1.         Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 280)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1984

Criteria  (vii)(ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1999-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

Proposed in the 2012 mission report. However, core indicators of the results of the inventory of flagship species still needs to be quantified in view of the adoption of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) by the Committee

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4575 

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/280/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1985-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 149,900
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/280/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 320,000 from the United Nations Foundation and the Governments of Italy and Belgium 

Previous monitoring missions

2007 and 2012: 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/280/

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/280/documents/. Progress in implementing the corrective measures is provided as follows:


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

The establishment of a new Rapid Intervention Force and a Rapid Response Team is welcomed to further strengthen the State Party’s efforts to effectively tackle poaching. It is noted that the Surveillance Strategy to prioritize activities is near finalization. Furthermore, the reported increase in patrol coverage from 50% to 60% in the reporting period is a welcome achievement.

No update is provided on the State Party’s intention to consider further options to improve connectivity between the ‘sustainable conservation zones’ proposed in the ecological corridor to link the two components of the property, as requested by the Committee. However, the biological inventory would generate valuable information in order to inform the possible options on managing this corridor, and it is therefore considered that the plan for the Multiple Use Zone should be reviewed once the inventory is completed.

The meaning of the ‘demographic explosion’ in the corridor, as reported by the State Party, remains unclear and it is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide more information, comprising of the potential causes and the impact of this demographic explosion on the OUV of the property, including its conditions of integrity. Noting that an influx of immigrants can be driven by, or result in, illegal activities such as mining and poaching, careful monitoring and management action is required without delay in particular to address the root causes that have led to this problem.

The preliminary findings of the inventory of bonobos and elephants from the survey of three blocks are noted, as is the collection of ungulate data along these transects. Comprehensive global population data on bonobos, which are endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are currently lacking but estimates have previously suggested a minimum of 15,000-20,000 individuals in total. Considering the extrapolated population estimate, the property therefore appears to be a critical habitat for bonobos.

The study to weigh out options for the Yaelima and Kitawala communities either to remain in the property or to be relocated is noted. However, as requested by the Committee (Decision 40 COM 7A.40), it is crucial to initiate an effective dialogue with the communities to identify possible solutions and to also assess the socio-economic situation of the Yaelima community to inform the strategy on how to address their residence in the property. Information on progress in achieving either of these has not been provided.

Regarding the status of oil exploration and exploitation projects, it is recommended that the Committee regret that the State Party did not provide any information on this matter, as requested since 2012, following the comments made by the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, concerning its interest in oil exploration and exploitation in the Central Basin, which encompasses the property.

Efforts are pursued by the State Party to continue the implementation of the corrective measures with the aim to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR).

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.10

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7A.7 and 40 COM 7A.40, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the establishment of a new Rapid Intervention Force and a Rapid Response Team to further strengthen the State Party’s efforts to effectively address poaching, and also welcomes the increase in surveillance coverage to 60% of the property;
  4. Takes note of the preliminary findings of the inventory of flagship species, including bonobos and elephants, and reiterates its request to the State Party to submit the full findings of the inventories for all flagship species to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as they become available, and based on the results, to also submit an updated Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), which quantifies the indicators, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  5. Requests the State Party to provide details of the reported ‘demographic explosion’ in the corridor, comprising of its potential causes, proposed measures to address them and the impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including on the ‘sustainable conservation zones’ that have been identified by the State Party to be of particular importance in the ecological corridor to link the two components of the property;
  6. Noting with appreciation the State Party’s intention to undertake a biological inventory in 2017 to assess the ecological connectivity between the two components of the property, also requests the State Party to submit the findings to the World Heritage Centre once they are available;
  7. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to consider further options to improve the connectivity between the ‘sustainable conservation zones’ and the southern component of the property, and further requests the State Party to consider the findings of the above-mentioned biological inventory in reviewing the plan for the Multiple Use Zone;
  8. Further reiterates its request to the State Party to urgently clarify its expression of interest in oil exploration and exploitation in the Central Basin, which includes the property, as communicated to the 2012 mission, 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. Requests furthermore 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;
  10. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism to the property;
  11. Also decides to retain Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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 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: