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Selous Game Reserve

United Republic of Tanzania
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Financial resources
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
  • Water infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Significant decline of wildlife populations due to poaching ; Need for increased involvement of local communities

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Significant decline of wildlife populations due to poaching
  • Insufficient funding and management
  • Modification of legal protective status to permit mineral and hydrocarbon prospecting and mining inside the property
  • Excision of land from the property to accommodate a uranium mine
  • Operationalizing the uranium mining project
  • Inadequate tourism management and development
  • Proposed dam development without adequate impact assessment
  • Tendering of logging rights for the proposed dam
  • Lack of disaster preparedness
  • Need for buffer zone
  • Need for increased involvement of local communities
  • Alien invasive species
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; tendering of logging rights for large-scale deforestation resulting from the proposed hydropower dam

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

In progress

Corrective Measures for the property

In progress

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
In progress
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 3 (from 1984-1999)
Total amount approved : 67,980 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 28 February 2019, 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:

  • Progress report of the Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is submitted. Intensified patrolling has led to a significant reduction of poaching, with only 5 elephant carcasses found in the property in 2017/18;
  • A new General Management Plan (GMP) will be developed following the approval of the new 5 year Strategic Plan for the Tanzanian Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA);
  • The results of the October 2018 aerial wildlife census are not yet available, but will be used to establish the baseline for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). The elephant demographic survey was also conducted;
  • Two rhino protection and monitoring units have been established. One rhino was reported in October 2018;
  • The Mkuju River uranium mining project is deferred until further notice but a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be conducted in case In Situ Leaching technology is used. Discussions are underway to add an area in the Mbarika Mountains to compensate for the area excluded by the 2012 boundary modification;
  • The updated hydrology report for the Kidunda Dam (dated December 2017) was submitted. A revised EIA is available but not yet submitted;
  • The action plan to protect the Selous-Niassa corridor is still not approved but some actions to protect this important wildlife corridor are underway;
  • The EIA for the Rufiji Hydropower project (RHPP), including an Environmental Management Plan with mitigation measures, was approved, and the project is scheduled to proceed. The project was re-designed and the reservoir will now cover 91,400 ha, an area which will be logged;
  • The State Party acknowledges that under Tanzanian Law a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is required for hydropower projects, but notes that “the resources and time required for an SEA were found to mismatch the pace that RHPP is being implemented”. An SEA is currently being prepared to assess the cumulative impacts of RHPP on the property and its landscape;
  • The State Party proposed to postpone the Reactive Monitoring mission requested by the Committee in its Decision 42 COM 7A.56 pending logistical arrangements and collection of all necessary information.

On 31 October 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party of Egypt, in response to reports that the RHPP will be constructed in cooperation with two Egyptian companies. No response was received. Therefore, on 19 December 2018, the Director of the World Heritage Centre met with the Ambassador of Egypt to UNESCO to express serious concern about the State Party of Egypt’s support to the project, recalling Article 6.3 of the Convention. A statement was released in response to frequent media inquiries (http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1920).

In November 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party in response to reports indicating that the infrastructure works related to RHPP had started. No response was received, however in January 2019 the Director of the World Heritage Centre met with the Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to UNESCO to reiterate UNESCO’s grave concern over the reported start of the RHPP.

In March 2019, the State Party submitted an EIA (dated May 2016) for the Kito-1 oil and gas exploration project proposed in the Kilombero Valley Ramsar site adjacent to the property. The studies on the hydrological regime of the Kilombero floodplain and a specific assessment of potential downstream impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are underway.

In July 2018, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN commented on the first draft EIA for RHPP. Following receipt of the revised version in December 2018, IUCN commissioned an independent technical review of the EIA (available at https://portals.iucn.org/library/node/48425), was sent to the State Party on 18 April 2019. Both assessments concluded that the EIA falls considerably short of acceptable standards.

On 21 May 2019, the State Party submitted the SEA for RHPP.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The reported reduction in poaching is noted and it is hoped that this will be confirmed by the 2018 aerial census results, once available. The State Party’s efforts to implement the EAP are commendable, however, such actions to secure the values of the property are at odds with decisions to proceed with the large scale RHPP and its consequent catastrophic impacts as noted below. While acknowledging the results of the demographic study, it should be followed by a population model to estimate the recovery of the elephant population, assuming poaching has been reduced drastically. It is of utmost concern that the signs of remaining rhino were reported in the area to be logged and inundated for the RHPP.

It is of utmost concern that the development of the RHPP is going ahead against the Committee’s repeated requests not to take a decision or start works prior to the completion of a comprehensive SEA undertaken to the highest international standards, review of the SEA by IUCN and considering alternatives. The Committee has an unequivocal 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). Furthermore, this contradicts the State Party’s earlier commitments to not undertake any development activities without the Committee’s prior approval (Decision 36 COM 8B.43). The RHPP will involve the construction of a 130 m-high dam on the Rufiji River, the creation of a 100 km-long reservoir of 914 km2, a power plant, transmission lines, workers camp and access roads inside the property. Due to late submission of the SEA, its review was not possible at the time of writing this report. However, it is critical to note that the State Party has affirmed that the project is going ahead, effectively making the SEA meaningless. Recalling Article 6.3 of the Convention, it is also very regrettable that the State Party of Egypt is supporting this project.

The independent review of the RHPP EIA concludes that it does not meet acceptable standards, that it does not provide a credible assessment of the potential impacts on the property’s OUV, and that its conclusions are untenable based on evidence provided. In addition to the EIA review, various international experts and studies have questioned the economic viability of the RHPP and have pointed to other cost-effective and sustainable alternatives for Tanzania to achieve its legitimate energy objectives.

It is of significant concern that the logging within the future reservoir area has started. Contrary to the Committee’s request to the State Party to refrain from any logging (42 COM 7A.56), satellite images between January and March 2019 reveal that at least 2,500 ha of forest have already been cleared. At its 42nd session, the Committee had noted that the planned large-scale deforestation represents a clear potential danger to the property and decided to add this issue to the justification for the continued inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Deforestation of almost 1,000 km2 within the property is likely to lead to irreversible damage to its OUV and would hence fulfill the conditions for deleting the property from the World Heritage List, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, especially when combined with the other stressors resulting from RHPP.

Under these conditions, it is of significant concern that the State Party postponed the requested Reactive Monitoring mission to the property. It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge again the State Party to immediately halt all logging operations and to invite the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission without further delay to verify the extent of the damage and assess the state of conservation of the property, with a view to reviewing whether the conditions of deleting the property from the World Heritage List are met. Given the risk of losing the property’s OUV, it is recommended that the Committee decide to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism to this property.

As requested by the Committee, the revised EIA for Kidunda Dam should be made available to review the impacts and mitigation measures with respect to the OUV. It is noted that the 2016 EIA for the Kito-1 oil and gas exploration project will be augmented with a study on the hydrological regime of the Kilombero floodplain and a specific assessment of potential downstream impacts on the OUV of the property, as requested by the Committee (42 COM 7A.56).

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7A.16
Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania) (N 199bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.5, 36 COM 8B.43, 40 COM 7, 40 COM 7A.47, and 42 COM 7A.56 adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. While noting the reported reduction in poaching in the property, reiterates its utmost concern about the State Party’s decision to develop the Rufiji Hydropower project (RHPP) within the property and recalls 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, and the State Party’s commitment as part of the boundary modification in 2012 not to undertake any development activities within the property without prior approval of the Committee;
  4. Takes note of the conclusions of the independent expert review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the RHPP that the EIA falls considerably short of acceptable standards and that it does not provide a best practice assessment of the potential impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  5. Expresses its utmost concern about reports, confirmed by satellite image analysis, that the site clearance of 91,400 ha of vegetation, including forests, within the future dam area has started, and strongly urges the State Party to immediately halt all activities that will affect the property’s OUV and will be difficult to reverse;
  6. Considers that the deforestation and other cumulative damage to such a large area within the property would likely lead to irreversible damage to its OUV and hence fulfil the conditions for deletion of the property from the World Heritage List, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also expresses its utmost concern that the State Party has started the works on the RHPP prior to the completion of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) undertaken to the highest international standards, and its review by IUCN, and without the approval of this project by the Committee in line with previous commitments made by the State Party;
  8. Also strongly urges the State Party to invite the requested joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property without further delay to review the status of the RHPP, to verify the extent of the damage already incurred, and to assess the state of conservation of the property;
  9. Decides therefore to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism to the property;
  10. Referring to the Preamble of the World Heritage Convention, which considers that “deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world”, and to Article 6.3 of the Convention, urges all States Parties that support development projects related to World Heritage sites to observe best environmental practice and to include the Environmental Impact Assessment;
  11. Notes with concern the submission of the updated hydrology report for the Kidunda Dam, which indicates possible inundation of the property, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to submit as soon as possible to the World Heritage Centre the revised EIA for the project;
  12. Notes that the 2016 EIA for the Kito-1 oil and gas exploration project proposed within the Kilombero Valley Ramsar site adjacent to the property will be augmented with the requested study on the hydrological regime of the Kilombero floodplain and a specific assessment of potential downstream impacts on the OUV of the property;
  13. Requests the State Party to submit the results of the 2018 aerial wildlife survey as soon as possible, and to develop a population model to estimate the recovery of the elephant population, assuming poaching has been reduced drastically;
  14. Finally 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;
  15. Also decides to retain Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
43 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

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:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 43 COM 7A.41)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision43 COM 7A.42)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 43 COM 7A.45)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 43 COM 7A.48)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.5)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.8)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.9)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.10)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.11)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 43 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.4)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.1)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 43 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 43 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 43 COM 7A.22)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 43 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 43 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 43 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 43 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 43 COM 7A.26)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 43 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 43 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 43 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 43 COM 7A.54)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 43 COM 7A.55)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 43 COM 7A.43)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 43 COM 7A.14)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 43 COM 7A.30)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 43 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 43 COM 7A.50)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 43 COM 7A.51)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.15)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 43 COM 7A.46)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 43 COM 7A.2)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 43 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 43 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 43 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 43 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 43 COM 7A.35)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 43 COM 7A.36)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 43 COM 7A.56)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 43 COM 7A.47)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.16)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.3)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 43 COM 7A.44)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 43 COM 7A.52)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 43 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 43 COM 7A.39)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 43 COM 7A.40)
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7A.16

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.5, 36 COM 8B.43, 40 COM 7, 40 COM 7A.47, and 42 COM 7A.56 adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. While noting the reported reduction in poaching in the property, reiterates its utmost concern about the State Party’s decision to develop the Rufiji Hydropower project (RHPP) within the property and recalls 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, and the State Party’s commitment as part of the boundary modification in 2012 to not undertake any development activities within the property without prior approval of the Committee;
  4. Takes note of the conclusions of the independent expert review of the Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA) of the RHPP that the EIA falls considerably short of acceptable standards and that it does not provide a credible assessment of the potential impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  5. Expresses its utmost concern about reports, confirmed by satellite image analysis, that the logging of 91,400 ha of forests of the future dam area has started, and strongly urges the State Party to immediately halt all logging operations in the property, and all other activities related to the RHPP that will affect the property’s OUV and will be difficult to reverse, and reiterates its request to the State Party to consider alternative options to meet its power generation needs;
  6. Considers that the deforestation of such a large area within the property would likely lead to irreversible damage to its OUV and hence fulfill the conditions for deletion from the World Heritage List, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also expresses its utmost concern that the State Party has started the works on the RHPP prior to the completion of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) undertaken to the highest international standards, and its review by IUCN, and without the approval of this project by the Committee in line with previous commitments made by the State Party;
  8. Also strongly urges the State Party to invite the requested joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property without further delay to review the status of the RHPP, to verify the extent of the damage already incurred, and to assess the state of conservation of the property, with a view to reviewing whether the conditions for deleting the property from the World Heritage List are met;
  9. Decides therefore to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism to the property;
  10. Referring to the Preamble of the World Heritage Convention, which considers that “deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world”, and to Article 6.3 of the Convention, also regrets the support provided by the State Party of Egypt to the RHPP, which may cause irreversible damage to the property and its OUV, and reminds all States Parties and private investors not to support projects that may damage World Heritage properties;
  11. Notes with concern the submission of the updated hydrology report for the Kidunda Dam, which indicates possible inundation of the property, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to submit as soon as possible to the World Heritage Centre the revised EIA for the project;
  12. Notes that the 2016 EIA for the Kito-1 oil and gas exploration project proposed within the Kilombero Valley Ramsar site adjacent to the property will be augmented with the requested study on the hydrological regime of the Kilombero floodplain and a specific assessment of potential downstream impacts on the OUV of the property;
  13. Requests the State Party to submit the results of the 2018 aerial wildlife survey as soon as possible, and to develop a population model to estimate the recovery of the elephant population, assuming poaching has been reduced drastically;
  14. Finally 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;
  15. Also decides to retain Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2019
United Republic of Tanzania
Date of Inscription: 1982
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 2014-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
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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