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Dja Faunal Reserve

Cameroon
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Commercial hunting
  • Illegal activities
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of entire approval and implementation of management plan;
  • Mining exploitation project close to the property;
  • Industrial agriculture in the buffer zone;
  • Threats exerted by commercial hunting and deforestation around the Park.
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2013

Total amount granted: USD 60,000, UNESCO FIT Netherlands. USD 193,275 and USD 118,725, respectively in 2008 and 2009, in the frame of the Central Africa World Heritage Forest Initiative (CAWHFI) in the south-west of Cameroon

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 4 (from 1987-1997)
Total amount approved : 84,700 USD
Missions to the property until 2013**

March 1998: UNESCO monitoring mission; June 2006, December 2009 and February-March 2012: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring missions.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 29 January 2013, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. This report identifies a number of measures designed to strengthen the institutional and operational framework for management of the property. These measures include the strengthening of technical and logistical capacities, the establishment of a framework agreement with the management body of the property, environmental awareness and the development of micro-projects for local communities. It also specifies the responses provided by the State Party to Decision 36 COM 7B.1. The report also lists a number of activities planned for 2013. The State Party reports that a five-year emergency safeguarding plan for protected areas in Cameroon was developed in 2012 and approved by the President of the Republic. The plan provides for the annual recruitment of 500 eco-guards, their training, and the upgrading of equipment. The Dja Faunal Reserve is one of the seven priority areas of the emergency plan. The property is one of the ten pilot sites of the Africa Nature Programme of the World Heritage Centre co-funded by the African World Heritage Fund, IUCN, the MAVA Foundation and the Kingdom of Belgium. The programme’s overall objective is to improve the management effectiveness of these properties through the implementation of the tool entitled "Enhancing our Heritage".

Furthermore, the State Party has sought and obtained from the Franz Weber Foundation funding of USD 263,700 to contribute to the implementation of Decision 36 COM 7B.1 of the World Heritage Committee and a project for the sustainable conservation of the property, over a five-year period (2013-2017). This project aims to: (1) mitigate threats due to the impacts of mining and agricultural projects around the property, (2) strengthen the technical and operational capacities of the management body of the property, (3) encourage the involvement of local communities in the management of the property and the improvement of their living conditions.

a)  Mining activity within and around the property

The report recalls that the GEOVIC Mining Corp, which has a cobalt mining exploitation project on a site located 30 km from the property, submitted a second social and environmental management plan to the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED). However, this document, which does not clearly describe the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and their mitigation measures is still awaiting approval, although no exploitation activity has begun, and the company pursues its exploration activities. Moreover, in the framework of the sustainable conservation project of the Dja Faunal Reserve funded by the Franz Weber Foundation, the terms of reference of a new Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) will be elaborated by the end of May 2013, and validated in a national workshop on 3 June 2013. This work will lead to the creation of a new ESIA to be funded by GEOVIC, and which will meet the highest international standards.

Regarding the mining permit that straddled the property, parliamentarians met in special session in early 2013 and recommended the suspension of all mining permits within protected areas in Cameroon. In the case of this property, this action was followed by the decision of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological Development of Cameroon, taken on 13 March 2013, to reduce by 20% the Venture Capital firm’s holdings of mining exploration permits, to limit the encroachment observed on the property, as requested by the Committee.

The report also states that a new mining company (AUCAM) obtained an exploration permit on the western edge of the property.  It mentions a resurgence of artisanal gold mining south of the Dja Biosphere Reserve, but without giving details of its impact on the property itself.

b)   Construction of the Mekin Dam

The report notes that the work on the future Mekin Dam (in the Mekas loop, 100 km west of the property) will continue, and that this work has contributed to the opening of bypass roads that could be used by poachers. The Government expects delivery of the dam in 2014. The report does not mention any revision of the impact assessment in relation to the property, nor any measures to mitigate the impacts of this vast infrastructure on its Outstanding Universal Value. Nor does it provide information on the State Party’s intentions to prepare a comprehensive development plan for the Dja Valley.

However, the State Party emphasizes that since 2012, the EDC / Hydro Mekin Company is involved in a multiparty discussion between stakeholders within the territory of the Biosphere Reserve. A draft memorandum of understanding has been formulated and is awaiting signature by the stakeholders. Despite this positive sign of improved dialogue between those concerned, which should be pursued, the progress of work -- without assessment of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, or an adequate environmental management plan -- remains a major concern.

c)   Industrial agricultural exploitation and forest exploitation in the periphery of the property

Contacts were initiated between the managing authority of the property, the Sud Hevea Cameroon Company and the other local economic stakeholders to provide for joint actions to mitigate the effects of the implantation of these private operators. This led to the elaboration of a "Memorandum of Understanding" which is currently submitted for reflection to the key players in view of its forthcoming signature, and to a letter of commitment from the Sud Hevea Company, addressed to the management authority. Although this progress with the Sud Hevea Company should be welcomed, it remains that the report provides no information on concrete measures that have been taken.

Moreover, the report adds that the start of the planting project has, in conjunction with that of the Mekin Dam, enabled the opening of several routes used by poachers. The report does not give information about the state of the forest exploitation in the Biosphere Reserve, in the immediate vicinity of the property, and on the measures of sustainable management of the forest resources taken by the companies that have been attributed units of forestry development (UFD) in the Reserve.

d)    Poaching for bushmeat markets

The report indicates that the service in charge of managing the property continues to face various difficulties linked primarily to the lack of operational resources to tackle poaching. The development plan of the property must be evaluated and revised in 2013. Meanwhile, an action plan has been drawn up for 2013, although the report does not specify the content or resources mobilized for its implementation.

The report states that, apart from its own resources, the management authority of the property works together with the forestry and hunting control posts depending on the same ministry. These services are sometimes supported by other national services of which the gendarmerie, or the police or defense forces, during specific actions. Transborder cooperation for anti-poaching is also being implemented in the TRIDOM space (including the protected areas of Dja in Cameroon, Odzala in Congo and Minkébé in Gabon). The managemet authority of the property also provides support to the 18 vigilance and monitoring committees established in local communities living around. With the support of the Great Apes Project, two community wildlife management committees have been created and a simple wildlife management plan has been approved for the Malen V village, as well as community zoning of some hunting areas.

The report indicates a considerable patroling effort (foot and motorized patrols, fixed and mobile barriers), seizure of weapons, ammunition and large quantities of game (more than 3 tons of meat and a dozen ivory tusks seized in 2012). It does not, however, rule on the effectiveness of actions taken with respect to the stagnation or decline in poaching. Because of important energy and industrial projects it is feared that poaching problems will continue to increase, and it would be useful for the management authority to monitor the effectiveness of the anti-poaching combat in the boundaries of the property. This should be achieved with the development of transborder cooperation and the joint adoption of the MIST ecological monitoring system by the three countries in the TRIDOM space.

The report mentions numerous awareness-raising and environmental education activities that have been conducted by the management authority of the Reserve and various partners:  festivals, radio programmes, presentations and debates in schools, etc.. However, although there have been many activities in this domain, the report provides no information as to their effectiveness in terms of changes in attitudes and practices with regard to  the property.

The report also mentions that incentives for alternative activities to hunting have been implemented, such as training in traditional farming and agroforestry. RAPAC through the ECOFAC V project also finances the revival of  production chains in the Mekas loop, west of the property (honey, cocoa, fishing, etc..).

Moreover, in the framework of the sustainable conservation of the property supported by the Franz Weber Foundation, an education and awareness-raising campaign for the populations in the fight against poaching will be conducted in 2013. This activity will inform populations about the negative impacts of poaching on the environment and the risk of criminal sanctions.

e)   Strengthening of human and logistical resources of the management body of the property

The report states that 24 new officers were assigned to the property in 2012 for an updated total of 72 staff (including 16 managers and supervisors). These agents are divided into four branches, two of which are located on the outskirts of the Biosphere Reserve. The report also mentions the increase in the operating and investment budgets by the State Party in 2012. This effort should be pursued to improve the management effectiveness of the property.

The sustainable conservation of the property foresees in 2013 the development of a comprehensive personnel restructuring plan to enhance effectiveness of teams in the field, and the provision of motorized and aquatic  transportation equipment to eco-guards to improve supervision and control land and water areas of the property.

f)   Effective monitoring system of the biodiversity of the property

The State Party points out in its report that what little ecological research is currently ongoing in the Biosphere Reserve is that of the Great Apes Project. The ecological monitoring activities are not operational. However, the MIST ecological monitoring system was adopted in the framework of the TRIDOM partnership. A cooperation agreement is also being signed with FAE in respect to ecological monitoring activities. Therefore it is hoped that the establishment of an effective environmental monitoring can be realized in 2013, although the data acquisition is dependent on the establishment of a well-thought-out protocol for data collection and the operational capabilities of the management service.

g)   Delineation of the property

A map provided in the State Party’s report, specifies the size of the Faunal Wildlife Reserve itself, with a discontinuous prioity area of intervention and a peripheral zone that surrounds the entire property. This map is defined on the basis of the forest development units adjoining the site. However, the report does not provide the detailed description of the boundaries of these different areas, and only partially indicates the regulations in force. The projected activities of the property management service in 2013 include the revision of the boundaries, their materialization and maintenance. The terms of reference are being developed for this activity and will be submitted to the RAPAC for funding under the ECOFAC V Programme.

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

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN appreciate the efforts of the State Party, particularly as concerns staffing and increased operating and investment budgets for the property. They also highlight the commitment and work of the management authority of the property in the fight against anti-poaching in a difficult operating environment. The property management authority has begun a consultation process with economic operators working in the Biosphere Reserve, which, in 2013, should result in a Memorandum of Understanding between stakeholders in the efficient environmental management of the Reserve and the property itself. The revision of the management plan is also under study. These actions should provide a favorable institutional framework for the management of the property.

As concerns mining activity developed within and around the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the State Party’s decision to reduce by 20% the size of the exploitation zone of the Venture Capital Company in order to halt the encroachment observed in Dja Faunal Reserve. Nevertheless, they remain concerned that the exploitation planned by the Venture Capital Company could engender negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and recommend that the Committee request the State Party to undertake an assessment of these impacts in an ESIA to determine the challenges to maintaining the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the GEOVIC activities are limited on the ground and that the new impact study submitted in 2012 is still under consideration by the MINEDED and has not been revised in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.

They recall, however, that many exploration permits are still valid in the periphery of the property, and that they are a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. They also point out that the construction of the Mekin Dam is progressing and that it is essential that studies of its impact on the Outstanding Universal Value be carried out and submitted to the World Heritage Centre, and that steps be taken to evaluate and mitigate them. They welcome the commitment of Sud Hevea to contribute to reducing the impacts of industrial plantations, in a Memorandum of Understanding with the management authority of the property, and they recommend that the Committee request the State Party to provide detailed information on the concrete measures that have been taken. They believe that it is more urgent than ever to set up an ecological monitoring-evaluation system of the property and clearly define responsibilities in its implementation and in the containment of impacts, and mitigation or restoration of the environment in the event of unavoidable impacts. They hope that the funding from the Franz Weber Foundation will effectively lead to the establishment of a monitoring-evaluation system in 2013 and the implementation of activities to reduce the threats from the impacts of development projects around the property, strengthen the technical and operational capacity of the management body of the property, and encourage the involvement of local communities in the management of the property and the improvement of their living conditions.

Despite these advances, they consider that the property remains exposed to persistent threats. They also consider that the State Party should urgently submit the environmental impact study of the Mekin Dam and the impact study of the the Venture Capital Company’s  mining exploitation on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, as well as the overall development plan of the Dja Valley, for review by IUCN.

Finally, they recommend that the Committee maintain the possibility of an inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 38th session in 2014, if significant progress is not made before the end of 2013.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.1
Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon) (N 407)

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.1 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Notes with satisfaction that the State Party has undertaken an emergency safeguarding plan for the protected areas of Cameroon, and that this is evidenced by the assignment of agents and supplementary budgets for the property, and calls on the State Party to continue and strengthen this support;

4.  Welcomes the initiative of the State Party to revise the development plan for the property and to set up a framework for multi-stakeholder dialogue throughout the property and its periphery, as well as the funds obtained by the State Party from the Franz Weber Foundation to contribute to the sustainable conservation of the property over a five-year period; and also welcomes that this year the State Party has already undertaken a series of activities to mitigate the threats due to the impacts of development projects around the property, to strengthen the technical and operational capacities of the property’s management body, and to promote the involvement of local communities in the management of the property and the improvement of their living conditions;

5.  Further welcomes the decision of the State Party to reduce by 20% the size of the Venture Capital Company’s exploitation zone in order to halt encroachment observed by the Committee on the property, but considers that its proximity to the property could engender negative impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value and requests the State Party to undertake an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the operation and submit it to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

6.  Notes that the State Party is considering a moratorium on mining exploration and exploitation in protected areas and also calls on the State Party to validate this commitment by a text of appropriate laws;

7.  Also notes that, although no exploitation activity has begun exploration activities continue at the GEOVIC mining site, and reiterates its request to the State Party to suspend the GEOVIC mining operations until a new ESIA meeting international standards is conducted on the basis of the terms of reference that will be developed with the support of the Franz Weber Foundation and submitted to the World Heritage Centre;

8.  Expresses its concern about the potential impacts of the Mekin Dam, the consequences of which could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and in particular its integrity;

9.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, explicit measures taken to prevent, reduce and offset the negative effects of the industrial plantation project of Sud Hevea on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, following the Memorandum of Understanding;

10. Further notes that the means of action of the management authority of the property are too weak in regard to the issues at stake, particularly in terms of equipment and logistics, and that an efficient environmental monitoring system for the property is slow to materialize;

11. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, especially on progress made in mitigating threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014. 

Draft Decision:  37 COM 7B.1

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.1, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Notes with satisfaction that the State Party has undertaken an emergency safeguarding plan for the protected areas of Cameroon, and that this is evidenced by the assignment of agents and supplementary budgets for the property, and calls on the State Party to continue and strengthen this support;

4.  Welcomes the initiative of the State Party to revise the development plan for the property and to set up a framework for multi-stakeholder dialogue throughout the property and its periphery, as well as the funds obtained by the State Party from the Franz Weber Foundation to contribute to the sustainable conservation of the property over a five-year period; and also welcomes that this year the State Party has already undertaken a series of activities to mitigate the threats due to the impacts of development projects around the property, to strengthen the technical and operational capacities of the property’s management body, and to promote the involvement of local communities in the management of the property and the improvement of their living conditions;

5.  Further welcomes the decision of the State Party to reduce by 20% the size of the Venture Capital Company’s exploitation zone in order to halt encroachment observed by the Committee on the property, but considers that its proximity to the property could engender negative impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value and requests the State Party to undertake an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the operation and submit it to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

6.  Notes that the State Party is considering a moratorium on mining exploration and exploitation in protected areas and also calls on the State Party to validate this commitment by a text of appropriate laws;

7.  Also notes that, although no exploitation activity has begun exploration activities continue at the GEOVIC mining site, and reiterates its request to the State Party to suspend the GEOVIC mining operations until a new ESIA meeting international standards is conducted on the basis of the terms of reference that will be developed with the support of the Franz Weber Foundation and submitted to the World Heritage Centre;

8.  Expresses its concern about the potential impacts of the Mekin Dam, the consequences of which could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and in particular its integrity;

9.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, explicit measures taken to prevent, reduce and offset the negative effects of the industrial plantation project of Sud Hevea on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, following the Memorandum of Understanding;

10.  Further notes that the means of action of the management authority of the property are too weak in regard to the issues at stake, particularly in terms of equipment and logistics, and that an efficient environmental monitoring system for the property is slow to materialize;

11.  Considers that, in 2014, if significant progress is not made on the remaining recommendations set out in Decision 36 COM 7B.1, as well as on the new above-mentioned requests, the property will meet the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger contained in Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;

12.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, especially on progress made in mitigating threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014

Report year: 2013
Cameroon
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
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.


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