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Virunga National Park

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Factors affecting the property in 1997*
  • Civil unrest
  • Financial resources
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Land conversion
  • Mining
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Political uncertainties,
  • New settlements in the Park,
  • Gold mining,
  • Livestock grazing,
  • Destruction of vegetation,
  • Poaching,
  • Agricultural encroachment,
  • Over-exploitation of fish populations,
  • Lack of financial resources
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1997
Requests approved: 7 (from 1980-1994)
Total amount approved : 177,160 USD
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1997

Since the conclusion of the last session of the Committee (Merida, 1996), Eastern Zaire has become destabilized and military conflict appears to continue spreading to other parts of the country.  IUCN has received reports that indicate that in both these World Heritage Sites in Danger, infrastructure had been destroyed and wildlife populations decimated. IUCN and the Centre continue to maintain contacts with UNHCR and other concerned agencies and will provide up-to-date reports on both Virunga and Garamba, at the time of the Bureau meeting. 

Action Required

The Bureau joins the international community in calling for peace in Zaire and in voicing its serious concerns over the impacts of armed conflicts in Eastern Zaire on World Heritage Sites located there.. The Bureau recommends that the Committee retain Virunga and Garamba in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Given the uncertain situation in Zaire, the Bureau may treat the Virunga and Garamba National Parks as exceptional cases and consider setting aside a sum of US$ 75,000 as emergency assistance from the World Heritage Fund to enable the Centre and IUCN to plan, as soon as conditions permit, a mission to assess their state of conservation, prepare rehabilitation plans and implement actions that would address livelihood needs of people resident near those sites.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1997

IUCN has provided a 4-page report, including a map showing locations of major battles, refugee camps and rebel activity in relation to Virunga and three other World Heritage sites in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The situation in and around Virunga is unstable with militia groups threatening human and wildlife populations. Aerial census of wildlife populations has not been undertaken since 1995; there are frequent reports of deforestation, poaching and illegal gold mining in the Park. Many automatic weapons left behind by fleeing soldiers have been claimed by local inhabitants and poachers and greatly endanger the life of the small number of Park personnel attempting to carry out anti-poaching activities. IUCN has listed 14 recommendations for restoring the Park; however, it has noted that the high-level mission to Kinshasa, recommended by the Bureau at its June 1997 session, to remind the national authorities of their responsibilities under the Convention and determine the policy of the new Government on nature conservation, is the most urgent priority action needed at this time.

 

 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1997
21 BUR IV.A.4
Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Garamba National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Since the twentieth session of the Committee, the eastern part Democratic Republic of the Congo has become further destabilized and military action has spread to other parts of the country. Reports received indicate that in both these sites, infrastructure had been destroyed and wildlife populations decimated. The Bureau noted that IUCN and the Centre will continue to maintain contacts with UNHCR and conservation NGOs and provide up-to-date reports on both Virunga and Garamba, at the time of the twenty-first session of the Committee. 

The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to contact relevant authorities of the new Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to arrange for a high-level mission to meet with senior officials to remind them of their responsibilities under the World Heritage Convention and to discuss restoration and rehabilitation of the country's five World Heritage sites. This mission should initiate project proposals in consultation with the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Implementation of some of the projects may be financed by emergency assistance from the World Heritage Fund. A long-term policy and strategic vision for World Heritage conservation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the main need at the moment. The Centre should co-ordinate its activities with those of other UN agencies and conservation NGOs active in the country. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to provide detailed reports on both sites, at the twenty-first extraordinary session of the Bureau to be held on 28 and 29 November 1997, in Naples, Italy.

21 COM VII.B.13
SOC: Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

VII.13 Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

IUCN provided a detailed report, including a map showing locations of major areas of armed conflict, refugee camps and rebel activity in relation to Virunga and three other World Heritage sites in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The situation in and around Virunga is unstable with militia groups threatening human population and wildlife. Aerial census of wildlife has not been undertaken since 1995; there are frequent reports of deforestation, poaching and illegal gold mining in the Park. Many automatic weapons left behind by fleeing soldiers have been claimed by local inhabitants and poachers and greatly endanger the life of the small number of Park personnel attempting to carry out anti-poaching activities. IUCN has listed fourteen recommendations for restoring the Park; however, it has noted that the high-level mission to Kinshasa, recommended by the Bureau at its June 1997 session, to remind the national authorities of their responsibilities under the Convention and determine the policy of the new Government on nature conservation, is the most urgent priority action needed at this time.

The Committee decided to retain Virunga in the List of World Heritage in Danger and requested the Director-General of UNESCO to send a high-level mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as soon as possible.

The Committee may wish to adopt the following:

"The Committee decides to retain Virunga in the List of World Heritage in Danger and requested the Director General of UNESCO to send a high-level mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo as soon as possible".

Report year: 1997
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1994-present
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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