1.         Garamba National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 136)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1984-1992, 1996-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

A draft was prepared during the 2010 reactive monitoring mission (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/documents/ ) but indicators need to be quantified on the basis of the results of the aerial surveys 

Corrective measures identified

Adopted in 2010, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4082 
Revised in 2016, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6652 

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-2015)
Total amount approved: USD 323,270
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 937,000 from the United Nations Foundation, the Governments of Italy, Belgium and Spain and the Rapid Response Facility

Previous monitoring missions

2006, 2010 and 2016: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 5 February 2016, 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 29 February to 8 March 2016. The two reports are available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/documents.

The State Party reports the following:

The State Party also reports that recognition of individual giraffes has enabled giraffe population estimation of at least 40 individuals and notes that aerial surveillance of 19 radio-collared elephants has enabled estimation of the total population at around 1,500 animals. The populations of most of the property’s other prominent mammals are reportedly increasing. There was a significant reduction in the number of elephant carcasses in 2015 and no giraffe was killed.

The State Party also notes a number of issues which continue to impact on the property, including insecurity and political instability in neighbouring South Sudan, presence of armed Mbororo cattle-keepers, loss of nine park rangers killed in action, the continuing strength of international ivory markets, and uncontrolled immigration of people into the Hunting Areas.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The continuing insecurity in the region and the heavy poaching pressure have continued to degrade the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and pose a significant risk to the park’s security personnel. In addition to the nine casualties reported by the State Party, on 24 April 2016, the Chief Executive Officer of African Parks issued a statement regarding a shootout with elephant poachers which killed three rangers and severely injured one ranger and the park manager. The unrelenting efforts of the Congolese Nature Conservation Institute (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature - ICCN) and its partners (especially African Parks) in securing the park and countering the poaching pressure deserve to be commended, and it is recommended that the Committee express its most sincere condolences to the families of the guards and soldiers who lost their lives.

The northern white rhino must now be considered extinct in the wild, while the population of elephants has been reduced by well over 90% (from 22,000 in 1976, to 11,000 in 1995, and to about 1,500 animals today). The country’s only population of giraffe now stands at a critically low number of around 40 individuals. Poaching pressure is exacerbated by insecurity and political instability in South Sudan and by the presence of armed Mbororo cattle-keepers, while the use of a helicopter for the mass killing of elephants has continued with a fourth incident in August 2015, which was responsible for the death of 8 elephants. The OUV of the property is severely degraded and could be lost if urgent action to reverse the downward population trend of key species is not taken.

Fortunately, the recently reduced threat from LRA insurgents has enabled a major change in law enforcement strategy since May 2014, with protection efforts now extended to the entire property, as well as significant parts of the adjoining Hunting Areas. It is recommended that the Committee commend these efforts and the early signs of success resulting from greatly increased levels of aerial surveillance, the strengthening and re-equipping of the ranger force, collaboration with the FARDC, development of necessary park infrastructure and a strategic emphasis on ranger mobility, rapid deployment capability and use of intelligence information.

While there has been progress in the implementation of the corrective measures, the mission considered that further progress is required to halt and reverse the degradation of OUV, in particular to monitor and protect the few remaining giraffe, further develop necessary park infrastructure, and more sustainable financing of park operations. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to implement the new and revised corrective measures as set out in the mission report.

The World Heritage Centre has started separate consultations respectively with the State Parties of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan, as well as Central African Republic, in view of convening a meeting on the security in the region.

The mission, in consultation with park’s managers, revised the indicators initially envisaged in the draft of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) proposed by the 2010 mission (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/documents).  Progress in achieving these should be monitored through the resumption of regular aerial wildlife censuses. While the mission considered that these indicators could be achieved within five years if the current management efforts are maintained and further increased, it should be noted that it will likely take several decades for the property’s wildlife populations to achieve pre-war (1995) levels. Therefore, it will be crucial to further improve the security situation in the region to ensure that the recovery of OUV, once on its way, can be sustained. It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its invitation to the Director-General of UNESCO to organize, in cooperation with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), a high-level meeting between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan, as well as Central African Republic and other potential stakeholders on how to improve security in the region and address the poaching issue. 

In the meantime, it is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger and continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring mechanism.

 

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

On 5 February 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of implementation of the General Decision that is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/280/documents/ and provides the following updates:

The establishment of a Corps to strengthen security in the National Parks (CorPPN), which reaffirms the government's commitment to implement the Kinshasa Declaration, should be welcomed.

The State Party's efforts to secure the sites are commendable, however insecurity in and around the properties remains a persistent problem. The ICCN staff sustained heavy casualties and many wounded in the last twelve months: since April 2015, nine ICCN guards and three FARDC soldiers were killed in the line of duty in Garamba National Park. In March 2016, a guard was killed in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, two guards killed in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and two more in the Virunga National Park. It is recommended that the Committee expresses its condolences to the families of guards and soldiers killed in protection operations for the property.

It is regrettable that although the Hydrocarbons Code was adopted in August 2015, Article 155 of the new Code (formerly Article 160), which provides for the possibility of declassifying protected areas including World Heritage properties in order to conduct oil exploration activities, has been maintained despite the requests of the World Heritage Committee. In addition, the State Party indicates that it may also solicit an advisory mission to study the possibility of amending the boundaries of Virunga National Park. It is recommended that the Committee expresses its deep concern about Article 155 of the new Hydrocarbons Code and reiterates its request to the State Party to cancel the oil exploration concessions in the properties of the National Parks of Virunga and Salonga. It is also recommended that the Committee reiterates its position that oil exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status. It is regrettable that despite several inter-ministerial meetings, no progress was noted on the issue of mining concessions overlapping protected areas. It is recommended that the Committee requests the State Party to take the necessary measures for the cancellation of all licenses granted for mining activities that encroach on the territories of the properties in accordance with the law in force.

The efforts made towards the census of large mammals are welcomed, however, the preliminary analysis of the first sectors in Kahuzi-Biega National Park (KBNP) indicate  that the populations of Grauer gorillas and chimpanzees might be considered critically endangered according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Mining is one of the major threats to their habitats (see the report on the KBNP in Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A).

In several properties inventories have shown that the biological indicators of populations of iconic species such as the northern white rhino, Kordofan giraffe, gorilla, chimpanzee and elephant, have decreased considerably. Decisive action is needed to reverse these trends.  Notably, the pressure on populations of elephants and giraffes in Garamba National Park remains very strong. It is recommended that the Committee recalls the importance of intensifying anti-poaching efforts and expresses its deep concern about the biological trends in the decline of some key species.

The UN Security Council, during  renewal of the MONUSCO Mandate (Mission of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) in March 2016, included a paragraph in the preamble to its Resolution 2277 (2016): "Expressing concern at the illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources by armed groups, and the negative impact of armed conflict on protected natural areas, which undermines lasting peace and development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and encouraging the Government of the DRC to continue efforts to safeguard those areas”.  In addition, the Security Council authorizes MONUSCO "to encourage the consolidation of an effective national civilian structure that controls key mining activities and manages in an equitable manner the extraction, transport and trade of natural resources in eastern DRC”.

The efforts made to mobilize funding for the properties of the DRC are considerable, in particular for the Virunga, Salonga and Garamba National Parks which will receive funding under the 11th European Development Fund, with a budget of 120 million Euros for the DRC. Other important financial support from Germany and the World Bank is also available to implement corrective actions and community conservation programmes.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7A.37

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7A.8, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Commends the efforts of the staff of the property who continue their actions for the conservation of the property, often at great risk, and expresses its most sincere condolences to the families of the guards and soldiers killed in operations for the protection of the property;
  4. Expresses its deepest concern over continuing insecurity around the property and ongoing poaching pressure, particularly targeted at elephants and driven by international ivory trafficking;
  5. Reiterates its great concern that the northern white rhino is now considered to be extinct in the property and in the wild, that populations of elephants and other key species have continued to decline and Congolese giraffe are now reaching critically low numbers, and as a result the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property could be lost if urgent action to reverse the downward population trends is not taken;
  6. Also commends the State Party, particularly the Congolese Nature Conservation Institute (ICCN) and its partner, African Parks Network for their continuous efforts to further strengthen law enforcement operations by extending aerial and ground surveillance to cover the entire property as well as adjacent Hunting Areas that serve as important buffer zones for the property;
  7. Requests the State Party to continue its efforts to implement the corrective measures, updated by the 2016 mission, as follows:
    1. Further strengthen anti-poaching efforts through continued close collaboration with the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and development of highly skilled, motivated and properly equipped field personnel,
    2. Further enhance trans-boundary cooperation with South Sudan, particularly in relation to the management of adjacent Lantoto National Park, and efforts to curb poaching and illegal cross-border trade in wildlife products,
    3. Complete the establishment and deployment of a team of at least 200 operational guards incorporating carefully selected elements from FARDC,
    4. Maintain an effective year-round surveillance of the entire park and at least 50% of the surrounding Hunting Areas, increasing the extent and frequency of ground patrols whilst maintaining the existing levels of aerial surveillance,
    5. Establish a conservation strategy for the Hunting Areas and develop a recognized Buffer Zone for the World Heritage property which serves to strengthen the protection of the property’s OUV,
    6. Support and strengthen economic development activities for communities around the property to promote sustainable livelihoods, reduce dependence on park resources and ensure that neighbouring communities understand and support conservation efforts,
    7. Maintain close surveillance of the few remaining Congo giraffe and establish appropriate measures to ensure their protection,
    8. Further develop the park’s infrastructure, extending the road network, and installing additional radio repeater stations, observation posts and other installations to facilitate efficient and effective protection and management of the entire property, especially the northern sectors,
    9. Work towards sustainable financing of park management, identifying and developing a range of income sources, including trust funds, business and tourism opportunities;
  8. Takes notes of the revision proposed by the 2016 mission of the indicators of the draft Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, the final version of the DSOCR for adoption by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017;
  9. Also takes note of the ongoing consultation carried out by UNESCO in view of convening a meeting on the security in the region, and reiterates its invitation to the Director-General of UNESCO to organize, in cooperation with United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), a high-level meeting between the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan, as well as Central African Republic and other potential stakeholders on how to improve security in the region and address the poaching issue;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report 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;
  11. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism to the property;
  12. Also decides to retain Garamba National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7A.42

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/16/40.COM/7A and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7A.9, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015) and reiterating the need to implement the Kinshasa Declaration adopted in 2011,
  3. Addresses its most sincere condolences to the families of the guards and soldiers killed during operations to protect the properties, and expresses its deep concern about the persistent in secure situation in most of the properties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC);
  4. Warmly welcomes the creation of the Corps established to strengthen security in the DRC National Parks (CorPPN) which demonstrates the commitment of the State Party to implement the Kinshasa Declaration, and requests the State Party to rapidly provide it with the human and financial resources to enable the deployment of troops in the sites;
  5. Commends the State Party for its efforts to secure sustainable funding, and warmly thanks the donors for their substantial support to the properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  6. Notes with satisfaction United Nations Security Council Resolution 2277 of 30 March 2016 adopted during the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), which commits the DRC Government to continue its actions to preserve the protected natural areas and which allows MONUSCO to encourage the consolidation of an effective national civil structure that controls the main mining activities and manages in an equitable manner the extraction, transportation and trade of natural resources in the eastern DRC;
  7. Reiterates its utmost concern about the new Hydrocarbons Code which provides the possibility to declassify protected areas, including World Heritage properties, to conduct oil exploration and exploitation activities, and about the intention of the State Party to officially address the World Heritage Centre to request an Advisory Body mission to discuss the oil issue in the property;
  8. Reiterates with insistence its request to the State Party to ensure the maintenance of the protection status of World Heritage properties and to cancel any such concessions for oil exploration and mining exploration or exploitation encroaching on one of the five properties, and reiterates its position that oil and gas exploration or exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status, which is supported by the commitments made by industry leaders such as Shell and Total not to undertake such activities within World Heritage properties ;
  9. Recalls that the modifications to the boundaries of World Heritage properties that are related to the extractive industries must follow the procedure for significant modifications of the boundaries in accordance with paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines, taking into account the potential impact of such projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  10. Regrets that, despite several inter-ministerial meetings, no progress has been noted on the issue of mining concessions overlapping protected areas and urges the State Party to take the necessary steps to cancel all licenses granted for mining activities which encroach on the properties, in accordance with the law in force;
  11. Commends the progress made by the State Party to conduct complete inventories at several sites, also notes with significant concern the results of ecological inventories, notably of Kahuzi-Biega and Garamba National Parks, which show significant decline of flagship species of these properties, and also urges the State Party to continue these efforts to protect the properties, to implement corrective measures and combat heavy poaching of iconic species, which remains the major threat to the OUV of the properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  12. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, a detailed report on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, on the security situation in the properties, on the status of the mining exploration and exploitation concessions encroaching on the World Heritage properties, and on the Hydrocarbons Code, for examination by the Committee at its 41st session in 2017.

Decision Adopted: 40 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/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: