1.         Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 718)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1997-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

 

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4264

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4264  

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted in 2009, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4264

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1993-2012)
Total amount approved: USD 103,400
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted in the framework of the project “Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict” funded by Belgium: Phase I (2001-2005): about USD 250,000. Phase II (2005-2009):
USD 300,000. Phase III (2010-2013): USD 350,000. 

Previous monitoring missions

1996 and May 2006: UNESCO World Heritage Centre monitoring missions; 2009 and 2014: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 1 February 2014 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 5 to 14 March 2014. The two reports are available at the following Internet address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/documents.

The State Party informs of the reopening of all the old mining sites with a massive influx of miners, of continuing poaching, a lack of support from the provincial authorities and insufficient funds expected from some partners worried with the security situation which remains a concern since the attack on the Epulu Station on 24 June 2012. The region of the property is still considered as a “red zone” by MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), that has established an operational base 40 km to the east of the property.

In 2013, five rebel groups, of about 400 armed men, have carried out 12 other attacks in various localities and patrol posts of the property and its perimeter.

The report further indicates: the lack of sufficient staff, material and equipment, and the destruction of some facilities. However, since 2012, it was possible to reopen six of the nine patrol posts, and two of four traffic control posts along the RN4. Night traffic on the RN4 has been closed. Mixed operations with the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and the FARDC (Armed forces of the DRC) have been organized, but confiscations remain limited. Following the 2012 attack, the proportion of the property being patrolled annually has diminished from about 80% to 25%. Consequently, the status of large mammals has only been assessed on a limited part of the property.

In view of these threats, ICCN and its partners have undertaken steps to raise awareness of the politico-administrative and military authorities as well as MONUSCO, at Kisangani and Bunia. Moreover, in May 2013, they have organized a “Round Table” under the chairmanship of the Governor of the Eastern Province, attended by all the stakeholders. Its objective was to contribute towards the re-establishment of security in the Mambasa Territory and to restore the authority of the ICCN in the property. The implementation of its important recommendations has not yet been accomplished.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee express its deep concern as to the extremely difficult security situation facing the property. The mission revealed that this situation significantly hampered the conservation activities and the implementation of the corrective measures. The loss of control of roughly 75% of the Reserve results in a reduction of the quality of ecological monitoring, the pursuit of continued poaching and exploitation of numerous artisanal mining works. The presence of armed men and the migratory influx continues to have serious repercussions on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

Despite the commendable efforts of the management authorities with support from its partners to gradually regain control of the Reserve, it is difficult for ICCN alone to confront heavily armed groups. Furthermore, the lack of training and professional managerial staff can put lives at risk. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall the commitments made by the Congolese Government in the Kinshasa Declaration as regards the security of the sites but also the strengthening of the operational capacities of ICCN. It is recommended that the Committee = call upon all the parties concerned to unite their efforts to implement the recommendations resulting from the Round Table of May 2013.

The mission noted the difficulties encountered by ICCN in renewing confidence and collaboration with several politico-administrative and military authorities and some neighbouring communities. It is therefore important to implement an information and environmental education strategy in the management plan for the Reserve in order to federate the populations and local authorities around ICCN for the conservation of the property.

The mission also evaluated the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The tendencies of wildlife indicators and illegal hunting in the property between 2007 and 2011, and the evaluation of the surveillance efforts, threats and the impact on conservation between 2008 and 2013, carried out with the technical support of the Wildlife Conservation Society, demonstrate a general decline of wildlife as of 2011. A new reduction of the density of indicators for all inventoried species is noted – except for okapi and chimpanzee – in the integral conservation zone (ICZ) and in most of the management area of the property. This reduction, however, is only significant for elephant in ICZ (-43%) and in the hunting areas (-51%). The level of signs of human activity has diminished is all the areas visited of the property, but this reduction is not significant in the ICZ.

It is recommended that the Committee, moreover, request the State Party to adopt corrective measures updated by the mission with a timeframe for implementation of 3 to 5 years and decide to retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger as well as to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring mechanism.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7A.41

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.8, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Expresses its deepest concern as regards the degradation of the security situation at the property, the loss of control of approximately 75% of the Reserve, the increase in poaching and the reopening of several artisanal mining works, and considers that this situation risks destroying, if it continues, all the progress achieved over five years;
  4. Notes with concern the results of the 2010/2011 inventories that demonstrate that the degradation of the Outstanding universal value (OUV) of the property has continued and that the impacts of the security situation risk to further exacerbate the situation;
  5. Commends the efforts of the staff of the property who, at great risk, continue its efforts for the conservation of the property, and notes that the guards continue to lack the necessary material support to combat poachers;
  6. Recalls the commitments undertaken by the Congolese Government in the Kinshasa Declaration, dated January 2011, notably regarding the security of World Heritage properties, and the strengthening of the operational capacities of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), in particular the availability of equipment necessary for surveillance activities;
  7. Urges the State Party to continue its efforts to implement the corrective measures, updated by the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission of 2014, as well as preventive measures to halt and reverse the degradation of the OUV of the property:
    1. Continue the efforts to solve the problems linked to the presence of the military involved in illegal activities and obtain support of the military hierarchy to assist in respect of the laws,
    2. Close down all the artisanal mining quarries and cancel all the mining titles that encroach the property and which are granted illegally by the Mining Cadastre, especially those granted to the KiloGold Society,
    3. Undertake measures to mitigate the impacts linked to the increase in traffic within the property, and notably by mobilising the necessary technical and financial resources to contribute towards the functioning of the immigration control system, and by legalizing and increasing the scope of the pilot system to regulate and monitor immigration and traffic on the RN4, including the possibility of closing the RN4 to traffic at night and setting up a toll system,
    4. Finalize and approve the management plan for the property, with the creation of an integral conservation zone,
    5. Integrate the activities of the Committee for Visits and Passage (CSP) and the Local Committees for Monitoring and Conservation of Natural Resources (CLSCN) in the management activities of the livelihood zones (agricultural and hunting zones) for which management modalities remain to be defined in the management plan,
    6. Continue efforts to strengthen and revitalize the surveillance mechanism and render it more efficient,
    7. Prepare and implement a zoning plan of the forest areas adjacent to the property to act as protection against negative impacts of unsustainable exploitation of the forest,
    8. Strengthen communication and cooperation between all the stakeholders and the State services to increase the conservation of the natural resources of the property,
    9. Support the establishment and the active operation of the permanent consultation framework recommended by the Mambasa Round Table (11-12 May 2013) with all parties concerned to contribute in strengthening security at the property and the sustainable conservation of its natural resources;
  8. Also recalls the obligations of the Congolese Government linked to the protection of the values of the property and the other World Heritage properties on its territory, with regard to the illegal detention, transport, commerce and exportation of natural resources such as timber, minerals, plants and live wild animals or their products, like ivory;
  9. Requests the State Party to also implement the other recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission of 2014;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a detailed report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, with an update on progress accomplished in the implementation of the corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  11. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring mechanism to the property;
  12. Also decides to retain Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7A.42

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.9, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013) and reaffirming the need to implement the Kinshasa Declaration adopted in 2011,
  3. Notes that the security situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has improved since the last session but that it still remains unstable and commends the courage of the staff of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and its efforts to protect the World Heritage properties;
  4. Urges the State Party to guarantee the implementation of the commitments undertaken in the Kinshasa Declaration and to ensure the execution of the Strategic Plan of Action and requests the State Party to approve the decree to officialise the creation of an inter-ministerial committee and allocate the necessary technical and financial means to ensure adequate monitoring in the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration;
  5. Reiterates its utmost concern as regards the Hydrocarbons Code that could make possible oil exploitation activities in protected areas and also urges the State Party to ensure that the protection status of the World Heritage properties be maintained;
  6. Also requests the State Party to review the mining and oil exploration and exploitation titles to exclude the World Heritage properties and not to grant further titles within the boundaries of the properties of the DRC and recalls its position that mining and oil exploration is incompatible with World Heritage status;
  7. Congratulates the TOTAL Company for its commitment not to carry out oil or gas exploration and exploitation activities in properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, a principle to which the Shell Company has already subscribed;
  8. Takes note of the press statement of SOCO not to undertake or commission any exploratory or other drilling within Virunga National Park unless UNESCO and the DRC Government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage status, not to conduct any operations in any other World Heritage site and to ensure that any current or future operations in buffer zones adjacent to World Heritage sites do not jeopardize the Outstanding Universal Value for which these sites are listed;
  9. Warmly welcomes the support of donor countries in the conservation of the five DRC properties, and calls on the international community to continue to provide support in the implementation of the corrective measures and the Strategic Action Plan to create the necessary conditions for the rehabilitation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the five DRC properties;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a detailed report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, the situation regarding mining and oil exploration and exploitation titles that encroach World Heritage properties, and the Hydrocarbons Code, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-14/38.COM/7A and WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: