES Convention, clearly show a significant increase in the proportion of illegally killed elephants from 2002 to 2011, with 64% of all elephant carcasses found in 2011 due to poaching. This confirms the results of the 2009 elephant survey in Selous which indicated a 44% decline in the population. They note that a survey was undertaken in 2011, that the results are not yet available, and that it is important that these data are available to the scientific community. They consider that the mentioned report on poaching should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre as soon as possible and include data for wildlife corridors and dispersal areas such as the Selous-Niassa corridor, which are critical for maintaining the values and the integrity of the property, in order to show the impact of the anti-poaching measures taken.

b)   Funding

The State Party report notes that the Governmental Wildlife Division will soon be converted into a parastatal authority, the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), which will retain the income generated from hunting and viewing tourism, and address the financial shortages of the Selous. The State Party also reports that the Revenue Retention Scheme is already reinstated.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome that the retention scheme has been reinstated and the planned creation of TAWA, which should bring a sustainable solution to the funding issue. They note that no financial figures of the percentage of retention of revenues under the scheme are provided. They highlight that the timeframe for the creation of TAWA remains vague and that a draft bill does not yet exist. They consider that it will be important to ensure that transparent processes are put in place to manage the revenue generated in order for TAWA to be effective.

c)   Mining and hydrocarbon exploration

The State Party report notes that mining exploration is currently being undertaken in the South-Western sector of the property, which is assumed to refer to the Mkuju uranium mine, and that no exploration of hydrocarbons is taking place within the property.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the Committee at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) approved in an exceptional and unique manner the boundary modification for the Mkuju River uranium mine, due to the significant conservation commitments made by the State Party at the time and note that the Committee requested the State Party to report on the implementation of specific activities as detailed in its Decision 36 COM 8B.43, in particular:

§  Extending the reserve by annexing valuable forest area in order to maintain the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,

§  Implementing an environmental management and monitoring plan for the Mkuju River Mining Site,

§  Respecting the economic and social needs of the population and workers in connection to the uranium mine,

§  Carrying out mining and processing of uranium in adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency rules, and

§  Ensuring that investors contribute financially to the property.

They note that such a report has not been submitted by the State Party.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further note that given the complex hydrology of Selous, the Mkuju uranium mine, depending on its design and operating conditions, may have a significant negative impact on Selous’ water-shed systems (rivers and groundwater) and also on poaching (it is expected that the mine will draw up to 1800 workers). They note that it is crucial that the uranium company and the State Party ensure that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the mine is updated as required and that impacts on the property’s OUV are avoided and closely monitored.

On 26 October 2012, the German organization Rainforest Rescue delivered to the World Heritage Centre, a petition against the decision by the World Heritage Committee to modify the property’s boundary. The World Heritage Centre shared this information with the State Party for comments on 8 November 2012.

d)   Dams

Concerning the Stiegler’s Gorge dam, the State Party report indicates that no official notification has been made to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on any hydroelectric power projects in the property, and that the Ministry will keep the Committee informed of any developments.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note media reports of January 2013 that planning for the Stiegler’s Gorge dam in the centre of the property is ongoing: the reports note that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Rufiji Basin Development authority and the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht and that a proposal for the development of the project was presented to the Government. A letter was sent to the State Party to comment on these reports in April 2013. At the time of drafting of this report, no reply had been received.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the dam project would not only flood a major part of the northwestern reserve, but also radically alter the entire ecology of the Rufiji river and floodplain system in the tourist sector. This would adversely affect the most important ecological elements of the reserve and severely impact its OUV. They recall that the World Heritage Committee in its Decisions 35 COM 7B.6 and 36 COM 7B.5 decided that any decision to go forward with dam construction inside the property would constitute a clear case for inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that a new dam with a 700 MW hydropower plant, planned at Mnyera Falls (west of the reserve), could potentially serve as an alternative to Stiegler’s Gorge dam. They recommend that the World Heritage Committee requests the State Party to conduct a comparative analysis of alternatives to the Stiegler’s Gorge dam, in the context of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), to comprehensively assess less environmentally damaging alternatives.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also recall the commitment of the State Party not to undertake any development activities within Selous Game Reserve, and its buffer zone without prior approval of the World Heritage Committee.

The State Party has confirmed that due to a new design the Kidunda dam at the northeastern tip of the reserve will not flood any part of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note however that there is no confirmation that the flooding of the key wildlife areas bordering the property in the north, will also be avoided, as requested by the Committee (Decision 36 COM 7B.5, paragraph 7b). Without these plains and wetlands, which serve as an indispensable dry season grazing reservoir, and which constitute a registered village Wildlife Management Area, the wildlife populations of the reserve’s northern sector cannot be maintained.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2013

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the State Party has initiated steps to address the poaching crisis, in particular of elephants.  They also note the reintroduction of the retention scheme as a major step in the right direction, in particular as it remains unclear when the new Wildlife Authority (TAWA) will be operational. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the exceptional boundary modification at the Mkuju uranium mine area was agreed by the Committee on the basis of major conservation commitments made by the State Party. However, the State Party has not provided a progress report on the implementation of these commitments (as requested by the Committee in Decision 36 COM 8B.43). The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee welcome the positive actions taken, but express its deep regret that the State Party has not submitted the required progress report and requests its submission as soon as possible.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the planning and financing of the Stiegler’s Gorge dam project, which would severely affect the property’s OUV seems to continue and recall that the Committee considered (Decision 36 COM 7B.5) that the approval of any dam within the property would represent a clear ascertained danger to the property’s OUV in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and constitute a clear basis for its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. They recommend that the World Heritage Committee requests a clear commitment from the State Party not to develop the Stiegler’s gorge dam project given that it is incompatible with the World Heritage status of the property.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also recommend that given the multiple conservation issues affecting the property, the Committee urge the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in order to comprehensively identify the cumulative impacts of planned developments within the property, as well as within important wildlife corridors and dispersal areas that are critical for maintaining the values and the integrity of the property. A SEA should act as a forward-planning tool to enable the State Party to identify and assess least environmentally damaging development alternatives and plan mitigation measures in order to maintain the OUV of Selous for future generations. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.7
Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania) (N 199bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B, 

2.  Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.5 and 36 COM 8B.43 adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Welcomes the anti-poaching measures initiated by the State Party as well as the reinstatement of the retention scheme and requests the State Party to submit as soon as possible a report on the efficiency of these measures;

4.  Takes note of the fact that no official notification has been made to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on any proposed hydroelectric power projects in the property but notes with concern that the planning of the Stiegler’s Gorge dam project is reportedly advancing and a proposal for the development of the project was presented to the Government;

5.  Reiterates its utmost concern that the Stiegler’s Gorge dam project could seriously damage the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and urges the State Party to respect its commitment not to undertake any development activities within Selous Game Reserve and its buffer zone without prior approval of the World Heritage Committee in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

6.  Also urges the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2010 reactive monitoring mission as well as its commitment to conservation concerning the minor boundary modification granted for the Mkuju uranium mine as requested in Decision 36 COM 8B.43 , in particular adding valuable forestland to the property and finalizing compensation in line with the prescribed national legal procedures, including gazettement;

7.  Also requests the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment to comprehensively identify the cumulative impacts of the following developments, assess least damaging alternatives and plan mitigation measures as appropriate: mining, energy, agriculture and associated infrastructure, such as road building, both within the property as well as in important wildlife corridors and dispersal areas that are critical for maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property;

8.  Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property to assess the state of conservation of Selous Game Reserve, including the impacts of elephant poaching, the management of the impacts of the Mkuju uranium mine adjacent to the property, asses the status of the Kidunda dam and Stiegler’s Gorge dam projects as well as the implementation of the recommendations of the 2010 monitoring mission;

9.  Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a progress report on the implementation of the above, as well as a progress report on the implementation of Decision 36 COM 8B.43, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of ascertained or potential danger, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Draft Decision:  37 COM 7B.7

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B, 

2.  Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.5 and 36 COM 8B.43 adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Deeply regrets that the State Party has not provided a progress report on the implementation of its conservation commitments in connection with the boundary modification at the Mkuju uranium mine, as requested in Decision 36 COM 8B.43 and urges the State Party to implement the commitments made and to immediately submit this report;

4.  Welcomes the anti-poaching measures initiated by the State Party as well as the reinstatement of the retention scheme and requests the State Party to submit as soon as possible a report on the efficiency of these measures and to provide a clear timeframe for the creation of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA);

5.  Takes note of the fact that no official notification has been made to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on any proposed hydroelectric power projects in the property but notes with concern that the planning of the Stiegler’s Gorge dam project is reportedly advancing and a proposal for the development of the project was presented to the Government;

6.  Reiterates its position that the approval of any dam within the property would constitute a clear basis for its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and urges the State Party to provide a clear commitment not to develop the Stiegler’s gorge dam project given that it is incompatible with the World Heritage status of the property;

7.  Also urges the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2010 reactive monitoring mission to the property and fully implement its commitments agreed in relation to the excision of the Mkuju uranium mine, in particular adding valuable forestland to the property and finalizing compensation in line with the prescribed national legal procedures, including gazettement;

8.  Also requests the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment to comprehensively identify the cumulative impacts of the following developments, assess least damaging alternatives and plan mitigation measures as appropriate: mining, energy, agriculture and associated infrastructure, such as road building, both within the property as well as in important wildlife corridors and dispersal areas that are critical for maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property;

9.  Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission to the property to assess the state of conservation of Selous Game Reserve, including the impacts of elephant poaching, the management of the impacts of the Mkuju uranium mine adjacent to the property, asses the status of the Kidunda dam and Stiegler’s Gorge dam projects as well as the implementation of the recommendations of the 2010 monitoring mission;

10.  Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a progress report on the implementation of the above, as well as a progress report on the implementation of Decision 36 COM 8B.43, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of ascertained or potential danger, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 2013
United Republic of Tanzania
Date of Inscription: 1982
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 2014-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 37COM (2013)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


top