1.         Simien National Park (Ethiopia) (N 9)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1996-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1978-1996)
Total amount approved: USD 233,171
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 1996: technical mission; April 2001: expert mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-fourth session of the Committee – paragraph VIII.8
Twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau - paragraph IV.7 

New information: In accordance with the recommendation of the last session of the Committee held in Cairns, Australia (November - December 2000) a Centre/IUCN mission was fielded to the site from 8 to 13 April 2001. A detailed report on the conclusions and recommendations of the mission will be submitted to the Bureau at the time of its session.

Preliminary research carried out by IUCN in preparation for the mission revealed that a high-level mission to the site was fielded in March 2000 by the Amhara Regional Government which is now directly responsible for the Park. In March 2001, IUCN received a report of that mission produced by the Swiss Centre for Development and Environment. A high-level Simen Mountains Development and Conservation Co-ordination Committee, chaired by the Vice-President of the Regional Government, has been set up to consider the recommendations of the mission that relate to: (a) Park boundary adjustment; (b) re-alignment of the road; (c) development in the buffer zone and beyond; (d) relocation of some villages from the centre of the Park; and (e) integration of tourism into management.

It has recently been reported to IUCN that there are an estimated 1,450 households inside the Park and the human population growth in the Park is around 1.5 - 2.0%. The total cultivated area in the Park, about 24%, has not increased significantly since the time of its establishment in 1969, but grazing pressure from livestock on forests and grasslands has intensified and is particularly heavy near human settlements. The endangered Walia ibex tend to have some natural protection in the steep escarpments in the eastern boundary of the Park.  Large areas of the unique afro-alpine habitat in the region, which are the main stronghold for the Ethiopian wolf, remain outside the boundaries of the Park and some efforts are underway to protect them by modifying the boundaries of the Park and to reduce poaching on the ibex. However, a systematic monitoring regime to track wildlife population trends is not yet in place.

IUCN notes that a road has been built through the Park to Chennek Camp and extends southwards. The road has had erosion impacts but has provided greater access to the Park's resources, including for tourism development. Enforcement of regulations is weak and there appears to be little control of livestock grazing which poses significant threat to natural habitats in the Park.

IUCN will review the report of the mission to this site and will provide a verbal recommendation to the Bureau in June 2001.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to review the conclusions and recommendations of the April 2001 mission to the site expected to be available at the time of its session and take appropriate decisions.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Principal issues:

Controlling illegal settlements, agriculture, poaching and road construction and  mitigating their impacts; co-ordination between conservation and development and boundary re-alignments to improve better conservation of the World Heritage values of the site.

New information:

At its twenty-fifth session held in June 2001, the Bureau reviewed a report of a two-person team that visited the site from 8 to 13 April 2001. The Bureau recommended that the “Committee adopt the rehabilitation measures proposed by the expert mission” organized by the Centre and IUCN.  The full text of the Bureau’s recommendations to the Committee is included in paragraph 33 of the document WHC-01/CONF.208/3; of particular importance are the specific benchmarks adopted by the Bureau for the removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger: (a) the re-alignment of the boundary of the Park to exclude the villages along the boundary of the Park; (b) the extension of the Park to include at least Mesarerya and Lemalino Wildlife Reserves; (c) significant and sustainable reduction in the human population density within the Park, especially within the core area; and (d) effective conservation within the extended National Park of a larger population of Walia Ibex and Simien Fox. As of 15 October 2001, there has been no formal response from the Ethiopian National or the Amhara Regional authorities to the recommendations of the Bureau transmitted to them by the Centre.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 25 BUR V.29-33

V.29       The Bureau learned that a Centre/IUCN mission was fielded to the site from 8 to 13 April 2001 and noted the detailed report on the conclusions and recommendations of the mission submitted as WHC-2001/CONF.205/INF.7.

V.30       The Bureau was informed that a high-level mission to the site had been fielded in March 2000 by the Amhara Regional Government which is now directly responsible for the Park. As a result of that mission, a high-level Simen Mountains Development and Conservation Co-ordination Committee, chaired by the Vice-President of the Regional Government, has been set up to consider the recommendations of the mission that relate to: (a) Park boundary adjustment; (b) re-alignment of the road; (c) development in the buffer zone and beyond; (d) relocation of some villages from the centre of the Park; and (e) integration of tourism into management.

V.31       There are an estimated 1,450 households inside the Park and the human population growth in the Park is around 1.5 - 2.0%. The total cultivated area in the Park, about 24%, has not increased significantly since the time of its establishment in 1969, but grazing pressure from livestock on forests and grasslands has intensified and is particularly heavy near human settlements. The endangered Walia Ibex tends to have some natural protection in the steep escarpments in the eastern boundary of the Park.  Large areas of the unique afro-alpine habitat in the region, which are the main stronghold for the Ethiopian wolf, remain outside the boundaries of the Park and some efforts are underway to protect them by modifying the boundaries of the Park and to reduce poaching on the ibex. However, a systematic monitoring regime to track wildlife population trends is not yet in place.

V.32       A road that has been built through the Park to Chennek Camp and extending southwards has had erosion impacts and has provided greater access to the Park's resources, including for tourism development. Enforcement of regulations is weak; livestock grazing, which poses significant threats to natural habitats in the Park, needs to be controlled in order to preserve the World Heritage values of the site.

V.33       The Bureau thanked the Government of Ethiopia, and in particular the Government of the Amhara National Regional State, for inviting the mission and assisting the work of the mission team. The Bureau noted with satisfaction that the declaration of Simen as a World Heritage site in Danger has probably encouraged donors such as GEF (Global Environmental Facility), initiating negotiations with the Bureau of Agriculture of the Amhara Regional State for designing and developing conservation projects. The Bureau recommended that the Committee adopt the benchmarks established by the mission team for the Committee’s consideration of the eventual removal of Simen from the List of World Heritage in Danger, as follows: i.e. (i) re-alignment of the boundary and acceptance of the new boundaries and the associated conservation laws by local communities; (ii) exclusion of villages along the boundary of the Park from within the World Heritage site, as proposed by the management plan; (iii) extension of the Park to include the Mesarerya and Lemalino Wildlife Reserves, and initiation of steps to include the Ras Dejen Wildlife Reserve; (iv) resettlement of all human populations from the core zone of the Park and recent villages like Muchilla and Kewa, and significant and sustainable reduction of the population and environmental impacts of the extended Gich village in co-ordination with the indigenous communities; and  (v) effective conservation and demonstration of increases in the numbers of populations of Walia Ibex and Simien Fox within the extended boundaries of the Park/World Heritage area.

Decision Adopted: 25 COM VIII.30-31

VIII.30 The Committee noted that the Bureau, at its twenty-fifth session held in June 2001, had reviewed a report of an IUCN/Centre mission that visited the site from 8 to 13 April 2001 and recommended the adoption of the following specific benchmarks for the future monitoring of the state of conservation of Simen and its eventual removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger: (a) the realignment of the boundary of the Park to exclude the villages along the boundary of the Park; (b) the extension of the Park to include at least Mesarerya and Lemalino Wildlife Reserves; (c) significant and sustainable reduction in the human population density within the Park, especially within the core area; and (d) effective conservation within the extended National Park of a larger population of Walia Ibex and Simien Fox. The Centre had transmitted the Bureau's recommendations to the Committee by a letter dated 11 July 2001, but has not yet received a response.

VIII.31 The Committee adopted the benchmarks proposed by the Bureau and referred to above as a basis for the future monitoring of progress in improving the state of conservation of Simen and invited the State Party to formally respond to the letter from the Centre transmitting the above-mentioned recommendations. The Committee urged the State Party and its site-level partners in project execution to be cognizant of the need to implement the project in close consultation with all stakeholders, and particularly local communities under consideration. The Committee recommended that the Centre and IUCN collaborate with the State Party to raise international awareness for the conservation of this site and mobilize necessary financial resources to implement rehabilitation measures and to ensure the eventual removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger as soon as possible. The Committee decided to retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger.