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Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

Zambia, Zimbabwe
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Air pollution
  • Drought
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water (extraction)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Project to construct a dam across the gorge (issue resolved); 
  • Unplanned tourism development;
  • Uncontrolled urban development driven by population increase;
  • Invasive species;
  • Pollution (water, air and visual);
  • Reduced water flows over the falls due to drought and/or upstream hydropower production. 
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 5 (from 2001-2007)
Total amount approved : 93,485 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

November 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN reactive monitoring mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 31 January 2014, the States Parties submitted a joint report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/509/documents. The report addresses the specific issues raised in Decision 36 COM 7B.7 and provides a general update on the implementation of the 2006 reactive monitoring mission recommendations, including:

  • Joint activities between the States Parties in site management. A revised joint management plan is expected to be completed in June 2014;
  • Implementation of a voluntary agreement by the State Party of Zambia to limit the dry-season diversion of water from the falls for hydro-electric power generation, so as to maintain the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
  • Status of various private sector development activities in and around the Zambian side of the property, notably the proposed tethered balloon (still under review) and proposals for an ‘amphicoach’ and Spa lodge (both abandoned);
  • Progress towards development of a sustainable finance/business plan for the property (in preparation), a Strategic Environmental Assessment (scheduled to be completed in 2014), and a monitoring plan (completed and being implemented as of 2014);
  • Progress with the mechanical clearing of areas infested with the invasive weed, Lantana camara.

The States Parties also report on a range of site management activities including wildlife restocking, habitat restoration through tree planting, fire management, waste disposal and development of management infrastructure. Tourist numbers to the property continue to increase, reaching 252,800 in 2013 (up 9% from 2010). The States Parties further inform that effective regulation and control of tourism remains the single greatest challenge for management, while securing the necessary funding is also a serious challenge.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

There has been commendable progress in recent years with a range of site management activities including improvements to park infrastructure, signage and waste management, regulation of private sector tourism activities, control of invasive exotic vegetation, fire management and ecological restoration. The efforts to restore and maintain the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property should be commended, in particular the State Party of Zambia’s voluntary reduction in the amounts of water diverted from the falls for hydro-electric power generation during the critical dry-season months.  The State Party of Zambia’s decision to deny authorization of two tourism development projects which would have adversely affected the property’s OUV is also welcomed, but it remains important that both States Parties continue to coordinate closely in the review and regulation of all such proposals.  Particular care needs to be taken to avoid any visual impact of developments that might be visible from within the property, such as the proposed tethered balloon. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have also received information about an independent proposal for a public private partnership to construct a cable car in the Zimbabwe portion of the property. However, following communication with the World Heritage Centre, the project proponent noted that they had decided to abandon this project.

There is some concern that upstream abstraction of water may adversely affect the property’s OUV. The newly-established Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) is an important tool for the protection and utilization of this shared watercourse. The State Party of Botswana has notified ZAMCOM of its intention to abstract 495 million cubic metres of water per annum (mostly for agricultural irrigation at Pandamatenga) which amount would represent 5-10% of the dry season flow at the falls, thus potentially having a negative impact on the property’s OUV. Upstream water abstraction is one the strategic issues that should be fully evaluated in the context of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and addressed by the Joint Ministerial Committee. Other important issues that should be included in the SEA process would be options to reduce the impact of nearby urban development on the property, and regulation of tourism infrastructure and activities (especially noise and visual impacts).

The funding constraints are limiting the ability of the management authorities to fully implement site management programmes; therefore, the Committee is recommended to encourage the States Parties to expedite the development of a sustainable financing/business plan for the property.  In view of the substantial number of visitors, it would seem feasible to finance management operations largely from park entry fees and other site-based revenue.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7B.96
Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls (Zambia, Zimbabwe) (N 509)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.7, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),
  3. Welcomes the completion of the monitoring plan, and requests the States Parties to report on the monitoring results as soon as these are available;
  4. Also welcomes the voluntary measures taken by the State Party of Zambia to limit the dry-season diversion of water from the falls for hydro-electric power generation, thereby restoring part of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and encourages the State Party of Zambia to consider further reductions in water abstraction;
  5. Notes with concern the notified intention of the State Party of Botswana to abstract 495 million cubic metres of water per annum from the Zambezi River for irrigation, which represents 5-10 % of dry season water flow at the falls, and strongly urges the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe, in consultation with the State Party of Botswana and the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), to include a full evaluation of this project and its impacts on the OUV of the property in the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that is currently in preparation;
  6. Recognises the measures taken by the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to protect the OUV of the property by denying authorisation of inappropriate tourism development activities, and urges them to not permit any further proposals for a tethered balloon, cableway or other tall structure in the vicinity of the property, if they would have a negative visual impact on the property;
  7. Further urges the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to expedite the completion of the sustainable financing/business plan, and to consider mechanisms for financing management operations largely from park entry fees and other site-based revenue;
  8. Further requests the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to provide, to the World Heritage Centre, an electronic and three printed copies of the draft revised joint management plan as well as the SEA for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  9. Requests furthermore the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, 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 41st session in 2017.
Draft Decision:            38 COM 7B.96

The World Heritage Committee,

1.         Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B,

2.         Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.7, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.         Welcomes the completion of the monitoring plan, and requests the States Parties to report on the monitoring results as soon as these are available;

4.         Also welcomes the voluntary measures taken by the State Party of Zambia to limit the dry-season diversion of water from the falls for hydro-electric power generation, thereby restoring part of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and encourages the State Party of Zambia to consider further reductions in water abstraction;

5.         Notes with concern the notified intention of the State Party of Botswana to abstract 495 million cubic metres of water per annum from the Zambezi River for irrigation, which represents 5-10 % of dry season water flow at the falls, and strongly urges the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe, in consultation with the State Party of Botswana and the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM), to include a full evaluation of this project and its impacts on the OUV of the property in the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that is currently in preparation; 

6.         Recognises the measures taken by the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to protect the OUV of the property by denying authorisation of inappropriate tourism development activities, and urges them to not permit any further proposals for a tethered balloon, cableway or other tall structure in the vicinity of the property, if they would have a negative visual impact on the property;

7.         Further urges the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to expedite the completion of the sustainable financing/business plan, and to consider mechanisms for financing management operations largely from park entry fees and other site-based revenue;

8.         Further requests the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to provide, to the World Heritage Centre, an electronic and three printed copies of the draft revised joint management plan as well as the SEA for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;

9.         Requests furthermore the States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017. 

Report year: 2014
Zambia Zimbabwe
Date of Inscription: 1989
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2014) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
Exports

* : 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”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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