Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania) (N 506)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1989
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/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 35,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
150000 USD in the framework of the World Heritage marine programme
Previous monitoring missions
2002, 2003, 2004, 2013: World Heritage Centre missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Illegal fishing;
- Mechanical shellfish harvesting;
- Oil exploitation;
- Tourism and increased accessibility due to the new Nouadhibou-Nouakchott road;
- Lack of management capacity and resources.
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014
A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission visited the property from 6-13 January 2014. A report is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents/.
The mission assessed the status of the major threats to the property:
- A solid legal framework is available restricting fishing to the local Imraguen communities using only traditional methods. An efficient surveillance system is in place. Nevertheless, fishing has become increasingly a commercial activity, leading to an increase in catch and the targeting of commercial species, in particular certain ray and shark species. In addition, there is clearly a problem of overfishing in the waters outside the property;
- In 2011, a new road was constructed through the property to the village of Mamghar, without a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The road has damaged several archaeological shell mounds. Works were stopped and an EIA was conducted “aposteriori”. The mission was informed that the alignment was changed following this EIA, although this was not evident to the mission;
- Several other important infrastructure projects include the new city of Chami close to the property’s eastern boundary, the extension of the mineral port in Nouadhibou, the development of a free trade zone and a new airport in Nouadhibou and the construction of a high voltage power line along the Nouakchott – Nouadhibou road;
- A substantial extension of the gold mine of Tasiast, located 60 km away from the property, is planned. This will increase water requirements for the mine and it is planned to source the additional water from the sea, 5 km away from the property. A draft EIA is available and was shared with the mission. In addition numerous exploration permits have been attributed around the property;
- No oil exploration concessions are overlapping with the property, but exploration is on-going in several blocks in its immediate vicinity. The drilling of several exploratory wells is foreseen this year.With the possibility of more future oil exploitation close to the property, but also given the significant shipping traffic close to the property, risk preparedness to deal with a possible oil spill is important. A plan to deal with a potential oil spill is in place and was tested out recently. In addition, with technical support of the World Heritage Centre, efforts are underway to request the status of Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA).
- A consultative and participatory “Territorial Diagnostic” aimed at examining all the new development projects and their cumulative impacts on the property has been initiated by the property’s Scientific Council.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
Since the inscription of the site, the State Party with support of its technical and financial partners has made important progress in terms of the protection and management of the property: its legal protection has been strengthened, a functional management authority and management system is in place and a trust fund is under development, which could contribute to its sustainable funding. In view of increasing challenges in the governance of the site, a system of shared governance should be put in place, involving all stakeholders. The development of the new management plan should take into account the recommendations of the monitoring mission and the funding for the property from the trust fund should be linked to the management effectiveness of the property and the conservation of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).
While acknowledging the progress made in managing fishing in the property, there is concern about the increasing catch size, in particular of threatened ray and shark species. It will be important to ensure the sustainability of the surveillance system and to maintain the restrictions on fishing foreseen in the law. A solution to limit the catch of threatened species needs to be agreed.
The new road to Mamghar, constructed using material from neolithic shell mounds, is clearly impacting on the cultural values of the property but also presents serious integrity issues. The EIA, which was prepared when the road was largely completed, is not up to international quality standards and does not assess the impacts on the OUV of the property.To mitigate the impact of the road, its use should be restricted and a system of control of access to the property should be put in place.
There is concern about the many infrastructure projects being developed around the property, which could potentially impact its OUV. No infrastructure should be authorized inside the property or in its vicinity, without having been subject to a proper EIA which clearly assesses the potential impacts on OUV, respecting the highest international standards and taking into account IUCN’s “World Heritage Advice Note: Environmental Assessment”. Before taking a decision, all EIAs should be validated by the Scientific Council of the property and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review.
Although the Tasiast mine exists since 2007, no EIA was ever submitted to the World Heritage Centre. The draft EIA for the water sourcing system linked to the extension of the mine does not assess the potential impacts on the OUV of the property and should be completed to assess these impacts and be submitted to the World Heritage Centre.
It is recommended that the Committee welcome the fact that no oil or mining exploration permits were attributed within the property. Nevertheless, concerns remain about potential impacts if any of the on-going exploration projects lead to exploitation. In particular, oil exploitation in blocks close to the property where exploratory drilling is going forward in 2014 would further increase the risk of oil spills. The emergency MARPOL plan should be updated urgently to ensure that an operational system is in place to address a potential oil spill. In addition, the request to designate the Banc d’Arguin marine region as a PSSA should be submitted to the International Maritime Organisation as soon as possible.
The mission concludes that so far, the OUV of the property has been preserved in part thanks to its isolation. However the region of the park is undergoing rapid changes characterized by numerous planned infrastructure developments, and it will be important not only to assess the individual impacts of each of these projects but also their cumulative impacts. The planned “Territorial Diagnostic” seems an important tool to achieve this.
Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7B.62
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.8 adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
- Welcomes the significant progress achieved by the State Party and its partners since the inscription of the property in terms of its protection and management, in particular the strengthening of its legal framework, the creation of a functional management authority and management system and the management of fishing inside the property which restricts fishing to the local Imraguen communities using only traditional methods and an efficient surveillance system;
- Takes note of the conclusion of the reactive monitoring mission that so far, the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been preserved in part thanks to its isolation but that the region is undergoing rapid changes characterized by numerous planned infrastructure developments;
- Notes with concern the many infrastructure projects being developed around the property, which could potentially impact on its OUV, and requests the State Party not to authorize infrastructure inside the property or in its vicinity, without having conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in conformity with IUCN’s “World Heritage Advice Note: Environmental Assessment” and to ensure that all EIAs are validated by the Scientific Council of the property and submitted to the World Heritage Centre prior to making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;
- Expresses its utmost concern about the road to Mamghar, which presents a serious threat to the integrity of the property and is impacting on its cultural values, and urges the State Party to ensure that its use is restricted to mitigate its impact and that a system of control of access to the property is put in place;
- Also requests the State Party to ensure that the draft EIA for the water sourcing system linked to the extension of the Tasiast mine is completed to assess its potential impacts on the OUV of the property, and submitted to the World Heritage Centre prior to making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Appreciates the fact that no oil or mining exploration permits were attributed within the property, but also expresses concern about potential impacts if any of the on-going exploration projects lead to exploitation, in particular, in oil blocks close to the property where exploratory drilling is going forward in 2014;
- Also welcomes the initiative to conduct a “Territorial Diagnostic” in order to assess the cumulative impacts of the different planned development projects on the property, and further requests the State Party to develop on the basis of this study a strategic vision for the development of the region which ensures the conservation of the OUV of the property;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to implement all other recommendations of the 2014 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission and take them into account in the development of the new management plan, in particular:
- Ensure the sustainability of the fishing surveillance system, maintain the restrictions on fishing foreseen in the law and develop an agreement with all stakeholders to limit the catch of threatened fish species, in particular rays and sharks,
- Create a residence permit system to ensure that fishing rights are restricted to the local population, as well as to ensure that no new villages develop in the park,
- Update urgently the emergency MARPOL plan to ensure that an operational system is in place to address a potential oil spill,
- Submit to the International Maritime Organization the request to designate Banc d’Arguin region as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area,
- Put in place a system of shared governance involving all stakeholders, including reviving the Board of the Park, its Scientific Council and the participatory management process and reinforcing its cooperation with its technical and financial partners,
- Link the funding for the property from the trust fund to the management effectiveness of the site and the conservation of its OUV;
- 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 recommendations of the mission, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.