Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania) (N 156)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1981
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/156/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 59,500
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/156/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
2010: Joint reactive monitoring mission WHC/IUCN
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Potential impacts of a hydro-electric project in Kenya;
Reduced and degraded water resources;
Potential impact of optical cables’ installation;
Proposed road crossing the northern part of the property
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/156/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014
On 1 February 2014, the State Party submitted a detailed state of conservation report. An executive summary of this report is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/156/documents. The report includes details of the following:
- The report re-confirms that the construction of a proposed road section traversing the park has been abandoned. A national transport infrastructure Master Plan for the period 2013-30, financed by the State Party of Japan, has been completed in February 2013. The Plan is currently subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment prior to approval, and is expected to address the Committee’s concern about the proposed road through northern Serengeti and its potential alternatives;
- Strengthening of institutions concerned with protection of the critical Mara River Basin, and restoration of catchment forests on the Mau escarpment in Kenya, thus ensuring improved river flows throughout the year;
- An escalation of poaching, particularly for elephants and rhinos, and a corresponding increase in the number of firearms confiscated. Measures taken by the authorities to strengthen anti-poaching efforts included deployment of 41 additional rangers and 6 extra patrol vehicles within the property, as well as implementation of a broader nation-wide anti-poaching operation involving all security agencies (including the army);
- Continued efforts to control the invasive plants Opuntia sp., Amaranthus sp. and Argemone mexicana through physical removal are reported to be successful; however no information is provided about the invasive species Datura stramonium. In spite of a search, the presence of Parthenium hyposphorous, which has started invading neighbouring Masai Mara in Kenya, has not been confirmed in the property;
- Development and approval of a new fire management plan for the period 2014-19 which is scheduled to be implemented in July 2014 subject to budgetary approvals;
- Outreach activities to address human-wildlife conflict (especially elephant crop raiding) and support community-based development and livelihood improvement projects. Success has also been registered with the introduction of an additional community-based savings and credit scheme;
- Consultations over the incorporation of land bordering Lake Victoria at Speke Gulf into the park are advancing, with increased support from stakeholders and government leaders;
- Continued joint efforts between Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and Serengeti National Park to evaluate road surfacing options, particularly for the heavily-used Lodware-Naabi Hill-Seronera main road section. A consultant engineer was engaged in 2012 to carry out a feasibility study for the best way to stabilize the road. This study is yet to be completed.
- Difficulties encountered in reviving the multi-stakeholder ‘Serengeti Ecosystem Forum’.
The State Party also notes that water scarcity is a persistent problem within the property and requests technical and financial assistance from the World Heritage Centre to carry out a detailed hydrological survey to determine the maximum carrying capacity of water use in the property.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The escalation of elephant and rhino poaching in the property is of significant concern and is also affecting other natural properties in Tanzania and across the African continent. Whilst the authorities are undertaking efforts to contain the situation in Serengeti, a broader approach to solving the illicit trade in ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife products is required. It is recommended that the Committee recognize that a concerted international effort is required to curb this trafficking, without which the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Serengeti and other World Heritage properties will remain under intense threat.
The fact that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is underway for the Comprehensive Transport and Trade System Development Master Plan is welcomed and it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to take into account the guidance provided in the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment. The State Party must ensure that this Assessment is carried out in an open, transparent and consultative way so that scientific advice and the concerns of the wider public are incorporated into decisions over the alignment of major strategic roads in and around the property. The Committee is recommended to reiterate its call to the international community to support an alternative to the north road through Serengeti. The continued joint efforts between Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and Serengeti National Park to evaluate road-surfacing options for the heavily used Lodware-Naabi Hill-Seronera road are noted; and it is considered that prior to a decision on the method for stabilizing this road, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be carried out to asses the impacts of the different options and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review.
While noting the difficulties encountered, the Committee is recommended to encourage the State Party to further strengthen collaboration between the agencies involved by reviving the multi-stakeholder ‘Serengeti Ecosystem Forum’.
It is noted that the availability of water is also linked to tourism development given tourist lodges are one of the main water consumers. A hydrological survey of the property and related determination of its carrying capacity for water use would be an important contribution to the sustainable development of the necessary tourism and management infrastructure. Therefore the Committee is recommended to encourage the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund. This should feed into the planned revision of the management plan, which should include a strategy for future tourism development within the limits of the carrying capacity.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also received information about a project to construct an international airport at Mugumu, about 40 km away from the property, to increase the capacity of the area for tourism development. According to some media reports, construction could start this year. A letter was sent to the State Party to request more information on the project, but no reply has been received at the time of writing of this report. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the EIA for this project for review, before any decision is made.
Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7B.94
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.6, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
- Welcomes the efforts of the State Party to address the escalating threat of poaching, particularly affecting elephant and rhino populations, and calls upon the international community, and in particular destination countries, to take all necessary measures to curb the illicit trade in wildlife products in line with their commitments under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES);
- Also welcomes the information that a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is underway for the “Comprehensive Transport and Trade System Development Master Plan” and urges the State Party to ensure an open, transparent and participatory process taking into account scientific advice as well as the guidance provided in the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, especially in relation to the proposed road network in and around the property and submit a copy of the SEA to the Committee for its consideration, before a final decision on possible developments is taken;
- Notes that the State Party re-confirms that the construction of a proposed North road traversing the park has been abandoned and reiterates its call to the international community to support the development of an alternative alignment, passing to the south of the property;
- Also notes the efforts made in evaluating road-surfacing options for the heavily used main road through the property and requests the State Party to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in cooperation with Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, to assess the impacts of the different options and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review prior to a decision on stabilising this road being made;
- Also requests the States Parties of Kenya and Tanzania to further strengthen efforts towards the sustainable management of the Mara River Basin and preparation of a joint management plan for the basin and to sustain and strengthen management programmes, including collaboration with other stakeholders across the wider Serengeti Ecosystem through the “Serengeti Ecosystem Forum”;
- Encourages the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund for a hydrological survey of the property and related determination of the water use carrying capacity, feeding in to the planned revision of the management plan, which should include a strategy for future tourism development within the limits of the carrying capacity;
- Further requests the State Party to provide an electronic and three printed copies of the draft revised management plan for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
- Recognizes the progress made in negotiations over the possible future extension of the park to incorporate critical lake-shore habitats around the Speke Gulf and also encourages the State Party to conclude this process in close consultation with all stakeholders at the earliest opportunity;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to provide detailed information about reported plans for an airport development at Mugumu, including a copy of the EIA of this project for review, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and before a decision is made on the project;
- Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.