1.         Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Central African Republic) (N 475)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

Criteria  (ix)(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

Not yet identified

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1761
Updated proposed in the draft Decision below

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/475/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2012)
Total amount approved: USD 225,488
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/475/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

May 2001, April 2009 and March/April 2019: 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/475/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 4 March 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/475/documents/ providing the following information:

The joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission, requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session (Doha, 2014), was finally organized from 26 March to 2 April 2019. Its main objective was to evaluate the possibility of a regeneration of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and if positive, to make recommendations for an emergency plan to avoid the irreversible loss of the OUV. The zone where the property is located remains totally under the control of an armed group called the Popular Front for the Renewal of the Central African Republic (FPRC). With support from the State Party, the WCS and the United Nations Interdimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) experts have been able to visit the WCS base in the field at Bamingui and organize exchanges with the authorities in the region, namely dignitaries, local representatives, FPRC leaders and the MINUSCA. Due to insecurity issues, it was not possible to visit the property, but an overfly was organized. The mission report is available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/475/documents/.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The mission concluded that the OUV is very questionable. An aerial census in 2017 showed that large mammals had all practically disappeared. In fact, the presence of species key for the OUV (including elephant, Buffon’s cob, Bongo, Sitatunga, topi, ostrich, African wild dog, lion and leopard) were unable to be confirmed. Moreover, less than 15 individuals of buffalo, Waterbuck, Derby eland and Kordofan giraffe were observed. 

Although the habitat was largely intact, the property is invaded by transhumant pastoralists, poachers, fishermen, and artisanal miners. The property no longer benefited from surveillance and management following the closure of the surveillance base at Manovo in 2012. Due to insecurity, the corrective measures proposed by the 2009 mission have not been implemented as the region has been controlled by armed groups since 2012.

However, the mission considered that at this stage, it was impossible to pronounce on the irreversible loss of the OUV of the property or on the possibility of its regeneration. Although the census was unable to confirm their presence, it is possible that certain species are still present in a very reduced number. The existence and viability of these relic populations should be confirmed by ground inventories and camera traps. These results will enable a precision as to the chances of success of an eventual regeneration of the OUV of the property.

Furthermore, the recent peace agreements signed on 6 February 2019 in Bangui, between the Central African President and the representatives of the 14 armed groups, provide hope for a return of security in the region. Discussions during the mission demonstrated that all the local stakeholders were conscious of the urgency to conserve the Park.

In addition, the PPP agreement foresees a resumption of the management of the property, with a progressive resumption of ground surveillance accompanied by aerial support. It is anticipated that a priority zone, based on the presence of residual wildlife, will be rendered secure and to progressively extend this secure zone to cover the entire property. For this approach to function, surveillance means must be established before the next dry season to halt all illicit exploitation of the natural resources (transhumance, poaching, fishing and artisanal mining activities). Funds must be mobilized without delay to set up this emergency plan.

The mission considered that the success of the emergency plan is closely linked to the settlement of the regional transhumance issue, that exacerbates the security crisis and leads to incessant poaching. This requires the implementation of the existing regional agreements with Cameroon and Chad on anti-poaching and other transboundary criminal activities, and then to extend them to the Sudan and South Sudan for increased efficacy and coherence. The implementation of these agreements must be integrated into a management strategy for transhumance, taking into account the transfer corridors foreseen in the SDAT.

The mission proposes to grant a delay of 4 years to see whether it is possible to restore the integrity of the property and to collect additional data to evaluate whether a regeneration of the OUV is still valid.

The mission was informed of petroleum exploration activities in the vicinity of the property. It was unable to clarify whether the exploration blocks I, II and III of the petroleum block A overlap the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide a precise map of the petroleum block A and that any overlap with the boundaries of the property be avoided, in conformity with national legislation, and reiterating the position of the Committee in this respect.

The mission also held discussions with officials from the Ministry of Public Works, the World Bank and the French Development Agency concerning the rehabilitation project for the National Road 8 Ndélé – Birao that crosses the Park. An Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) will be carried out and should study the direct and indirect impacts on the property, as well as alternative routes in order to propose an Environmental and Social Management Plan. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the ESIA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, before approving the project, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Finally, it is recommended that the Committee maintain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger and continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7A.5

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.45, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Regrets that the State Party was unable to implement the corrective measures proposed by the 2009 mission due to insecurity problems in the region controlled by armed groups since 2012;
  4. Expresses its deepest concern as regards the conclusions of the 2019 mission according to which the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property is highly questionable, indicating an almost total disappearance of large mammals, and that the integrity of the property is also questionable due to combined heavy pressure from poaching, regional transhumance, illegal fishing and artisanal mining exploitation, as well as a total lack of surveillance and management since 2012;
  5. Takes note of the conclusion of the mission that at this stage, it is not possible to affirm that the OUV is irreversibly lost and that additional studies are necessary to qualify and quantify the relic populations of wildlife in order to assess the perspectives for regeneration of the characteristics of the property justifying its OUV;
  6. Urges the State Party, with support from its technical and financial partners, to implement the following corrective measures, revised during the 2019 mission:
    a) Define a priority zone in the property based on the monitoring results of wildlife,
    b) Develop and implement before the next dry season an emergency security plan for this zone by reopening the surveillance bases, and the establishment of ground surveillance teams supported by an aerial surveillance system, as well as the establishment of legal procedures to halt all illicit exploitation of the natural resources in this zone, notably poaching, transhumance and illicit fishing and artisanal mining exploitation,
    c) Set up a robust bio-monitoring mechanism for the large and medium-sized wildlife associated with a monitoring device (SMART) for patrols to precisely assess the viability and the potential for regeneration of the mammalian wildlife,
    d) Implement, in cooperation with all the local, national and regional stakeholders, a management strategy for transhumance through the reopening of the legal transfer corridors outside the property,
    e) Implement the existing regional agreements with Cameroon and Chad on anti-poaching and other transboundary criminal activities, such as the Transboundary Tripartite Anti-poaching Agreement and the “Ndjaména Declaration”, and afterwards extend them to Sudan and South Sudan for increased efficacy and coherence;
  7. Congratulates the European Union for its continuous support in the conservation of the natural resources in the North-Eastern Protected Areas Complex and launches an appeal to the States Parties of the Convention and the public and private donors to support the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) agreement signed by the State Party with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for the management of the property and the implementation of the emergency plan;
  8. Decides to grant a delay of 4 years to the State Party to see whether it is possible to restore the integrity of the property, collect additional data on the state of wildlife to assess whether a regeneration of the OUV is still possible, and requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission before its 48th session in 2024, to evaluate the results of both the implementation of the emergency plan and bio-monitoring;
  9. Notes with concern the petroleum exploration activities in the petroleum block A and requests the State Party to:
    a) Clarify the situation of the petroleum block A and the exploration blocks I, II and III and ensure that no license overlaps the property, in conformity with national legislation and the property’s World Heritage status,
    b) Analyze the direct and indirect impacts on its OUV of all envisaged petroleum projects in the vicinity of the property, with an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in line with international standards and to submit this EISA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before granting any exploitation license, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Reiterates its established position regarding mining and petroleum exploration and exploitation being incompatible with World Heritage status, policy supported by the commitments undertaken by the leaders of the industry, such as Shell and Total, not to engage in such activities in World Heritage properties;
  11. Also requests the State Party to carry out the ESIA for the rehabilitation project of the National Road 8 Ndél -Birao to assess the direct and indirect impacts on the property, prioritizing the less prejudicial option for its integrity, with appropriate accompanying measures, and to submit the ESIA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, before taking a final decision on the project, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  12. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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;
  13. Also decides to continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  14. Further decides to retain Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Central African Republic) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 43 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/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3.Corr),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: