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Simien National Park

Ethiopia
Factors affecting the property in 1999*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Land conversion
  • Other Threats:

    Loss of biodiversity

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Presence of armed groups
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Encroachment at the borders of the site
  • Road construction
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1999
Requests approved: 7 (from 1978-1996)
Total amount approved : 233,171 USD
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: The Regional authorities in Bahir Dar, where this site is located, disagreed with the Committee’s decision to include this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996. Since then the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Ethiopia, UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa and the Centre have continued to inform the Bahir Dar authorities on the meaning and implications of the Committee’s decision to include Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee noted that the responsibilities for the management of the Park had been transferred from the Central Authorities to the Region. A stakeholders’ meeting had been convened and had led to the formation of a ‘dialogue-group’ of various national and regional offices to discuss follow-up activities for the conservation of the Park. The meeting had called for the organization of a second stakeholders’ seminar, before June 1999, in collaboration with UNDP, Austria, UNESCO, UNCDF, Bahir Dar Regional Heads and donors. The second stakeholders’ seminar is expected to establish a strategy to: (i) minimize the human population, currently estimated at 8-10,000, in the Park; (ii) rehabilitate the Park and re-establish populations of selected species, such as the Walia Ibex that have moved out of the Park due to human presence and the cultivation of considerable areas of the Park; (iii) create an alternative to a road which currently goes through the Park; and (iv) establish a framework for co-ordination, including the possible setting up of an Inter-Agency Committee where donor participation will be invited, for the sustainable development of the Simen Mountains ecosystem. As suggested by the Committee, the Centre is in contact with the Ethiopian authorities and has been exploring the possibility for supporting the organisation of the second stakeholders’ meeting with the US$ 30,000 approved by the Committee in 1996 and which still remains unused.

New information: Ethiopian authorities have not yet responded to the letter transmitting the recommendations that the Committee made at its last session in Kyoto, Japan (1998).

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to examine information that may be available at the time of its session and take the appropriate decision thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations:

Twenty-second session of the Committee – paragraph number VII.6 Twenty-third session of the Bureau – paragraph number IV.5.

New information:  The Centre has yet to receive a response from the State Party to the letter transmitting the observations and recommendations of the twenty-third session of the Bureau (5 – 10 July 1999). However, IUCN requested to consult with relevant Ethiopian authorities in order to improve communications between UNESCO and the Regional authorities in Bahir Dar, who disagreed with the decision of the twentieth session of the Committee (Merida, Mexico, 1996) to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger. IUCN has not yet received any response to its requests. The complete lack of any written response from the State Party to repeated communications from the Bureau and the Committee is a continuing constraint to updating information on the state of conservation of this property and for planning measures for its rehabilitation.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1999
23 BUR IV.A.5
Simen National Park (Ethiopia)

The Bureau recalled that the regional authorities in Bahir Dar, where this site is located, disagreed with the Committee’s decision to include this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996. Since then the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Ethiopia, UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa and the Centre have continued to inform the Bahir Dar authorities on the meaning and implications of the Committee’s decision to include Simen National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee noted that the responsibilities for the management of the Park had been transferred from the central authorities to the region.  A stakeholders’ meeting had been convened and had led to the formation of a ‘dialogue-group’ of various national and regional offices to discuss follow-up activities for the conservation of the Park. The meeting had called for the organization of a second stakeholders’ seminar, before June 1999, in collaboration with UNDP, Austria, UNESCO, UNCDF, Bahir Dar Regional Heads and donors. The second stakeholders’ seminar is expected to establish a strategy to: (i) minimize the human population in the Park; (ii) rehabilitate the Park and re-establish populations of selected species including the Walia Ibex; (iii) create an alternative to a road which currently goes through the Park; and (iv) establish a framework for co-ordination, including the possible setting up of an Inter-Agency Committee with the participation of donors, for the sustainable development of the Simen Mountains ecosystem. As suggested by the Committee, the Centre has informed the Ethiopian authorities that the US$ 30,000 approved by the Committee in 1996 and which still remains unused, could be made available as a contribution for the organization of the second stakeholders’ meeting.

The Bureau expressed its concern over the lack of adequate communication between the Centre and the regional authorities in Bahir Dar on the state of conservation of this site. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to consult with the UN Resident Co-ordinator for Ethiopia and the Central Government of Ethiopia to develop a strategy to improve communications with the regional authorities in Bahir Dar. IUCN informed the Bureau that it is assisting the national Government of Ethiopia on environmental conservation projects and will try to use its contacts to improve communications between the Centre and the regional authorities in Bahir Dar. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to submit a report on the outcome of their efforts in this regard and recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

23 COM X.A.6
SOC: Simen National Park (Ethiopia)

X.6 Simen National Park (Ethiopia)

The Committee noted with concern that the Centre has not yet received a response from the State Party to the letter transmitting the observations and recommendations of the twenty-third session of the Bureau (5 - 10 July 1999). IUCN had requested to consult with relevant authorities, particularly those in Bahir Dar, who disagreed with the decision of the twentieth session of the Committee (Merida, Mexico, 1996) to include Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger. IUCN has not yet received any response to its requests in this regard. The lack of any written response from the State Party to repeated communications from the Bureau and the Committee had been a continuing constraint to updating information on the state of conservation of this property and for planning measures for its rehabilitation.

In a letter dated 28 October 1999 to the Director of the Centre, the Secretary General of the Ethiopian National Agency for UNESCO has:

  • Thanked the Centre for the unreserved concern and efforts to rehabilitate Simen;
  • Pointed out that the Regional Government has rehabilitated the site and the number of Waliya Ibex has increased to 550 and that the numbers of other animals are on the rise;
  • Informed the Centre that studies are underway for finding solutions to settlements around the Park and that 75% of the work has been completed and that analyses will be finalised and the results and recommendations made available soon; and
  • Requested that UNESCO consider removing the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger, given the high priority assigned to its conservation by the Regional authorities.

During a meeting between the Centre and a staff member of the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa it was agreed that a site visit may be planned by a UNESCO team comprising staff from the Addis Ababa Office and the Centre to explain to the regional authorities the significance of the inclusion of Simen in the List of World Heritage in Danger and possible ways in which the Committee could assist in the rehabilitation efforts in and around Simen.

The Committee decided to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee recommended that the Chairperson undertake a mission to Ethiopia to meet relevant national and regional authorities and to re-establish a basis for regular exchange of formal communications between the State Party and the Committee, Centre and IUCN for monitoring the state of conservation of the property and mitigating threats to its integrity. The Committee requested that the Centre consult with the Permanent Delegation of Ethiopia to UNESCO as well as the UNESCO Office in Addis Ababa to study the need for a UNESCO mission to the Bahir Dar Region and the site in order to prepare the work and negotiations to be undertaken by the Chairperson of the Committee.

The Committee may wish to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Committee may recommend that the Chairperson of the Committee undertake a mission to Ethiopia in order to meet with relevant national and regional authorities and to re-establish a basis for regular exchange of formal communications between the State Party and the Committee, Centre and IUCN for monitoring the state of conservation of the property and mitigating threats to its integrity.

Report year: 1999
Ethiopia
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1996-2017
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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