1.         Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 137)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1997-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 has been developed during the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents), but the biological indicators still need to be quantified based on the results of a census of large mammals available at late 2018

Corrective measures identified

Adopted in 2017, see page http://whc.unesco.org/fr/decisions/6954 

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/fr/decisions/6954

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-2018)
Total amount approved: USD 140,970
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 1,003,900 from the United Nations Foundation (UNF), and the Governments of Italy and Belgium and by the Rapid Response Facility (RRF)  

Previous monitoring missions

1996-2006: several World Heritage Centre missions in the framework of the DRC Programme; December 2009 and April 2017: 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/137/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 15 February 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents/, providing the following information:

Two requests for International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund has also been submitted to support aerial surveillance of the property and to the delineation of the Park boundaries.

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

Current conservation issues

On 15 February 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of implementation of Decision 41 COM 7A.12. This report is available at the address: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/42COM/documents/#state_of_conservationreports  and provides the following information:

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Cooperation between ICCN and the FARDC, having led to the visit of the PNKB Director in February 2018 to the Lulingu sector, occupied up to that date, is commendable progress. However, the security situation in the lowlands remains of concern. On 4 March 2018, a team comprising 27 ICCN agents and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) was kidnapped by militia while they were carrying out biological inventories in the Lulingu sector. Thanks to the intervention of ICCN and the provincial government, the entire team was freed on 24 March and all are sound and safe. It is recommended that the Committee commend the courage of the ICCN teams who, too often, exercise their functions at the risk of their lives.

The reported reduction in the surveillance coverage of the property is a worrying issue. It is noted that the surveillance effort (98% of the patrols) concentrate on the highland sector. The 2017 Reactive Monitoring Mission noted that ICCN had very limited access to an important part of the property. It is recommended that the Committee express its deepest concern as regards the persistent insecurity in a large, part of the property due to the presence of rebel groups carrying out illegal activities, such as artisanal mining exploitation and poaching.

In spite of financial difficulties, ICCN continued the recruitment and training of guards and has acquired new material. The efforts of the State Party are appreciable and it is recommended that the Committee encourage it to deploy guards to all the sectors of the property, when security permits, to ensure adequate surveillance of the property.

As regards the issue of the ecological corridor, it is noted that ICCN is intensifying its efforts to implement the recommendations of the 2015 Forum. The ICCN organized field missions in cooperation with the South-Kivu Provincial Consultative Forestry Committee, a body regrouping different state services, including governorate and cadastral services. They resulted in the identification of 18 illegal farms and the request to cancel land titles. However, the situation has been continuing for far too long and ICCN has attempted for decades to evacuate these farms without success. The occupation of the ecological corridor remains one of the major obstacles for the removal of the PNKB from the List of World Heritage in Danger. Consequently, it is recommended that the Committee congratulate the State Party for the steps undertaken enabling the identification of the illegal farms and requests it to accelerate the cancellation process of the, land titles and the evacuation efforts of the illegal occupants. These actions are crucial to guaranteeing ecological continuity between the lowland and highland sectors of the property. The State Party shall submit to the World Heritage Centre the maps and all information to enable the evaluation of the impact of the encroachment on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

It is noted with regret that no information as to the state of wildlife is provided in the report. The global inventory of the PNKB, that was begun in 2014, has not yet been completed due to insecurity. The results of this study are crucial for the evaluation of the OUV of the property. Preliminary results concerning the gorillas in the Nzovu sector was very worrying.  It is to be hoped that the results will be more encouraging in the other sectors. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to develop, with support from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, indicators for the draft Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) as soon as the census information is available.

It is finally recommended that the Committee maintain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger and continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism.

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

Analysis and conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The efforts of ICCN to implement the Kinshasa Declaration and the corrective measures in each of the properties as well as strengthening its collaboration with the FARDC and the different state institutions are favourably welcomed. Commendable progress has also been made with the law-enforcement equipment made available to improve security for the guards.

Insecurity caused by the presence of armed groups and various militia continue to threaten the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of most of the properties located in eastern DRC. In particular, it has a heavy human impact and in this respect, it is relevant to recall that the year 2017 was extremely tragic for ICCN staff. Twenty-one guards and a driver were killed in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and in the Virunga National Park and many others were seriously injured. They were killed during attacks and ambushes deliberately targeting the ICCN staff. At the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a team of 27 ICCN agents were kidnapped last March for more than a month by a group of militia. It is recommended that the Committee strongly condemn this violence, address its condolences to the families of the victims and ICCN staff and that it expresses its utmost concern as regards the continuing insecurity in and around most of the properties located in eastern DRC.

The delay engendered in the deployment of the CorPPN contingent is regrettable. It is recommended that the Committee reiterates its request to the State Party to provide human and financial means to enable it to become operational, and that it also requests the State Party to implement, in conformity with the Kinshasa Declaration, all means to establish security conditions for the ICCN staff to fulfil their mission under adequate conditions and without risk of life.

Concerning the issue of petroleum exploration, the State Party has informed the World Heritage Centre of the attribution of the three blocks that encroach a part of Salonga National Park. Other blocks should soon be attributed; if they were attributed, they would cover the total area of the property. Furthermore, the World Heritage Centre was informed in May of a proposal made in March 2018 by the Ministry of Hydrocarbons to its government of degazettement, at the national level of one or several zones of the Virunga and Salonga National Parks, to carry out petroleum explorations. It is noted that a partial reclassification of these Parks unilaterally decided by the State Party would question the legal protection of the properties. This legal protection is one of the three components of the OUV. Moreover, modifications to the boundaries of the World Heritage properties linked to extractive industries must be treated through the procedure applied for major modifications to boundaries, in conformity with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines, taking into account the potential impact of these projects on the OUV. Furthermore, this proposal is in contradiction to the Kinshasa Declaration that is committed to maintaining the protection status of the properties. It is therefore recommended that the Committee expresses its utmost concern regarding this issue and that it reiterates its position concerning the incompatibility of oil exploration and exploitation with World Heritage status. It is also recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to cancel these concessions and to attribute no new ones in Salonga National Park and its periphery. It is recommended that the Committee reiterates its deep concern as regards the proposal of degazettement one or several zones of the Salonga and Virunga National Parks to authorize petroleum exploration and that it recalls that modifications made to the boundaries of the World Heritage properties must be made in conformity with the provisions of the Operational Guidelines and must be based on strengthening the OUV of the properties, rather than facilitating extractive activities.

The efforts of the State Party to render the FOCON Trust Fund operational are warmly welcomed. It is recommended that the Committee congratulate the State Party for this important progress and encourages it, as well as the donors, to provide this Fund with adequate financial means to respond to the needs of the protected areas and the DRC World Heritage properties.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.48

Note: the following report on the World Heritage properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) needs to be read in conjunction with Item 52.

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.8, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Expresses its relief as regards the liberation of the agents of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) taken hostage by an armed group and commends the courage of the field staff of the property who exercise their functions under extremely difficult conditions and often at the risk of their lives;
  4. Also expresses its utmost concern as to the persistent insecurity prevailing in a large part of the lowlands and the decrease in surveillance coverage of the property over the period under consideration;
  5. Notes with satisfaction the recruitment and training of new guards and the infrastructures established to strengthen surveillance and encourages the State Party, when security permits, to deploy personnel to all the sectors of the property to ensure an effective surveillance;
  6. Warmly welcomes the identification, together with the South-Kivu Provincial Consultative Forestry Committee, of illegal farms installed in the ecological corridor, and requests the State Party to accelerate the cancellation process of the land titles in order to evacuate the illegal occupants, which is crucial in guaranteeing the ecological continuity between the lowlands and highlands of the property, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre the maps and all relevant information to evaluate the impact of the encroachment on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  7. Urges the State Party to continue with the implementation of the corrective measures, as updated during the 2017 mission;
  8. Regrets that the security problems have delayed the global census of the property, which was begun in 2014, and reiterates that the results of these studies are crucial for the evaluation of the OUV of the property;
  9. Also requests the State Party to develop, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, indicators for the draft Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), as soon as the final results of the wildlife inventory are available;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 43rd session in 2019;
  11. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism;
  12. Also decides to retain Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

 

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.52

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.12, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017) and reaffirming the need to implement the Kinshasa Declaration adopted in 2011,
  3. Expresses its concern regarding continued insecurity in and around the properties located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), condemns the violence perpetrated against the guards and the staff of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), killed in the line of duty, and addresses its most sincere condolences to their families and all the ICCN staff;
  4. Regrets the delay experienced in the establishment of the Corps responsible for the security of the National Parks and relevant protected areas (CorPPN) and requests the State Party to provide, without delay, financial means to enable the deployment of contingents in the sites to render them secure and combat the different armed groups;
  5. Expresses its utmost concern as regards the attribution of blocks for oil exploration in the Central Basin of the DRC, that covers several sectors of Salonga National Park, reiterates with insistence its request to the State Party to cancel these concessions and to undertake a commitment not to authorize any new oil exploration and exploitation within the boundaries of the property, and reiterates its position according to which all oil and gas exploration and exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status;
  6. Expresses its deep concern again as to the proposal by the Ministry of Hydrocarbons of degazettement at the national level of one or several zones of Salonga and Virunga National Parks to authorize petroleum exploration activities and recalls that modifications made to the boundaries of World Heritage properties relating to extractive industries must be carried out in conformity with the procedures applied to major modifications of boundaries set out in Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines, taking account of the potential impact of such projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  7. Also recalls that any proposal for modification to the boundaries of a World Heritage property must be based on strengthening its OUV and should not be proposed with the aim of facilitating extractive activities;
  8. Commends the efforts of the State Party to make operational the Trust Fund for protected areas in the DRC, namely the « Okapi Funds for Conservation – FOCON », and also requests the State Party, as well as the donor community, to provide it with adequate financial means to respond to the needs of the protected areas and the World Heritage properties of the DRC;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, a detailed report on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, the security situation in the properties, and the status of the oil exploration and exploitation concessions that encroach on World Heritage properties, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020.

Decision Adopted: 42 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/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: