1.         Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda) (N 684)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1999-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1995-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 96,749
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

January 2003: joint UNESCO/IUCN mission  

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

A joint UNESCO/IUCN mission visited Uganda from 5 – 11 January 2003 to assess the state of conservation of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park World Heritage site, at the request of the 25th session of the World Heritage Committee (December 2001). The report of this mission, in English only, is available for consultation by States Parties.

 

The mission considered the overall integrity of the site, and found the following characteristics:

·  The boundary of the site is virtually intact but some sections are poorly defined;

·  Incidence of poaching as indicated by monitoring and patrol records is low with the possible exception of the southern parts of the park where the possible presence of landmines inhibits patrols.

·  The population sizes of some mammalian species are reduced. A small population of elephants (less than 10 individuals) remains. Buffalo disappeared from the site before its World Heritage designation. There are indications that there is a reduced range of duikers to higher elevations;

·  The amount and duration of snow cover, and the extent of glaciers has been progressively reduced;

·  There is an increased visitor impact, especially on the central hiking circuit;

·  Management staff is in control of the site;

·  No security forces are occupying any part of the site;

·  There is no illegal occupation of the site.

 

The mission concluded that the integrity of the site had not been significantly impacted by activities during the period in which it has been listed as World Heritage in Danger. The conditions that resulted in the site being inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1999 had improved dramatically. However, the integrity of the site remains vulnerable due to a number of threats, which if not managed or controlled could potentially adversely impact the integrity of the site. These include:

·  Progressive isolation of the site from the surrounding landscape, apart from the north where the North Rwenzori Forest Reserve provides an ecological corridor through to lower altitudes. This has interrupted the ecological gradients from the higher slopes to the lower slopes, and has impeded or will impede in the future the movement of biota along these gradients, and possibly have impacts on long-term resilience of the site to climate change;

·  A growing and predominantly poor human population living in areas adjacent to the site resulting in a continuation of consumptive use of natural resources and extensive cultivation that is progressively reducing the extent of previously undisturbed natural habitat in areas outside of the boundary of the Park;

·  Increasing impacts of tourism, concentrated in certain key locations resulting in localised adverse impacts that affect some important values of the site, including wetlands;

·  Global warming resulting in a progressive decline of the extent of glaciers, quantity and frequency of snow cover;

·  Flooding and landslides towards the sites boundary due to vegetation clearing and cultivation. Flooding at lower levels has been attributed by local people to the protected area rather than to the destructive land-use on steep slopes, creating dissatisfaction among communities and authorities with the existence of the Park;

·  Potential insecurity due to remaining pockets of rebel activities in the sub-region, although not in the site itself. There remains uncertainty regarding the precise location of anti-personnel weapons such as landmines within the site, although no evidence was provided that confirmed that there were ever landmines placed within the site;

·  Increasing demand for land for development, which might result in increased pressure and encroachment in the future.

 

The mission found that the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and its partners were aware of these threats and had identified, where possible, measures to avoid or contain them. The ability to achieve this was impeded by the situation of insecurity that prevailed over the period 1997 to 2001, and the lack of resources to enable effective management. The mission noted that the State Party would need to give the area more financial support if the management of the site is to be effectively carried out, in accordance with the obligations of the State Party under the World Heritage Convention. It is also clear that the site requires greater financial and technical assistance from external sources, to ensure that the essential management actions are identified and implemented.

The mission made 18 recommendations to the State Party on issues relating to security, the extent of the site, institutional and policy issues, the management framework, the boundary demarcation, staff capacity, infrastructure, community interaction, communication with other authorities and tourism. Among those 18 recommendations, the following are the most important to the Committee’s considerations regarding the possible removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger:

·  Site staff are to engage with the Security forces to declare key areas for tourism as landmine free zones;

·  UWA should rapidly examine staffing, infrastructure and budgetary deficiencies at the site to restore management effectiveness at a level justified by its World Heritage status;

·  The development of a Management Plan should be pursued as a matter of priority using an integrated approach. The Management Plan should include an assessment of staff training needs and requirements and a revised tourism strategy;

·  Park management should monitor and evaluate the key issues of tourism, resource sharing and movement of people across the Park boundary in accordance with the monitoring plan developed in the USAID/WWF project prior to 1998;

·  The completion of the boundary marking should be taken on as a priority activity, enlisting Local Council structures support to ensure the greatest possible acceptance by the community and authorities. A map indicating the precise surveyed and marked boundary should be compiled and lodged with the World Heritage Centre;

·  The programme to establish Community Protected Area Institutions should be implemented as soon as possible;

·  An analysis should be conducted of the manner in which climbing is undertaken in the site and how to reduce the environmental impacts of climbing expeditions.

 

The mission also recommends to develop trans-boundary cooperation with the adjacent Virunga National Park in DRC and to investigate the possibility of extending the site to the North Rwenzori Forest Reserve.

 

IUCN:

The new information provided above has been proposed on a consensual basis between IUCN and the Centre.

 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7A.7

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Noting that IUCN believes that the property's conditions have improved substantially since it was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1999 and that the State Party is showing increased commitment to the conservation of the property,

2. Commends the Uganda Wildlife Authority for the improvements to the management of the property and their efforts to protect the property in times of instability;

3. Invites the State Party to consider according a greater level of financial support to ensure the minimum level of effective property management, while also working with partners to seek further financial and technical support from external sources, especially for the development and implementation of a management plan for the property;

4. Recommends that the State Party establish co-operation between property staff and security forces to map out landmine-free zones for tourism in the Park; if necessary, the State Party may request the Chairperson of the Committee to approve modest financial assistance from the World Heritage Fund;

5. Recommends the State Party submit a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 addressing the UNESCO/IUCN mission recommendations and describing benchmarks and timeframes for monitoring progress in implementation of mission recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session in 2004 to enable it to consider removing the Rwenzori Mountain National Park from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

6. Decides to retain the Rwenzori Mountains National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 27 COM 8B.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following examination of state of conservation reports of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-03/27.COM/7A),;

2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: