Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

Zambia, Zimbabwe
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Air pollution
  • Drought
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Solid waste
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water (extraction)
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Air pollution
  • Drought
  • Housing (uncontrolled urban development driven by population increase)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Invasive/alien species
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Solid waste
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water extraction (related to existing hydropower production)
  • Water infrastructure (project to construct a dam downstream of the property)
  • Water infrastructure (Project to construct a dam across the gorge) (issue resolved)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2019

Total amount granted: USD 50,000 in 2015 through the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism programme (Flanders Funds-in-Trust)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 5 (from 2001-2007)
Total amount approved : 93,485 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

November 2006: joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

The States Parties submitted the state of conservation report on 30 November 2018, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/509/documents/, which includes an Action Plan for joint activities 2019-2020, and reports the following:

  • The draft Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme on the Zambezi River is being reviewed against the IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  • To date, there has been no on-ground development of the proposed Ferris wheel on Eastern Cataract, or any other tourism infrastructure, and the World Heritage Committee will be kept informed;
  • A task force, headed by the Joint Site Management Committee, has been created to respond to the Committee’s request to expedite the finalization of the sustainable financing business plan;
  • The States Parties take note of the Committee’s request to use hydrological data to inform management. The Zambezi River water flow continues to be closely monitored;
  • Efforts to control the invasive alien species, Lantana camara and water hyacinth, are continuing;
  • Resource protection and management, research and monitoring programmes have been undertaken such as infrastructure maintenance, fire control, revegetation, bird surveys, archaeological and geological studies, mitigation of human-wildlife conflict, wildlife management, surveillance and anti-poaching patrols;
  • Nine solar powered boreholes have been installed in the southern section of the Zambezi National Park to provide water and thus attract wildlife for tourism;
  • Visitor statistics collected show a sustained growth in visitor numbers;
  • Extensive staff capacity training, public awareness and education activities have been undertaken;
  • Five development projects and activities are being proposed within the property, one in the buffer zone and five in the municipal areas.

On 7 March 2019, the States Parties submitted supplementary documents including the Sustainable Financing and Business Plan, the Sustainable Tourism Strategy, survey of riverbank erosion, assessment of an abseiling platform, funding proposal for a Strategic Environmental Assessment and a map indicating the location of some of the proposed developments.

The States Parties also re-submitted the boundary clarification and retrospective inventory of the property to replace the 2016 submission. The World Heritage Centre had not yet presented the document to the Committee due to pending clarifications related to proposed changes in the boundary area compared to the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

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

It is positive that the States Parties continue to implement a concrete and time-bound Action Plan, which improves monitoring and informs management activities. The active management, research and education programmes are commendable and provide evidence of major investments in the conservation of the property.

However, it is regrettable that the States Parties’ report provides limited detailed information on implementation of the Committee’s past decisions, particularly concerning the exact locations and full details of all proposed tourism infrastructure development. Some proposals will likely be beneficial to meeting conservation or management objectives, such as the helipad re-location and the one-stop border post. However, proposals that could have a major negative impact on the property or are incompatible with the approved Joint Integrated Management Plan should be unequivocally abandoned from the outset, such as the planned cable car, resort and golf course by the Maramba River. Strict and clear regulations are critical to control the development pressure and mitigate any negative impacts both within the property and in its sensitive buffer zone. All proposals with potential impact on the property’s OUV should be subject to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), including a specific assessment of the impacts on OUV, in accordance with the IUCN Advice Note, and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review.

On 28 March 2019, the World Heritage Centre submitted IUCN’s analysis on the Sustainable Financing and Business Plan, the Sustainable Tourism Strategy and the other documents received on 7 March to the States Parties. These documents should be finalized as soon as possible through consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN. General guidance is available in the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Toolkit (http://whc.unesco.org/sustainabletourismtoolkit/).

The potential impacts of the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme on the Zambezi River on hydrological regimes and thus the property’s OUV remains a serious concern. Whilst the States Parties’ engagement in the development of the ESIA is noted, it is important that the finalized ESIA be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before any final decision on this project is taken, as per the Committee’s prior request (Decision 41 COM 7B.22).

The States Parties are proposing to reduce the property’s boundaries, mainly by removing the northernmost part, including the Siloka Island and its immediate waters of the Zambezi River. This would reduce the property from 6,860 ha (approved via Decision 36 COM 8E) to approximately 6,562 ha. While purporting to respond to the recommendation of the Bureau of the Committee at the time of inscription in 1989, this is a notable reduction in the area compared to how the property has been managed since inscription and is presented in the approved Management Plan for 2016-2021. The visual setting of this property is central to its OUV and any reduction to the existing boundaries could significantly weaken the property’s integrity by possibly allowing further developments in the high ecologically sensitive zone. It would also be important to understand the rationale and motivations to reduce the boundaries. Given the visual and experiential sensitivities of the property, such a change cannot be approved within the process of the boundary clarification and retrospective inventory of the property but should be considered through a request for boundary modification as per the Operational Guidelines.

In light of the ever-growing tourism development pressure in and around the property, continued ambiguity in assessing development proposals and a proposal to reduce the property’s boundaries, it is recommended that the Committee request the States Parties to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property. The mission should assess the potential threat posed to the property’s OUV by growing tourism development pressure in and around the property, review the regulations to control this pressure and make recommendations to the Committee on the proposed boundary modification.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.34
Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls (Zambia, Zimbabwe) (N 509)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the continued implementation of a concrete and time-bound Action Plan, which improves monitoring and informs about management activities and effectiveness in the property;
  4. Notes with concern the ever-growing development pressure within and around the property, and urges the States Parties to abandon the proposals, which are clearly incompatible with the conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and the approved Joint Integrated Management Plan 2016-2021, such as a cable car within the property or a tourism resort along with a golf course within the buffer zone inside the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park;
  5. Also urges the States Parties to provide information on the exact locations and full details of all developments still under consideration, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for each of these projects, including a specific assessment of the impacts on OUV in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, before taking any decision that may be difficult to reverse;
  6. Reiterates its concern about the potential impacts of the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme on the Zambezi River on the OUV of the property, and whilst welcoming the States Parties’ commitment to review its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in accordance with the IUCN Advice Note, reiterates its request to the States Parties to submit the completed ESIA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before a final decision on the project is taken;
  7. Noting that the IUCN review of the Sustainable Financing and Business Plan and the Sustainable Tourism Strategy have been sent to the States Parties, also reiterates its request to the States Parties to finalize the plan and strategy as soon as possible in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  8. Requests the States Parties to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the potential threat posed to the property’s OUV by the growing tourism development pressure in and around the property, to review the regulations to control this pressure and to make recommendations to the Committee on the proposed boundary modification;
  9. Also requests the States Parties, pending the consideration of any boundary modification recommendations stemming from the Reactive Monitoring mission, to continue to manage the property in accordance with the Statement of OUV and Joint Integrated Management Plan 2016-2021;
  10. Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.34

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.22, adopted at its 41st session (Kraków, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the continued implementation of a concrete and time-bound Action Plan, which improves monitoring and informs about management activities and effectiveness in the property;
  4. Notes with concern the ever-growing development pressure within and around the property, and urges the States Parties to abandon the proposals, which are clearly incompatible with the conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and the approved Joint Integrated Management Plan 2016-2021, such as a cable car within the property or a tourism resort along with a golf course within the buffer zone inside the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park;
  5. Also urges the States Parties to provide information on the exact locations and full details of all developments still under consideration, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for each of these projects, including a specific assessment of the impacts on OUV in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, before taking any decision that may be difficult to reverse;
  6. Reiterates its concern about the potential impacts of the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme on the Zambezi River on the OUV of the property, and whilst welcoming the States Parties’ commitment to review its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in accordance with the IUCN Advice Note, reiterates its request to the States Parties to submit the completed ESIA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before a final decision on the project is taken;
  7. Noting that the IUCN review of the Sustainable Financing and Business Plan and the Sustainable Tourism Strategy have been sent to the States Parties, also reiterates its request to the States Parties to finalize the plan and strategy as soon as possible in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  8. Requests the States Parties to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the potential threat posed to the property’s OUV by the growing tourism development pressure in and around the property, to review the regulations to control this pressure and to make recommendations to the Committee on the proposed boundary modification;
  9. Also requests the States Parties, pending the consideration of any boundary modification recommendations stemming from the Reactive Monitoring mission, to continue to manage the property in accordance with the Statement of OUV and Joint Integrated Management Plan 2016-2021;
  10. Finally requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2021.
Report year: 2019
Zambia Zimbabwe
Date of Inscription: 1989
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .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.


top