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Simien National Park

Ethiopia
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Crop production
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Other Threats:

    Declining populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and other large mammal species

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Road construction through the property
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Crop cultivation
  • Overgrazing by livestock causing land degradation and human-wildlife conflict
  • Declining populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and other large mammal species
  • Agricultural encroachment at the borders of the property
  • Impacts and risks associated with tourism
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Major declines of the Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf populations and of other large mammals
  • Agricultural encroachment at the borders of the property
  • Impacts of road construction through the property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4085 

Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4085 

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Not yet identified
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

Total amount granted: USD 100,000 (2012-2015) in support of community conservation programme with co-financing from Global Environment Fund (GEF) and development of the grazing pressure reduction strategy (UNESCO-Spain-Funds-in Trust and UNESCO-Netherlands-Funds-in-Trust)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 10 (from 1978-2013)
Total amount approved : 323,171 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 8 February 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property in response to Committee Decision 40 COM 7A.43 (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016). From 23 to 30 April 2017 an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/documents. The State Party reports progress made towards the corrective measures as follows:

  • Preparation towards a boundary modification of the property is underway;
  • Beginning implementation of a consolidated strategic framework, including the General Management Plan (GMP), a Tourism Master Plan, a Grazing Pressure Reduction Strategy and Livelihood Improvement Strategies;
  • Relocation of the Gich community has been completed, with most individual compensations secured while a few individual court cases are still ongoing, infrastructure and the draft livelihood improvement strategy and action plan have been developed;
  • Cooperation with partners including the Austrian Development Cooperation, the African Wildlife Foundation, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and UNDP in the operational park management and livelihood improvement of resettled communities;
  • Significant increases of the populations of Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf over the past decade;
  • Delays of the construction of a new road to serve as an alternative route to an existing road crossing sensitive areas within the property. The task has been transferred to the governmental Defense Construction Company, which is expected to complete the stalled works;
  • Commitment is made to re-align the power line along the above-mentioned new road;
  • Increase in tourism activities, with reported interest to develop the sector further.

The State Party also provides a map with the locations of the existing and proposed eco-lodges, stating that they are all located “almost on the boundary line (within the buffer zone)” of Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP). 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The 2017 mission confirmed that the overarching challenge for the relatively small property arises due to the growing human population living in its immediate vicinity and to a lesser extent within it, and relying on the property’s natural resources. The State Party has made considerable progress in responding to Committee requests but further efforts are needed to reduce overgrazing, better manage tourism and infrastructures and promote alternative livelihoods. The 2009-2019 GMP provides a good framework for the management of the property, but its implementation is currently limited. Development of a new GMP provides a clear opportunity to address the above concerns and expand the geographical scope of the GMP to incorporate the newly defined boundaries.

The voluntary resettlement of the Gich community reduces the unsustainable agricultural and grazing pressure on a centrally located and particularly valuable area within the property. Great care should be taken to fulfil all the necessary commitments from the resettlement process, including payment of the remaining compensations and implementation of the livelihood strategy, in full compliance with both national laws and international policy and guidance.

While noting the difficulties in estimating populations of Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf, there appears to be an encouraging indication on increasing or at least stable populations, thereby meeting the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) ecological indicators. However, there is a need for a clearer monitoring protocol for populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada to establish a consensus on realistic population numbers and trends of these three flagship species of the property.

Tourism has the potential to create alternative employment and income opportunities but also comes with impacts and risks, which need to be understood and addressed. Despite the map submitted and State Party’s description, the locations of the current and proposed eco-lodges remain unclear, especially regarding whether the lodges are inside or outside of SMNP boundaries. The State Party refers to a buffer zone, which has not yet been defined for the property but this should be encouraged. It is also noted that no update is provided on the status of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for these proposed developments in order to assess the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property as requested by the Committee in Decision 40 COM 7A.43.

While the delay of the road construction aiming at reducing disturbance in important afro-alpine habitats is unfortunate, the renewed State Party commitment to finalize the project is encouraging. As noted by the State Party, the new road will cross a different section of the SMNP. An EIA should be developed in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment to mitigate the impacts of the new road.

The mission reports the State Party’s strong commitment and management responses at all governmental levels. Zonation and user agreements defining rights and responsibilities for local subsistence use of natural resources are among the promising instruments in making further progress to address overgrazing while supporting livelihoods, as proposed by the Grazing Pressure Reduction Strategy,. The mission recommends the DSOCR indicator on grazing be updated to assess the enabling framework rather than a quantitative indicator. It is important to note that addressing the conflicts between local livelihood needs and conservation objectives are permanent and fundamental management requirements. Despite substantial investments made to date, major additional investment is required and external governmental and non-governmental partners are strongly encouraged to closely coordinate with the State Party.

The mission considers that, despite the commendable progress, the property should remain on the List of World Heritage in Danger. As a pragmatic and coherent way forward, the mission recommends a focus on the formalization of the Significant Boundary Modification requested by the Committee. As this procedure involves the preparation of a new nomination, it represents an opportunity for the State Party to demonstrate compliance with World Heritage expectations such as Committee requests, mission recommendations, including further progress achieved towards the DSOCR. At the same time, it is recommended that the elaboration of the next GMP to encompass the expanded SMNP should start as soon as possible, fully considering the World Heritage status and its implications. It is therefore recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to take advantage of these two pending processes in an effort to refine the evolving policy and management framework along with a realistic and fundable implementation plan.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7A.13
Simien National Park (Ethiopia) (N 9)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 35 COM 7A.9, 39 COM 7A.10 and 40 COM 7A.43 adopted at its 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively;
  3. Congratulates the State Party for the efforts made in the implementation of the corrective measures and achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  4. Decides to remove Simien National Park (Ethiopia) from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  5. Notes the possible increase in Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf populations and requests the State Party to develop clear and agreed monitoring protocols for the populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada;
  6. Also notes that the voluntary relocation of the Gich community has been completed, and establishment of alternative livelihood options is underway, and also requests the State Party to ensure the application of the highest standards in concluding all the remaining commitments;
  7. Notes with appreciation the State Party’s commitment to complete the construction of the alternative road aiming at reducing disturbance of the existing main road in important afro-alpine habitats, and to re-align the power line with this new road, and further requests the State Party to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the part of the new road crossing the national park in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  8. Also notes with appreciation that multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental partners cooperate with the State Party on the conservation of the property and strongly encourages all current and future partners to fully coordinate their efforts under the leadership of the State Party;
  9. Further notes the location of the proposed eco-lodge developments inside the park and requests furthermore the State Party to submit the EIAs including a thorough assessment of the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, to the World Heritage Centre for review in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to implement the other recommendations of the 2017 mission, which build upon earlier mission recommendations, in particular to:
    1. Adopt a clear, realistic and funded plan to manage and substantially reduce overgrazing in the property to the levels that do not impact on its Outstanding Universal Value,
    2. Initiate the evaluation of the current 2009-2019 General Management Plan (GMP) to inform the next GMP,
    3. Strengthen the participation of local communities in the management and eventually the governance of the property;
  11. Reiterates its repeated request to the State Party to submit a proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification through the preparation of a new nomination as per Decisions 35 COM 7A.9 and 40 COM 43, in order to harmonize the boundaries of the property with the new boundaries of the national park;
  12. Requests in addition the State Party to initiate the development of a new GMP to encompass the expanded Simien Mountains National Park boundaries and to further refine the policy and management framework with the objectives to reduce overgrazing, better manage tourism and infrastructures and promote alternative livelihoods;
  13. Finally 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.
41 COM 8C.3
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Removed Properties)

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) and the proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC/17/41.COM/8B, WHC/17/41.COM/8B.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/8B.Add.2),
  2. Decides to remove the following properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Côte d’Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.5)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.13)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 41 COM 7A.20), which has become Gelati Monastery (Decision 41 COM 8B.31)
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.13

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 35 COM 7A.9, 39 COM 7A.10 and 40 COM 7A.43 adopted at its 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively;
  3. Welcomes further progress towards the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), including:
    1. Further refinement of the policy and management framework that has been achieved,
    2. The evidence of stable and possibly increasing populations of the flagship species Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada;
  4. Adopts the updated DSOCR indicator on grazing as recommended by the 2017 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and requests the State Party to implement the other recommendations of the 2017 mission, which build upon earlier mission recommendations, in particular to:
    1. Initiate the evaluation of the current 2009-2019 General Management Plan (GMP) to inform the next GMP,
    2. Strengthen the participation of local communities in the management and eventually the governance of the property;
  5. Reiterates its repeated request to the State Party to submit a proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification through the preparation of a new nomination as per Decisions 35 COM 7A.9 and 40 COM 43, in order to harmonize the boundaries of the property with the new boundaries of the national park, and encourages the State Party to use the process as a coherent framework to structure and coordinate the implementation of actions towards meeting the DSOCR;
  6. Also requests the State Party to initiate the development of a new GMP to encompass the expanded Simien Mountains National Park boundaries and to further refine the policy and management framework with the objectives to reduce overgrazing, better manage tourism and infrastructures and promote alternative livelihoods;
  7. Further requests the State Party to develop clear and agreed monitoring protocols for the populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada;
  8. Takes note that the voluntary relocation of the Gich community has been completed, and requests furthermore the State Party to ensure the application of the highest international standards in concluding all the remaining commitments, including in regard to compensation and establishment of alternative livelihood options;
  9. Notes with appreciation the State Party’s commitment to complete the construction of the alternative road aiming at reducing disturbance of the existing main road in important afro-alpine habitats, and to re-align the power line with this new road, and requests moreover the State Party to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the part of the new road crossing the national park in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  10. Also notes with appreciation that multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental partners cooperate with the State Party on the conservation of the property and strongly encourages all current and future partners to fully coordinate their efforts under the leadership of the State Party;
  11. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to clarify the location of the proposed eco-lodge developments inside the park, and to undertake EIAs including a thorough assessment of the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit these EIAs to the World Heritage Centre for review before any decisions are made, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  12. Finally 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 retain Simien National Park (Ethiopia) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2017
Ethiopia
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1996-2017
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2017) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
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.


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