1.         Simien National Park (Ethiopia) (N 9)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1996-2017

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1978-2013)
Total amount approved: USD 323,171
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

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)

Previous monitoring missions

2001, 2006 and 2009: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions; 2017: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 26 January 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/documents, providing the following information:

On 5 March 2018, the State Party submitted three supporting documents: Regulation no. 337/2014 designating the new boundaries of the Simien Mountains National Park, a 2013 draft proposal for a boundary modification; and a map displaying the current boundaries of the National Park and a surrounding buffer zone.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The high-level celebration organized to mark the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and the anniversary of the national park constitutes an impressive re-affirmation, on the part of the Ethiopian authorities, of the iconic status of the Simien Mountains and the Walia ibex in Ethiopia. The renewed donor interest is similarly encouraging and can make a decisive contribution to address the well-documented challenges Simien continues to face. It is therefore encouraged that the related project documents and operational plans be shared with the World Heritage Centre. While appreciating progress made, continued efforts are required to secure effective management and conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), guided by the Committee’s requests and the recommendations of the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission.

Acknowledging the challenges surrounding the relocation of the Gich community, the KfW-funded efforts to fulfill all commitments, including implementing the livelihood restoration strategy and programme, should be continued, taking care to apply the highest standards, especially in support of vulnerable households and individuals.

The revision of the General Management Plan (GMP) presents the first opportunity to determine priorities at the scale of the substantially enlarged national park and establish a buffer zone in the adjacent areas. Key objectives of management should continue to focus on effective reduction of overgrazing, while promoting alternative livelihoods and meaningful local participation in management and governance, along with tourism management. The reported recovery of the vegetation resulting from the implementation of the existing Grazing Pressure Reduction Strategy is welcomed, and the commitment to further develop this strategy is appreciated. The updated grazing strategy should be incorporated into the next GMP. Clear monitoring protocols for the populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada need to be agreed upon as soon as possible and should also be integrated in the GMP as part of a systematic long-term monitoring programme.

The State Party’s commitment to a Significant Boundary Modification to align the boundaries of the property and the National Park is highly welcomed, and the World Heritage Centre and IUCN are prepared to provide advice to complete the draft nomination dossier to be submitted for adoption by the Committee. The State Party should take advantage of this process to simultaneously formalize the buffer zone and to harmonize the currently differing names of the national park and the property.

While noting progress made to complete the overdue alternative road aiming at reducing disturbance caused by the existing main road traversing the park, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to complete the works and to submit the EIA for the part of the new road crossing the national park. It is appreciated that the State Party is committed to re-align the power transmission line, which currently affects the property’s natural beauty and its conditions of integrity, upon completion of the new road. As recommended by the 2017 mission, the management of all road and energy infrastructure should be specified in the upcoming GMP. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.13, and that no new lodges are foreseen in the current GMP and that they are prohibited in national parks according to Regulations No. 163/2008, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that all new lodge developments are located outside the boundary of the National Park and that EIAs for these projects are submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.91

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7A.43 and 41 COM 7A.13, adopted at its 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the State Party for organizing a major event to mark the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and the 50th anniversary of Simien Mountains National Park, thereby demonstrating its strong political commitment to conserving the property, and requests the State Party to continue its efforts to secure effective management and conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  4. Appreciates the renewed interest on the part of donors and non-governmental partners to support the property and its surroundings, and encourages the State Party to share the related project documents and operational plans with the World Heritage Centre;
  5. Welcomes the follow-up to previous Committee decisions and to the 2017 mission recommendations, and also requests the State Party to implement the outstanding decisions and recommendations, in particular to:
    1. Finalize the new General Management Plan (GMP), to be applied to the enlarged national park and its buffer zone, and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review,
    2. Give management priority to realistic, fundable and socially acceptable responses to overgrazing, the promotion of alternative livelihoods and enhanced tourism management, and integrate related objectives and plans as part of the GMP,
    3. Agree upon clear, systematic and long-term monitoring protocols for the populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada as soon as possible and integrate them in the GMP,
    4. Strengthen the participation of local communities in the management and governance of the property;
  6. Also welcomes the ongoing support to the livelihoods and well-being of the relocated Gich community with funding from the German Government, and further requests the State Party to continue these efforts in application of the highest standards, especially in support of vulnerable households and individuals;
  7. Reiterates its longstanding request to the State Party to finalize and submit a proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification for the entire Simien Mountains National Park and its buffer zone, as legally defined today, and requests furthermore the State Party to simultaneously formalize the buffer zone and harmonize the currently differing names of the National Park and the property, and also encourages the State Party to request technical advice from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN as needed;
  8. Noting that the alternative road aiming at reducing disturbance of the existing main road in important afro-alpine habitats has been almost completed, urges the State Party to complete this overdue project, and to submit the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the part of the new road crossing the National Park to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, as per Decision 41 COM 7A.13;
  9. Appreciates the State Party’s commitment to re-align the power transmission line, which currently affects the property’s exceptional natural beauty and conditions of integrity, upon completion of the alternative road;
  10. Also noting that four new lodges are being considered along the border of the Simien Mountains National Park, requests moreover the State Party to ensure that all new lodge developments are located outside the boundary of the national park and to submit the EIAs for any new lodge projects to the World Heritage Centre for review, as per Decision 41 COM 7A.13, as soon as they become available;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.