1.         Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania) (N 199bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2014-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Poaching and the ensuing dramatic declines in elephant populations, and the effects thereof on the ecosystem

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

In progress

Corrective measures identified

In progress

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/199/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1984-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 67,980
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/199/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

June 2007, November 2008 and December 2013: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions. February 2017: IUCN Reactive Monitoring Mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/199/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 31 January 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/199/documents/ with the following information:

The World Heritage Centre sent two letters to the State Party: one dated 8 August 2017 regarding its decision to move ahead with the Stiegler’s Gorge dam despite the Committee’s concern, and one dated 11 September 2017 to request further information on the public bidding process to construct the dam. On 26 January 2018, the UNESCO Director-General sent a letter to the President of the United Republic of Tanzania to express concern about the dam project. On 9 May 2018, the World Heritage Centre and IUC[N] were informed about the tender document published by Tanzania Forest Service Agency on 25 April 2018 for the sale of standing trees equivalent to 143 638 ha within the property (see http://www.tfs.go.tz/en/resources/category/tenders-and-vacancies)

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Recalling the Committee’s position that the construction of dams with large reservoirs within the boundaries of World Heritage properties is incompatible with World Heritage status (Decision 40 COM 7), the recent developments related to the Stiegler’s Gorge project, and in particular the tendering of logging rights for 143 638 ha at the proposed location of the hydropower dam within the property, are of utmost concern. There is little doubt that the complete deforestation of such a large area within the property will lead to irreversible damage to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). In addition, various studies indicate the dam could threaten the long-term availability of water resources and have detrimental impacts on the downstream Rufiji–Mafia–Kilwa Marine Ramsar Site and the livelihoods of up to 200,000 people. In spite of a previous commitment by the State Party (Decision 38 COM 7B.95), there is no information that a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is being conducted, even though the bidding processes to identify a contractor for the dam and for the logging are underway. It is noted that Tanzanian environmental legislation also specifically requires an SEA to be undertaken for any hydropower or mining development.  As part of the approval of the boundary modification in 2012, the State Party explicitly committed to not undertake any development activities within Selous and its buffer zone without prior approval of the Committee (Decision 36 COM 8B.43).

It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the State Party not to proceed with the planned logging and any other activities related to the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project, which will affect the property’s OUV and whose impacts will be difficult to reverse, prior to undertaking a comprehensive SEA to the highest international standards. The SEA should identify the cumulative impacts of the project on the property and its wider landscape, and to consider alternative options to meet Tanzania’s power generation needs. Large-scale deforestation within the property clearly represents a potential danger to the property in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines. It is therefore recommended that the Committee add this issue to the justification for the continued inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It is further recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring Mission to the property to review the status of the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project, assess the state of conservation of the property and assist the State Party in finalizing the DSOCR.

The launch of the SECAD project and its contribution to the implementation of the EAP are welcomed. As it is unclear which activities are currently underway and which remain unfunded, a detailed progress report on implementation is required. The support from China is also welcomed, and it is recommended that these efforts be aligned with the EAP.

Law enforcement efforts appear to have reduced poaching, but this would have to be confirmed through detailed information on the data collection and an aerial census. Whilst the preliminary results of the elephant demographic survey show a positive reproduction rate, caution is needed to extrapolate such findings for the entire property. Details of the study and its methodology should be provided (e.g. information on the selection of the surveyed groups, comparison to previous demographic studies, and the classification used to explain why all individuals within the 0-5 age group were counted as female). As recommended by the 2017 mission, it is advisable to count the individuals younger than 1 year old as a separate age group due to their higher mortality rates. The State Party should be requested to develop a population model with the currently available data to estimate the recovery of the elephant population, assuming poaching can be reduced drastically, and to finalize the DSOCR for the Committee’s adoption. The indications that black rhino are still present in the property are encouraging, although the remaining numbers may be very low. It is urgent to collect more data to evaluate existing population size and viability, and to develop a strategy to ensure the survival of the species in the property.

Recent reports of legal hunting concessions being surrendered are noted. As trophy hunting has been generating much revenue for the property, it is critical that alternative sustainable sources of funding be identified to support anti-poaching and other conservation efforts.

It is of concern that the five-year action plan to protect the Selous-Niassa corridor is still not approved, lacks funding and has not yet been submitted to the World Heritage Centre. Urgent action is needed to secure this ecological corridor in light of the area’s demographic growth and rapid development.

It is also recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the revised ESIA for the Kidunda dam, including a model for the flooding regime, as well as the ESIA for the Kito-1 oil and gas prospection project in the Kilombero valley floodplain, including a study on its hydrological regime, impacts on groundwater resources, and an assessment of potential downstream impacts on the OUV, for review by IUCN before any decisions to move forward with these projects are taken.

While the Mkuju Uranium mining project is suspended, a comprehensive ESIA should be conducted if the design of the mining project is altered and In Situ Leaching technology is applied.

The efforts to include an area in the Mbarika Mountains into the property to fulfill the commitment made by the State Party when the boundary modification was approved are noted, but no information is provided on the ecological importance of this area and how it will enhance the property’s OUV.

Finally, it is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.  

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.56

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.5, 36 COM 8B.43, 40 COM 7, 40 COM 7A.47 and 41 COM 7A.17, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Expresses its grave concern about the State Party’s decision to develop the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project, and in particular the tendering of logging rights for 143,638 ha within the property, considers that the resulting large-scale deforestation represents a clear potential danger to the property in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and decides to add this issue to the justification for the continued inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  4. Also recalling the Committee’s position that the construction of dams with large reservoirs within the boundaries of World Heritage properties is incompatible with their World Heritage status, as well as the commitment made by the State Party when the boundary modification was approved in 2012 not to undertake any development activities within Selous Game Reserve and its buffer zone without prior approval of the World Heritage Committee, reiterates its requests to the State Party to fully assess the cumulative impacts of the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project on the property and its wider landscape through a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), undertaken to the highest international standards, and to consider alternative options to meet its power generation needs;
  5. Urges the State Party to ensure that the planned logging and all other activities related to the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower project, which will affect the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and will be difficult to reverse, do not proceed prior to the completion of the SEA and its review by IUCN, and requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to review the status of the project, assess the state of conservation of the property and to assist the State Party in finalizing the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  6. Welcomes the launch of the Selous Ecosystem Conservation and Development (SECAD) project, funded by the German Development Bank, and its contribution to the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan (EAP), and also urges the State Party to ensure that the EAP is fully carried out and to report on progress made;
  7. Noting that the efforts to improve law enforcement in the property appear to have reduced poaching, also requests the State Party to provide details on the data collection and to confirm these positive trends through an aerial census of the elephant population;
  8. Also noting the indications that black rhinos are still present in the property, further requests the State Party to collect more data to evaluate the size and viability of the population, and to develop a strategy to ensure the long-term survival of the species;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, details of the elephant demographic survey and its methodology, including information on the selection of the surveyed elephant groups, comparisons with other demographic studies and classification of males and females;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to finalize the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) based on currently available data on elephants and the advice provided by the 2017 mission, and to submit it the World Heritage Centre for the Committee’s adoption;
  11. Notes with concern that the five-year Action Plan to protect the Selous-Niassa corridor is still not approved, lacks funding and has not been submitted to the World Heritage Centre, and further urges the State Party to take action to secure this important ecological corridor, and continue to report on progress made;
  12. Urges furthermore the State Party to submit as soon as possible to the World Heritage Centre the revised Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Kidunda dam, including a model for the flooding regime, as well the ESIA for the Kito-1 oil and gas prospection project, including a study on the hydrological regime of the Kilombero floodplain and a specific assessment of potential downstream impacts on the OUV of the property;
  13. Whilst noting the suspension of the Mkuju River Uranium Mining project, also reiterates its request to the State Party to conduct a full new ESIA and submit it to the World Heritage Centre if the design of the project is altered and In Situ Leaching technology (ISL) is applied;
  14. Requests moreover the State Party to submit the new General Management Plan of the property as soon as it is available, as well as detailed information on the ecological importance of the area in the Mbarika mountains, which is proposed to be included within the property, in accordance with Decision 36 COM 8B.43;
  15. Finally 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;
  16. Also decides to retain Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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: