Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
- Financial resources
- Ground transport infrastructure
- Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
- Illegal activities
- Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Lack of Management Plan;
- Lack of funding;
- New railway;
- Proposed reduction of the protected area;
- Refugees from Liberia
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Total amount approved : 405,222 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**
November 1988: June-July 1992: UNESCO field visit; May 1993: joint UNESCO/UNDP/IUCN mission; 1994: 2nd expert mission; August-September 2000: expert mission with UNDP
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001
Twenty-fourth session of the Committee – paragraph VIII.9
Twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau - paragraph IV.8
New information: The Centre has been co-operating with the Fauna and Flora International (FFI), a conservation NGO working with the governments of the two States Parties, and with Liberia which embraces parts of the Mt Nimba ecosystem. Two meetings to promote dialogue among the three countries, FFI, the Centre and other stakeholders were planned for 2001. The meetings were intended to contribute to the long-term conservation of Mt Nimba by: establishing and encouraging contacts between technical staff, site managers, decision-makers and local community representatives to share information and experience; and increase harmonised management planning and practices among the three countries sharing the Mt Nimba ecosystem. The two meetings planned for 2001 were seen as fora to bring together various stakeholders, including the private sector, and promote international co-operation for the conservation of Mt Nimba. These meetings were also to be linked to the GEF Project that is being elaborated for the conservation of the site with the participation of FFI.
The first meeting, scheduled for the first half of 2001 had to be indefinitely postponed because of instability in the border regions between the three countries. Considerable numbers of refugees fleeing the war in Liberia have entered the ecosystem in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea and have had direct negative impacts on the biodiversity of Mt Nimba.
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001
Mining activities in areas immediately outside the site and potential impacts; refugee influx from neighbouring countries; planning of conservation projects with donors and partners.
Two tri-national (Côte d’ Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia) meetings were held in Abidjan and Man, Côte d’Ivoire, on 11 September, and from 12 – 14 September 2001, respectively. The World Heritage site is shared by two of them; i.e. Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. The third country, Liberia, has yet to ratify the World Heritage Convention. The meetings were jointly financed by the World Heritage Fund, the Rio Tinto Plc. and the Governments of Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, in cooperation with several conservation NGOs, particularly Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Conservation International (CI), Bird Life International (BLI), and the Netherlands Committee for IUCN. As reported to the twenty-fifth session of the Bureau in June 2001, these meetings are intended to contribute to the long-term conservation of the Mount Nimba Massif by: (i) establishing and encouraging contacts between technical staff, site managers, local decision makers and local community representatives to share information and experience; and (ii) increasing harmonization of management planning and practice among the three countries sharing the Mount Nimba ecosystem.
The one-day seminar on the 11 September 2001 was designed to sensitise Government authorities on the importance of regional co-operation for the protection of Mount Nimba. The second, technical meeting from 12 to 14 September discussed in detail basic issues of cross-border co-operation, national and regional problems facing Mount Nimba, the value of a regional approach and the biodiversity conservation at the regional level. The meeting put in place a strategy for continued dialogue for future cooperation for the conservation of the Mount Nimba ecosystem for the benefit of the three countries. The meeting in Man decided to hold a second meeting before the end of 2001 in Conakry, in the Republic of Guinea. The goal of the second meeting is to “initiate a trinational dialogue for the conservation of Mount Nimba”, and the objectives are to: validate the problems realized by the Man meeting; identify the strategy and tools for the conservation of Mount Nimba; propose a protocol for long-term collaboration between the three countries for joint planning and conservation of Mount Nimba; and prioritise national and regional actions. The two meetings were the first trinational event on Mount Nimba. Participants at the Man meeting included representatives from local Governments, local development interest groups, village leaders, protected area managers, UNESCO and the MAB Programme, mining industry, water and forest management authorities and groups concerned with refugees and settlements. The meetings also brought for the first time, Rio Tinto, a mining company, to dialogue with conservation stakeholders interested in the long-term protection of Mount Nimba.
The GEF Focal point at UNDP in Guinea and Mr Salamady Toure, the Director of CEGEN, have informed the Centre that the first three components of the GEF/PDF-B grants for the Mount Nimba (UNDP-GEF Project Gui/2000/31 financed by the World Heritage Fund and GEF) have been completed. The activities of this project comprise the following: (a) identification of the elements for the preparation of guidelines for integrated management of Mount Nimba and its surroundings; (b) building local and national technical and institutional capacity with a view to improving management; (c) establishing support services, such as communication, monitoring, promotion and alternative livelihood options for communities to ensure Mount Nimba conservation; and (d) preparation of a detailed long-term, Integrated Development Project for the Mount Nimba region. UNDP has requested the Centre to propose the Terms of Reference and a consultant to undertake a mission to Guinea in order to prepare component (d). The second phase of the UNDP-GEF Project is expected to last over a period of 7 to 10 years with a total budget of US$ 8m. GEF has agreed in principle to provide US$6m; an additional US$2 – 4m will be sought from other donors. A donors’ Round Table organized by UNDP, will be held during the first week of November 2001 in Conakry for this purpose. The Centre is expected to play a lead role as the executing agency of the Integrated Development Project. It is hoped that in the design of that project benchmarks and success indicators that could facilitate the Committee‘s efforts to track the state of conservation of the sites and its eventual considerations on the removal of Mount Nimba from the List of World Heritage in Danger may be included.
In Man discussions were also held concerning the setting up of a Mount Nimba Foundation. Guinea is still keen to establish the Foundation to enable it to put in place sustained support mechanisms for Mount Nimba. At Man the participants were informed that Côte d’Ivoire is setting up an agency for the management of protected areas (PCGAP) with financial assistance from the World Bank and the European Union. PGGAP will have responsibility for the management of Mount Nimba and other World Heritage sites in Côte d’Ivoire and the mandate to mobilize funds from international sources for Côte d’ Ivoire. It would therefore be difficult to set up a common Foundation for all three countries sharing Mount Nimba. The Man meeting requested the Centre and FFI to assist Guinea with a consultant to study the feasibility of setting up a Foundation, and look into the possibility of utilising some of the funds that will become available under the GEF project as initial seed money for establishing the Foundation.
The Committee may recall that a donor’s Round Table meeting was held at the Centre for Scientific and Technical Documentation (CEDUST) in Conakry in April 1996 and that the conclusions of that Round Table were reported to the twentieth session of the Bureau in June 1996. The Guinean mining company NIMCO, reported at that time that it would donate US$500,000 each year for the conservation of Mount Nimba as soon as the mine became operational. The company has since then left Guinea and the promised funds were never made available. The Guinean Government is currently negotiating with other mining companies mainly Billiton (from South Africa) and EURONIMBA (a concession of European Union). These two companies are currently studying various environmentally friendly options on how to control polluted waste waters and avoid sedimentation and erosion into rivers which supply drinking water to people down stream. The companies estimates that around 80 million tons of tailing will be produced each year, and hope to construct a dam where the tailings can be contained and allowed to percolate down into the soil without runoff. The companies also plan to forgo the mining of about 50 million tons of rich iron-ore in some targeted areas of the mountain for environmental and ecological reasons. The companies are studying ways to avoid bringing a large work force and their families near the mining areas by relocating living quarters away from the mining zone.
To guarantee the application of rigorous environmental management standards, an “International Memorandum of Understanding” or Accord is under preparation to be established between the mining companies and the Government of Guinea and to be overseen by UN Agencies (UNESCO –World Heritage Centre, UNEP, UNDP, FAO etc) and international non-governmental organizations (IUCN, FFI, WWF, BLI etc). The Memorandum will bind the companies to “good behaviour” in biodiversity conservation vis-à-vis their mining activities near Mount Nimba Nature Reserve of Guinea. The companies have expressed interest to put aside US$18 per ton of iron ore produced for the conservation of the environment in Guinea and particularly in the Mount Nimba area; annually, an estimated 800 million tons will be produced by the companies.
The mining activities in the Mount Nimba massif have to be carefully controlled for their environmental impacts. The parts of the Mount Nimba ecosystem in Liberia, the only part that is not World Heritage, has undergone significant transformation since the 1950s due to mining activities, shifting cultivation and human settlements. The area includes the East Nimba and West Nimba National Forests, gazetted in the 1960s. In the late 1970s IUCN recommended that these two forests be connected, other important adjacent areas added, and the entire area set aside as a strict nature reserve. The Liberian Mining Corporation continues to have a caretaker role in the administration of the affairs of Mount Nimba, while the Forestry Development Authority is the other major governmental authority involved in the area. There has been no organized conservation programme for Mount Nimba on the Liberian side as there has been in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 BUR V.34-35
Mount Nimba Nature Reserve (Guinea/Côte d’Ivoire)
V.34 The Bureau learned that the Centre has been co-operating with the Fauna and Flora International (FFI), a conservation NGO working with the Governments of the two States Parties, and with Liberia which embraces parts of the Mt Nimba ecosystem. Two meetings to promote dialogue among the three countries, FFI, the Centre and other stakeholders were planned for 2001. The meetings were intended to contribute to the long-term conservation of Mt Nimba by: establishing and encouraging contacts between technical staff, site managers, decision-makers and local community representatives to share information and experience; and increasing harmonised management planning and practices among the three countries sharing the Mt Nimba ecosystem. The two meetings planned for 2001 were seen as forums to bring together various stakeholders, including the private sector, and for promoting international co-operation for the conservation of Mt Nimba. These meetings were also to be linked to the GEF Project that is being elaborated for the conservation of the site with the participation of FFI. Unfortunately, the first meeting, scheduled for the first half of 2001 had to be indefinitely postponed because of instability in the border regions between the three countries. Considerable numbers of refugees fleeing the war in Liberia have entered the ecosystem in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea and have had direct negative impacts on the biodiversity of Mt Nimba.
V.35 The Bureau expressed serious concerns over the resurgence of a refugee influx into the Mt Nimba Nature Reserve and requested the Centre and IUCN to contact the States Parties, FFI and other partners to ascertain the impacts of refugee activities on the values of the site and ways and means by which those impacts could be mitigated. The Bureau asked the Centre and IUCN to submit a report, based on their findings, to the twenty-fifth session of the Committee in December 2001. In addition, the Bureau requested the Centre to report to the forthcoming session of the Committee on the plans for the organisation of the two stakeholders' meetings in 2001, and the progress achieved in the design and development of the GEF project.
The Committee may wish to adopt the following:
"The Committee congratulates the two States Parties, UNDP and the conservation NGOs for starting the tri-partite dialogue for the conservation of the overall Mount Nimba ecosystem and invites the Government of Liberia to consider becoming a signatory to the World Heritage Convention as soon as possible. In the meantime, the Committee invites the Government of Liberia to consider implementing the 1970 IUCN recommendation to gazette East and West Mount Nimba Forests as strict nature reserves, develop a project based on the two strict nature reserves to participate in the tri-national initiative and in due course and following ratification of the Convention, consider nominating the two strict nature reserves for inclusion in the World Heritage site currently shared by Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. The Committee urges the Government of Liberia to co-operate with UNDP and the conservation NGOs to undertake a rapid biodiversity assessment of the two reserves to determine their potential for inclusion within the World Heritage site shared by Guinea and Côte d‘Ivoire.
The Committee requests that the Centre and IUCN assist the three countries in organizing the second tri-national meeting in order to continue the dialogue and to identify a consultant who could prepare with UNDP/GEF and Guinea a detailed long-term, Integrated Development Project for Mount Nimba. The Committee asks the Centre to collaborate with all conservation NGOs to study the modalities for establishing the Foundation for Mount Nimba in Guinea, and the feasibility to utilize parts of the GEF funds to be made available for the Integrated Development Project for Mount Nimba for launching the Foundation . The Committee requests that the States Parties, CEGEN and others co-operate to elaborate the International Memorandum of Understanding for thorough review by the collaborating UN agencies and conservation NGOs prior to its adoption by the Governments. The Committee decides that the site be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger".
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”).