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Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda

Gabon
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Human resources
  • Illegal activities
  • Major linear utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of management structure to deal with the cultural values of the property
  • Need for training of conservation managers
  • Road Development
  • Project of optical fibre
  • Poaching
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

Total amount granted: 300 000€ from the European Union, through the Central African World Heritage Forests Initiative (CAWHFI) project, from 2016 to 2018

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 3 (from 2002-2016)
Total amount approved : 68,600 USD
2016 Valorisation de la Lopé (Approved)   30,000 USD
2006 Elaboration du Dossier d'Inscription de l'Ecosystème et ... (Approved)   28,600 USD
2002 Elaboration du dossier de proposition d'inscription de ... (Approved)   10,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

January 2015: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 13 January 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/1147/documents/ and provides the following information:

  • The Gabonese authorities have taken the decision to amend the Lastourville / Mikouyi road project, which was to pass through the Lopé, in preference for a route along the eastern buffer zone of the property. However, this project has been suspended for economic reasons. The Gabon's National Parks Agency (ANPN), the authority in charge of the management of the property, is closely following the possible resumption of work and is awaiting the submission of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the project;
  • The optical fibre project was implemented in accordance with an ESIA validated by the ANPN. The fibre was installed, along the traced route, between February and April 2016 under the supervision of the ANPN teams;
  • The project "Central Africa World Heritage Forest Initiative” (CAWHFI) will make it possible to recruit in 2017 an assistant, based in the property and responsible for cultural aspects. An NANP / Ministry of Culture team has been trained and will be in charge of the valorization of the archaeological values ​​of the property. CAWHFI will also enable the elaboration of the development plan for the historic buildings, the rehabilitation of the eco-museum, and will facilitate new prospecting of rock art sites;
  • The management plan has been updated and validated by the Local Management Advisory Committee (LMAC);
  • A new tool to assess the effectiveness of the management has been established and the emphasis has been placed on resolving the "human-wildlife" conflict. With funding from the African World Heritage Fund, 3.5 km of fencing has been installed to protect agricultural fields from wildlife, notably elephants;
  • Research activities continue with partners such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The ANPN ensures surveillance despite the small number of guards, but it recognizes that the pressure on the property is minimal due to the absence of roads in the property. With new financial support from the European Union, the ANPN will recruit 40 guards in 2017/2018 to strengthen its surveillance.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The State Party's decision to deviate the proposed Lastourville / Mikouyi Road to the north of the property should be welcomed. It is noted that the State Party is awaiting the results of the ESIA for the road project, without specifying whether it will take account of the historic complexes. It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to ensure that the ESIA includes a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties. This HIA should include a specific section that focuses on the potential impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the historic complexes of the property in accordance with Decision 39 COM 7B.32.

As regards the optical fibre, it is noted that the installation work was carried out under the control of the ANPN. No negative impacts are mentioned in the report since the fibre was laid along the existing railway line.

The reactive monitoring mission of January 2015 identified a series of conservation measures for archaeological sites. Since 2016, and in the framework of the CAWHFI project, the World Heritage Centre is providing 300,000 Euros in support of the ANPN over a period of three years. This funding enabled the recruitment of an agent in charge of cultural heritage. Throughout the project, support will also help to draw up a plan for the development of the historical complexes and to carry out numerous activities for their delimitation and valorization (geo-referencing, sign posting, etc.). International assistance for conservation from the World Heritage Fund was approved in May 2016 and also enabled training on the management of the cultural aspects of the property.

As concerns the surveillance of the property, the mission noted that the lack of personnel did not allow for adequate surveillance and reaction to the threat of poaching. The information that the ANPN will recruit 40 guards over the period 2017/2018 with the support of the European Union is therefore welcomed. This workforce will contribute to the increase in the number of patrols and the strengthening of the management of the property. The adoption by the ANPN of the IMET management tool (Integrated Management Effectiveness) should be welcomed by the Committee as this methodology will make it possible to assess the effectiveness of the management of the property and to meet the conservation objectives. The management plan for the property has been updated and validated. It is noted that pressures on the property, such as poaching, remain relatively low and that the ANPN stresses the resolution of the "human-wildlife" conflict. Electric fencing around agricultural fields can help protect crops in order to improve the lives of local communities. However, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to monitor closely the impacts of these fences on the OUV of the property to ensure that they do not constitute a barrier to wildlife movement and ecological connectivity between the property and the surrounding forests. In addition, the ANPN will, with EU funding, strengthen the involvement of the Local Management Advisory Committee (LMAC) in the management of the property, which should also address the "human-wildlife" conflict.

It should be noted that the report does not contain data on wildlife populations and trends. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre and IUCN with this information, if available, to assess wildlife populations and trends in the property since its listing in July 2007.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.37
Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda (Gabon) (C/N 1147rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.32, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the State Party's decision to deflect the project for the Lastourville / Mikouyi road towards the north of the property, but requests the State Party, prior to the resumption of the project, to ensure that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) includes a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties, with a specific section focusing on the potential impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the historic complexes of the property to allow for a rigorous review of the proposed options, and to submit the results of this assessment to the World Heritage Centre for consideration by the Advisory Bodies;
  4. Takes note of the completion of the optical fibre work under the supervision of the Gabon's National Parks Agency (ANPN) and in accordance with the ESIA validated by the ANPN;
  5. Commends the State Party for the progress made in the conservation and management of the property in accordance with the recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring Mission, and encourages it to continue their implementation;
  6. Notes with satisfaction the financial support of the European Union through the Central African World Heritage Forests Initiative (CAWHFI) project, which has made it possible to recruit an agent in charge of cultural heritage to conduct activities for the protection and enhancement of the historical and archaeological complexes, as well as new guards to reinforce the management of the property;
  7. Also encourages the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for consideration by the Advisory Bodies, the plans for the development of the historical complexes when they become available;
  8. Also takes note that poaching remains relatively low and that the State Party stresses the resolution of the "human-wildlife" conflict and also requests the State Party to monitor closely the impacts of electric fencing around fields to ensure that the ecological connectivity of the property with the surrounding forests is maintained;
  9. Further requests the State Party to update wildlife monitoring data in order to assess the populations and trends of key species and to better monitor and respond to the impacts of poaching, and to transmit them as soon as possible to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by IUCN;
  10. Further encourages the State Party to continue its efforts to ensure the conservation of the property and reminds it of the need to inform the World Heritage Centre in good time of any major development projects that could threaten the OUV of the property, before any irreversible decision is taken, in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.37

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.32, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the State Party's decision to deflect the project for the Lastourville / Mikouyi road towards the north of the property, but requests the State Party, prior to the resumption of the project, to ensure that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) includes a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties, with a specific section focusing on the potential impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the historic complexes of the property to allow for a rigorous review of the proposed options, and to submit the results of this assessment to the World Heritage Centre for consideration by the Advisory Bodies;
  4. Takes note of the completion of the optical fibre work under the supervision of the Gabon's National Parks Agency (ANPN) and in accordance with the ESIA validated by the ANPN;
  5. Commends the State Party for the progress made in the conservation and management of the property in accordance with the recommendations of the 2015 Reactive Monitoring Mission, and encourages it to continue their implementation;
  6. Notes with satisfaction the financial support of the European Union through the Central African World Heritage Forests Initiative (CAWHFI) project, which has made it possible to recruit an agent in charge of cultural heritage to conduct activities for the protection and enhancement of the historical and archaeological complexes, as well as new guards to reinforce the management of the property;
  7. Also encourages the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for consideration by the Advisory Bodies, the plans for the development of the historical complexes when they become available;
  8. Also takes note that poaching remains relatively low and that the State Party stresses the resolution of the "human-wildlife" conflict and also requests the State Party to monitor closely the impacts of electric fencing around fields to ensure that the ecological connectivity of the property with the surrounding forests is maintained;
  9. Further requests the State Party to update wildlife monitoring data in order to assess the populations and trends of key species and to better monitor and respond to the impacts of poaching, and to transmit them as soon as possible to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by IUCN;
  10. Further encourages the State Party to continue its efforts to ensure the conservation of the property and reminds it of the need to inform the World Heritage Centre in good time of any major development projects that could threaten the OUV of the property, before any irreversible decision is taken, in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
Report year: 2017
Gabon
Date of Inscription: 2007
Category: Mixed
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(ix)(x)
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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