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 2017

On 13 February 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/136/documents/. Progress in implementing the Committee’s requests is provided as follows:

 The State Party also notes the following planned activities:


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

On 13 February 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the progress made in the implementation of Decision 40 COM 7A.42. This report is available at the following address https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/41com/documents/#state_of_conservation_reports and contains the information below:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Insecurity and armed conflict in the region continue to threaten the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, but there have been commendable efforts by the State Party to control the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and prevent the involvement of FARDC personnel in poaching during the reporting period. The growing pressure from the international ivory trade, involving armed groups from outside the country is a continuing serious concern and calls for further efforts to strengthen its surveillance, monitoring and control. The on-going patrol efforts to cover the whole property are welcomed, but it is noted that only 20% of the surrounding hunting areas have been covered so far. Noting the Committee’s request (Decision 40 COM 7A.37) to maintain surveillance of at least 50% of the hunting areas, further efforts are still needed to protect the OUV of the property.

Although the April 2017 elephant census will provide a more accurate estimate, the current estimate of 1,200 elephants, signifying a further decrease since 2015 (1,500), is of utmost concern. The reported loss of three giraffes to poaching also exacerbates the situation for this species of which only around 40 individuals remain in the country, which are restricted to the property. The State Party’s reported plan to radio-collar more elephants and to start the radio-collaring of giraffes will support the current monitoring activities and efforts towards halting and reversing the current downward trend.

The two meetings held, respectively in July and October 2016 in margin of the World Heritage Committee meetings in Istanbul and at UNESCO, between the State Party and the States Parties of Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda to discuss the security situation in the region of the property, specifically in relation to poaching, are welcomed. These discussions will lead to a high-level meeting, involving all relevant stakeholders and institutions concerned, with a view to implementing the decisions of the World Heritage Committee, as well as elaborating solutions to combat poaching at the regional level. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to continue the ongoing dialogue and to organize such a high-level meeting, also including other potential stakeholders to improve security in the region and address the poaching issue.  

Progress in developing the park’s infrastructures is appreciated. The further developments planned by the State Party are also noted. A strategic location of the observation stations is considered to facilitate efficient and effective protection and management of the property, as noted in the updated corrective measure for the property. No update was provided on one of the corrective measures, concerning the establishment of a conservation strategy for the hunting areas and developing a recognized Buffer Zone for the property. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to implement and provide an update on this action.

The final Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) was not submitted to the World Heritage Centre, as requested by the Committee (40 COM 7A.37), which is considered to be an urgent outstanding action.

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

The allocation of arms and ammunitions for the two properties, Garamba and Virunga National Parks, is an important effort on the part of the State Party; however, insecurity persists and is becoming more serious in the four properties located in the eastern part of the DRC. Technical and financial means must be made available to the ICCN to secure all the World Heritage properties and their surroundings.

The years 2016 and 2017 were dramatic for the ICCN staff and FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Eleven guards lost their lives and many others were seriously injured during attacks carried out against the National Parks of Garamba (2 victims), Virunga (5 victims) and Kahuzi Biega (3 victims). A guard was also killed at the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in May 2017. It is recommended that the Committee condemn this violence and address its condolences to the families of the guards and the soldiers killed during operations for the protection of the properties.

The delay incurred in the deployment of the CorPPN contingent is unfortunate. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to provide human and financial means to the CorPPN to render it operational and that it also requests the State Party to do its utmost to implement, in conformity with the Kinshasa Declaration (January 2011), and restore security conditions to enable the ICCN staff to carry out their mission.

With regard to the issue of petroleum exploration and exploitation projects, the State Party notes that no petroleum activity has been observed in the Virunga National Park. No information has been provided as concerns the petroleum interests at the Salonga National Park, expressed by the State Party during the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission (see point 10 of Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A). It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to officially confirm the definite cancellation of the petroleum concession overlapping the Virunga National Park and to clarify the situation as regards its petroleum interest in the Salonga National Park.

The efforts of the State Party to mobilize major funding for the DRC properties are favourably welcomed. Important progress has been achieved in organizing the Trust Fund for the Protected Areas of the DRC. Nevertheless, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to take legal measures by adopting the necessary decree to render operational the FOCON Fund; these provisions will enable the properties of the DRC to benefit from substantial financial resources.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7A.12

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.42, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and reiterating the need to implement the Kinshasa Declaration adopted in 2011,
  3. Condemns the violence perpetrated against the guards and soldiers killed during operations for the protection of the World Heritage properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), addresses its most sincere condolences to their families and expresses its very deep concern as regards the worsening security situation in the properties located in the eastern part of the DRC;
  4. Regrets the delay incurred in the establishment of the Corps responsible for security in the National Parks and Protected Areas (CorPPN) and requests the State Party to provide it, rapidly, with human and financial resources to enable the deployment of contingents to establish security within the properties;
  5. Expresses again its utmost concern as regards the intention of the State Party to officially address the World Heritage Centre to request an IUCN advisory mission to discuss the petroleum issue in the Virunga National Park;
  6. Reiterates with insistence its request to the State Party to cancel the petroleum exploration concession encroaching on the Virunga National Park and to clarify the situation concerning its petroleum interest in Salonga National Park, expressed by the State Party during the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission, and reiterates its position according to which all mineral, petroleum and gas exploration and exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status, policy supported by the commitments made by industry leaders, such as Shell and Total, not to undertake such activities within World Heritage properties;
  7. Congratulates the State Party for its efforts to mobilize sustainable funding and notes with appreciation the substantial support provided to the properties of the DRC by the donors;
  8. Also congratulates the State Party for the major progress achieved in finalizing the creation of the Trust Fund for the protected areas in the DRC, entitled « Okapi Fund for Conservation – FOCON » and also requests the State Party to take all the necessary legal provisions to render it operational without delay;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, a detailed report on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, on the security situation in the properties, on the status of the petroleum exploration and exploitation concessions that overlap the World Heritage properties, for examination by the Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7A.7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.37, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcoming the meetings held between the States Parties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda to discuss the threat of poaching on the property and insecurity in the region, encourages all four States Parties to continue the ongoing dialogue for the improvement of security in the region;
  4. Invites the Director-General of UNESCO to call on the State Party, as well as neighbouring States, in particular Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda, to ensure that military operations in the region do not impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and to organize, in cooperation with United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), a high-level meeting between the above-mentioned States Parties and other potential stakeholders on how to improve security in the region and address the poaching issue;
  5. Commends the State Party on its continued anti-poaching efforts, notes with appreciation that there were no reported case of Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) personnel involvement in poaching in the reporting period and encourages the State Party to continue to pursue all its efforts to combat poaching at the regional level;
  6. Reiterates however its deepest concern over continued insecurity around the property and on-going poaching pressure from the international ivory trade, and the fact that current estimates put the elephant population at 1,200, which represents a further decline from the 1,500 elephants estimated to remain in 2015, and reiterates its appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, including through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), with the full engagement of transit and destination countries;
  7. Notes with significant concern the loss of three giraffes as a result of poaching from a population of approximately only 40 individuals that remain in the whole of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are restricted to the property, and welcomes the planned radio-collaring of giraffes and more elephants;
  8. Noting that 20% of the property’s surrounding hunting areas are being patrolled, encourages the State Party to maintain an effective year-round surveillance of at least 50% of the hunting areas, in addition to the full coverage of the property;
  9. Requests the State Party to provide an update on progress achieved towards establishing a conservation strategy for the hunting areas and developing a Buffer Zone for the property to strengthen the protection of its OUV;
  10. Appreciates the progress made in developing the park’s infrastructures and the further planned developments to facilitate efficient protection and management of the property;
  11. Regrets that the State Party did not submit the final version of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) as requested by the Committee, and reiterates its request to the State Party to submit it to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as possible, and at the latest by 1 February 2018, for adoption by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018;
  12. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
  13. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism to the property;
  14. Also decides to retain Garamba National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 41 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/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: