1.         Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania) (N 506)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1989

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

September 2002: World Heritage Centre mission in Mauritania 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

During a Centre mission to Mauritania from 21 to 28 September 2002, meetings were held with the Banc d’Arguin Park Management and the GTZ Project office staff at Nouakchott. The Park Director also visited UNESCO Headquarters for a meeting with IUCN and Centre staff on 11 April 2003. The following points were noted:


Construction of the road from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou :

The first stone of the road was placed on 29 July 2002 by the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The 470km road will cost about US$77 million, and is supported by FADES, BID and the State of Mauritania. The road is planned to detour around the Park at a distance of about 4km. A copy of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out in 2001 was provided to the Centre with the comments from the Banc d’Arguin Park Management (PNBA) on 7 April 2003. The Park Management considers that this study is not professionally adequate and that the potential consequences of the road project on the Park were not taken into account.

IUCN has received information raising serious concerns about the EIA and its insufficient analysis of potential threats to the natural values of the site. For example, it seems that no study was carried on potential pollution to water resources, both chemical and organic, resulting from the construction of the road. In addition, the Moroccan agency that carried out the EIA did not consult with the Park Management unit and, as a result, there are many errors and gaps throughout the report in relation to the natural values of the Park and current conservation and management activities.


Oil explorations:

The Australian company “Woodside” found oil 2 years ago for the first time in the region surrounding the Park. A number of explorations have been extremely successful in finding relatively large quantities of gas and oil. It is expected that the zone “Chinguity 1” will be exploited first where it is expected to hold approximately 1.5 billion barrels of oil. Three other companies are present in the region and the land around the Park has been divided up into blocks for exploration. The World Heritage site is located within blocks 9 and 10 attributed to IPG, a Russian-English-Mauritanian consortium, that is apparently now carrying out seismic explorations / aerial inspections. According to the Centre mission, «Woodside» carried out a preliminary EIA and a copy of this in English had been sent to the Minister of the Environment. However, the Park Management, IUCN and the Centre have not yet received a copy of this report. GTZ has informed IUCN and the Centre that its study exploring the legality of oil exploitation in national parks in Mauritania and in particular Banc d’Arguin National Park, is not yet finalized. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.7

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Notes that the road construction from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou has begun;

2. Urges the State Party to organize a meeting to define the real impact of this road on the Park and to ensure that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study complies with internationally recognized standards, in collaboration with interested donors;

3. Notes that oil exploration in the vicinity of the Park is being carried out, with indications that large reserves in the area may be exploited in the near future, causing a potentially serious threat to the marine life of the Park;

4. Requests that the State Party provide a copy of the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) study and the oil/gas exploration EIA to IUCN and to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004;

5. Encourages the State Party to submit an international assistance request to train the governmental specialists on the analysis of EIA documents regarding oil/gas explorations.