1.         Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Niger) (N 573)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1991

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1992-present

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

The region having recently suffered from military conflict and civil disturbance, the Government of Niger requested the Director-General of UNESCO to launch an appeal for the protection of the site

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

In progress

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/325  

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/573/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-2019)
Total amount approved: USD 202,316
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/573/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

May 2005 and February 2015: IUCN Reactive Monitoring missions 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/573/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 6 April 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/573/documents/ containing the following information:

On 6 April 2020, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre for examination by IUCN the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) for the Kafra Block (2017), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) International (Niger) Limited (2015), and GoviEx Niger Holdings Limited (2015) oil exploration projects.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party continues its important efforts to operationalize the management body for the property and to strengthen collaboration with local authorities through the involvement of valley chiefs with the aim of improving monitoring and raising community awareness of the protection of the property.

However, it is worrying that poaching, gold mining and illegal logging continue to threaten the property. Although regular patrols have been undertaken, no detailed information on patrolling efforts, area covered, extent and location of these pressures has been provided despite the Committee's request.

Furthermore, the proliferation of Prosopis juliflora remains a major preoccupation and the development of a strategy for IAS in consultation with IUCN should be urgently initiated to ensure that it is included in the Development and Management Plan (DMP) of the property being elaborated.

The elaboration process by the State Party of the DMP, the emergency monitoring plan and the finalization of the DSOCR are noted and it is recommended that the Committee should request the State Party to urgently finalize the various management documents and the DSOCR in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN. In this regard, the World Heritage Centre, through financing from the Government of Norway, will contribute to the efforts of the State Party with a view to operationalizing the DMP and finalizing the DSOCR.

Re-confirmation of the presence of some iconic antelope species is noted, however their conservation status remains unknown. The lack of sightings of several iconic species that are characteristic of the OUV, in particular the addax which appears to be locally extinct in the property, remains of great concern. Noting that some species remain Critically Endangered, for example the dama gazelle for which the property contains one of the four remaining populations, the State Party should be encouraged to develop a monitoring and recovery plan for the iconic antelope species in consultation with the IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group.

The confirmation that no exploration or mining permits located within or in the immediate vicinity of the property have been granted and that the uranium, oil and gold exploration and exploitation permits are located between 100 and 400 km from the property has been noted. However, although ESIAs have been submitted for three proposed projects, the current status of these projects is unclear and no information has been provided regarding the existing exploration and exploitation permits, in accordance with the Committee’s previous requests. It is recommended that the Committee should request the State Party to provide a clear overview of all the exploration and exploitation permits in and around the property, including location maps; to carry out an assessment of the individual and cumulative impacts of these projects on the OUV of the property; and to ensure that the ESIAs of the exploitation projects be carried out in accordance with the IUCN Advice Note and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for examination, before any approval. Consideration should be given to potential wider indirect and cumulative impacts on the OUV of the property, e.g. habitat fragmentation due to the ecological link between the property and permit areas, the risk of increased poaching with the influx of personnel and the creation of access roads.

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

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7A.49

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.14, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Takes note of the efforts made by the State Pary to implement corrective measures but considers that additional progress is needed in view of the extent of the threats to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  4. Notes with satisfaction the launch of the process to establish a Development and Management Plan (DMP), an emergency monitoring plan, and an Invasive Alien Species (IAS) strategy in consultation with IUCN and requests the State Party to finalize the various management documents and implement them urgently;
  5. Reiterates its request that the State Party develop a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and again encourages the State Party to seek advice from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN in this regard;
  6. Thanks the donors who continue to support the conservation of the property, notably the Government of Norway through its contribution to the World Heritage Fund;
  7. Reiterates its deepest concern that some of the characteristic species of the OUV are reported to be threatened, endangered or locally extinct, in particular the addax, and urges the State Party to develop a monitoring and recovery plan for the iconic antelope species in consultation with the Antelope Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC);
  8. Notes the confirmation that no exploration or mining permits are located within or in the immediate vicinity of the property, and that permits granted for uranium, oil and gold are located between 100 and 400 km from the property and are subject to regulatory procedures, however, also recalling its concern about the increase in uranium, oil and gold exploration and mining permits in the vicinity of the property, as well as the continuation of illegal gold mining, also requests the State Party to:
    1. Provide a clear overview of the concessions around the property (location maps, concessions, permit details),
    2. Ensure that the impacts of development projects on the OUV of the property are assessed through Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) in accordance with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note: Environmental Assessment,
    3. Submit these ESIAs to the World Heritage Centre for examination by IUCN before any approval of decision,
    4. Not grant any new oil and mining exploration or exploitation permits in the vicinity of the property without a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the impacts on the OUV of the property, including the cumulative effects of such projects, in accordance with the IUCN Advice Note;
  9. Regrets once again that the report submitted by the State Party does not provide detailed information on poaching, gold mining and logging in and around the property, and on actions implemented to counter these threats, and also reiterates its request that the State Party submit maps showing the location of the main threats identified, together with indications of their severity and extent;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session;
  11. Decides to retain Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Niger) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 44 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/21/44.COM/7A, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: