Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Mining
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Extensive poaching of large mammals, in particular elephants
  • Mining activities inside the property
  • Uncontrolled migration into the villages located within the property
  • Illegal timber exploitation in the Ituri Forest, which might affect the property in the near future
  • Planned rehabilitation of the National Road RN4 crossing the property, for which no proper Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted

 

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Impact of the conflict : looting of the infrastructures, poaching of elephants;
  • Presence of gold mining sites inside the property.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2015

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. United Nations Peacebuilding Fund: USD 550,000

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 4 (from 1993-2012)
Total amount approved : 103,400 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 17 February 2015 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at the following address: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/718/documents/ (pages 50 to 56). The report notes a general improvement in the security situation related to the arrest of many local rebel groups, which has enabled the personnel to greatly increase its patrol efforts. Thus the surveillance coverage rate rose to 48% in 2014 against 25% in 2013.

In its report, the State Party informs of progress in the implementation of the corrective measures, in particular:

  • Arrest of a dozen soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) involved in poaching, including of okapi, and other illegal activities;
  • Awareness raising and lobbying of the Governor of the Province to ensure security of the property and its surroundings. Placing a new military contingent at Epulu, within the property, to strengthen and increase mixed ICCN-FARDC operations;
  • Following a statement from the Governor of the Province, dated September 2014, ordering the closure of artisanal mining quarries, the evacuation process began in November 2014 and is ongoing with the support of the FARDC. Thus seven quarries (gold and diamonds) have already been closed in the four central sectors of the property;
  • Steps to cancel the mining permits attributed to the Kilogold Society and encroaching on the property are underway, and in the meantime the exploitation of the parcels has been suspended;
  • Three workshops were held with participants from the Reserve, the administrative authorities and local communities, to strengthen communication and involve them in the conservation of the property. They aimed to share information about the Reserve's activities held in the course of the year: road rehabilitation, zoning plan for the property and evacuation of the mining quarries;
  • The Management Plan, which is still not validated, is out of date and needs updating.

The State Party notes that the lack of financial resources remains a major constraint for the implementation of corrective measures.

Following the Reactive Monitoring mission of 2014, the UNESCO Office in Kinshasa mobilized support of USD 550,000 for the property. This support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund aims to strengthen community dialogue and reconcile the Park with local populations.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

The security situation has greatly improved thanks to the joint ICCN-FARDC operations. Significant efforts have been made by the management authority to extend surveillance to 48% of the property. It should be noted that prior to the attacks of the Simba in 2011, the surveillance coverage had reached almost 60%. The measures taken against the soldiers involved in poaching are also very encouraging. Security in the region is the primary condition for the ICCN to face the challenges related to the conservation of natural resources of the property, and thereby initiate the rehabilitation of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Expanding the coverage of surveillance and regaining control of the site is currently the main priority in order to halt poaching which has become uncontrollable, and the erosion of the OUV of the property.

It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee welcomes the actions taken by ICCN to close mining quarries within the property, evacuate the illegal occupants and to cancel the mining titles encroaching on the property. These actions were made possible through the support of the Governor of the Province, thus demonstrating the renewal of dialogue between the management authority and the political and administrative authorities.

It is also recommended that the World Heritage Committee commend ICCN for its efforts to implement the corrective measures adopted in 2014 at its 38th session. It should be stressed that the lack of resources, financial and technical, remain a major obstacle to conducting other preventive measures to limit the deterioration of the OUV. Patrol efforts focus on critical areas of the property because only two patrol stations are operational. In addition, the immigration and traffic control activities are limited or suspended due to lack of funding. It is recommended that the Committee requests the State Party to make the necessary resources available to the property to ensure effective management, and to appeal to donors to increase their support and recommence the activities that had been suspended following the 2012 attacks.

Finally, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee maintains the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and that it continues to apply the reinforced monitoring mechanism.

General Decision on the properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Current conservation issues

On 17 February 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the implementation of Decision 38 COM 7A.42, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/documents/ (pages 7– 9). The report notes the following progress in the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration:

  • In August 2014, the National Superior Defence Council, chaired by the President of the Republic, announced that instructions were given to reinforce security in the protected areas of the country and to strengthen the capacity of the park guards with assistance from the army;
  • In November 2014, the Vice Prime Minister reiterated the commitment of the Government to implement the Declaration;
  • A special anti-poaching brigade is being created in order to assist in protecting national parks. The Presidential Decree underway will formalize its creation;
  • The cooperation with the army has been greatly improved;
  • Efforts are underway to ensure that the mining cadastre includes updated information on the location of protected areas in order to ensure that there is no overlap between concessions and protected areas;
  • The Interministerial Committee has not yet been officially established, but several interministerial meetings were held to discuss issues related to protected areas. At provincial level, these issues are dealt with by the Provincial Consultative Councils on Forests;
  • The Strategic Plan of Action, which was adopted at the high level meeting of 2011, will be updated in 2015.

The report further notes that the new Hydrocarbons Code was adopted by both the Parliament and the Senate, but will still be discussed in the mixed Committee of the two Chambers, allowing for further discussion on Article 160, which foresees the possibility of degazetment of protected areas to allow for oil exploitation.

In relation to the oil exploration in Virunga, it is noted that the Government is planning to submit to the World Heritage Centre a proposal with “options for exception mechanisms for further negotiation”. This seems to be in line with the reply by the Prime Minister to the letter of 8 January by the Delegation Heads of the European Union, World Bank, UNESCO and United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Ambassadors of Germany and Canada, where he pointed out that in the event the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would want to go forward with oil exploitation, it would seek a minor boundary modification (see also report on Virunga National Park, item 4 of Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A).

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The statement by the Vice Prime Minister of DRC reiterating the commitment of the Government to implement the Kinshasa Declaration should be welcomed. In particular, it is encouraging that concrete measures have been taken to implement one of the most important elements of the Declaration, namely to create the conditions for implementation of the corrective measures by securing the sites.

The intention to create a special anti-poaching brigade is also noted. Widespread poaching is without doubt the single most important threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of all five properties. Results of the different inventories clearly show that since the start of the conflict, the biodiversity values of the properties have been seriously affected and their populations of emblematic species, such as Northern White Rhino, Okapi, Grauer’s Gorilla, Bonobo and Elephant, were severely reduced. Decisive action is needed to turn the tide. Recently, the increasing demand for ivory has in particular further increased pressure on the remaining Elephant populations. It is estimated that the DRC Elephant population, most of which is living in the World Heritage properties, has dwindled by over 90%, from more than 100 000 at the start of the 1980s to less than 10 000 today. Securing the sites and strengthening anti-poaching efforts are important, but additional efforts will be needed in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to identify and take legal action against the criminal networks involved in the illegal traffic. Efforts to reduce demand in consumer countries are also needed.

The reported efforts to ensure that the mining cadastre uses accurate mapping information of the properties to avoid the attribution of mining concessions overlapping with the properties also responds to a long standing demand of the Committee. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its requests to the State Party to annul all existing permits, which overlap with any of the properties.

It is also recommended that the Committee express its utmost concern about Article 160 of the new Code for Hydrocarbons, which foresees the possibility of degazetting protected areas, including World Heritage properties, as well as the statement made by the Prime Minister of DRC that the State Party might seek a boundary modification of Virunga National Park to allow for oil exploration activities to proceed. These are in clear contradiction to the Kinshasa Declaration, which committed to uphold the protection status of the properties. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its position on this issue, as expressed in previous decisions.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7A.8
Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 718)
The World Heritage Committee,
  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.41 adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the significant efforts of the State Party to ensure security of the property and expand surveillance coverage, and the measures taken to punish the soldiers involved in poaching, but notes that major parts of the property remain outside the control of the managing authority;
  4. Also notes that restoring security is the precondition for the implementation of corrective measures and restoring the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  5. Urges the State Party to prioritize efforts to further expand the monitoring coverage and regain control of the site to halt poaching and the erosion of the OUV of the property;
  6. Welcomes the steps taken by the Managing Authority with the support of the Governor of the Province to close the mining quarries within the property and to evacuate the illegal occupants, and the steps taken to cancel mining permits encroaching the property, and requests the State Party to close all quarries and cancel all permits rapidly;
  7. Further notes the difficulties reported by property managers to implement corrective actions, due to lack of technical and financial resources, as adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session, to rehabilitate the OUV of the property, and also requests the State Party to make available to the property the necessary means to ensure their implementation;
  8. Calls upon donors to provide necessary financial and technical support to the site's managers to implement corrective actions and to resume operations suspended due to lack of security;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 40th session in 2016;
  10. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  11. Also decides to retain the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
39 COM 7A.9
General Decision on the properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
The World Heritage Committee,
  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.42, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014) and reaffirming the need to implement the Kinshasa Declaration adopted in 2011,
  3. Welcomes the statement by the Vice Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reiterating the commitment of the State Party to implement the Kinshasa Declaration, as well as the decision by the National Superior Defence Council to instruct the army to strengthen security in the properties;
  4. Notes with appreciation the efforts to ensure that the mining cadastre uses accurate mapping information of the properties to avoid that mining concessions attributed overlap with the properties, and reiterates its requests to the State Party to cancel all existing permits, which overlap with any of the five properties;
  5. Considers that widespread poaching is the single most significant threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of all five properties, also welcomes the intention to create a special anti-poaching brigade, but notes that additional efforts will be needed, in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to identify and take legal action against the criminal networks involved in the illegal traffic of species of fauna and their products, in particular ivory;
  6. Calls upon the States Parties which are transit and destination countries for ivory and rhino horn, to support the State Party to halt the illegal trade in ivory and other illegal wildlife products, in particular through the implementation of the CITES;
  7. Reiterates its utmost concern about the Hydrocarbons Code that would make oil exploitation activities in protected areas possible, and about the statement by the Prime Minster of DRC that the State Party might seek a boundary modification of Virunga National Park to allow for oil exploration activities to proceed;
  8. Also reiterates its requests to the State Party to ensure that the protection status of the World Heritage properties be maintained and to annul all oil exploration concessions overlapping with any of the five properties, and reiterates its position that mining, oil and gas exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status;
  9. Urges the State Party to continue its efforts to implement the commitments made in the Kinshasa Declaration and to ensure the execution of the Strategic Plan of Action, and further reiterates its request to the State Party to approve the decree to formalize 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;
  10. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, a detailed report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, the situation regarding mining, oil and gas exploration and exploitation titles that overlap with World Heritage properties, and the Hydrocarbons Code, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.
39 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of the World Heritage in Danger

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-15/39.COM/7A and WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 39 COM 7A.38)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 39 COM 7A.39)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 39 COM 7A.18)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosi (Decision 39 COM 7A.44)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.1)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 39 COM 7A.45)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.3)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.4)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.5)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.8)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 39 COM 7A.24)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.10)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 39 COM 7A.40)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 39 COM 7A.41)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.20)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 39 COM 7A.15)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 39 COM 7A.25)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 39 COM 7A.26)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 39 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 39 COM 7A.11)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 39 COM 7A.21)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 39 COM 7A.22)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 39 COM 7A.12)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 39 COM 7A.28)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 39 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 39 COM 7A.46)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 39 COM 7A.47)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.13)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 39 COM 7A.42)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 39 COM 7A.16)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 39 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 39 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 39 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 39 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 39 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 39 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 39 COM 7A.23)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 39 COM 7A.43)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.14)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.17)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 39 COM 7A.48)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 39 COM 7A.37)
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.8

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.41 adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the significant efforts of the State Party to ensure security of the property and expand surveillance coverage, and the measures taken to punish the soldiers involved in poaching, but notes that major parts of the property remain outside the control of the managing authority;
  4. Also notes that restoring security is the precondition for the implementation of corrective measures and restoring the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  5. Urges the State Party to prioritize efforts to further expand the monitoring coverage and regain control of the site to halt poaching and the erosion of the OUV of the property;
  6. Welcomes the steps taken by the Managing Authority with the support of the Governor of the Province to close the mining quarries within the property and to evacuate the illegal occupants, and the steps taken to cancel mining permits encroaching the property, and requests the State Party to close all quarries and cancel all permits rapidly;
  7. Further notes the difficulties reported by property managers to implement corrective actions, due to lack of technical and financial resources, as adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session, to rehabilitate the OUV of the property, and also requests the State Party to make available to the property the necessary means to ensure their implementation;
  8. Calls upon donors to provide necessary financial and technical support to the site's managers to implement corrective actions and to resume operations suspended due to lack of security;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 40th session in 2016;
  10. Decides to continue to apply the reinforced monitoring mechanism for the property;
  11. Also decides to retain the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

 

Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.9

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision38 COM 7A.42, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014) and reaffirming the need to implement the Kinshasa Declaration adopted in 2011,
  3. Welcomesthe statement by the Vice Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reiterating the commitment of the State Party to implement the Kinshasa Declaration, as well as the decision by the National Superior Defence Council to instruct the army to strengthen security in the properties;
  4. Notes with appreciation the efforts to ensure that the mining cadastre uses accurate mapping information of the properties to avoid that mining concessions attributed overlap with the properties, and reiterates its requests to the State Party to cancel all existing permits, which overlap with any of the five properties;
  5. Considers that widespread poaching is the single most significant threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of all five properties, also welcomes the intention to create a special anti-poaching brigade, but notes that additional efforts will be needed, in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to identify and take legal action against the criminal networks involved in the illegal traffic of species of fauna and their products, in particular ivory;
  6. Calls upon the States Parties which are transit and destination countries for ivory and rhino horn, to support the State Party to halt the illegal trade in ivory and other illegal wildlife products, in particular through the implementation of the CITES;
  7. Reiterates its utmost concernabout the Hydrocarbons Code that would make oil exploitation activities in protected areas possible, and about the statement by the Prime Minster of DRC that the State Party might seek a boundary modification of Virunga National Park to allow for oil exploration activities to proceed;
  8. Also reiterates its requests to the State Party to ensure that the protection status of the World Heritage properties be maintained and to annul all oil exploration concessions overlapping with any of the five properties, and reiteratesits position that mining, oil and gas exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status;
  9. Urgesthe State Party to continue its efforts to implement the commitments made in the Kinshasa Declaration and to ensure the execution of the Strategic Plan of Action, and further reiterates its request to the State Party to approve the decree to formalize 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;
  10. Requeststhe State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, a detailed report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, the situation regarding mining, oil and gas exploration and exploitation titles that overlap with World Heritage properties, and the Hydrocarbons Code, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.
Report year: 2015
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date of Inscription: 1996
Category: Natural
Criteria: (x)
Danger List (dates): 1997-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 39COM (2015)
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.


top