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Sukur Cultural Landscape (Nigeria) (C 938)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1999
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/938/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 47,017
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/938/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount granted: USD 22,296 in 2016 through the Hungary Funds-in-Trust for rehabilitation and conservation activities
Previous monitoring missions
May 2018: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission (in Abuja, Nigeria)
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Damage to the Hidi Palace, the Palace Square, the Black Smith Homestead, paved walkways and ritual structures by insurgents
- Civil unrest
- Illegal activities
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/938/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021
On 7 September 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, and additional updated information was provided on 16 March 2020, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/938/documents/, and reports the following:
- Conservation and restoration work has been carried out through the International Assistance of the World Heritage Fund. This has allowed the restoration of 12 buildings in the Hidi Palace and Palace Square and some sections of the stone enclosure wall around the Hidi Palace, the Initiation Room (Buk), two stone wall enclosed pit toilets in the Palace Square, the Primary Health Care Centre, as well as a block of primary school classrooms;
- Funds donated by the Lagart Trust England and Prof. Nicholas David to the Sukur community allowed for procurement of materials for the roofing of the primary school building;
- The gradual erosion of the paved walkway from the foot to the top of the hill due to weather conditions and continued usage is recognised. The community has agreed to plant trees to reduce soil erosion;
- The impact of climate change has led to changing weather patterns which has consequently affected the availability of grass for thatch. New constructions and renovations of homesteads on the hilltop are often done with corrugated zinc sheets rather than thatch. However the Hidi Palace and the Palace Square are unaffected by this;
- As to the security situation, the property itself continues to enjoy relative safety as indicated by robust economic activities. Many people have relocated to the property. Nevertheless, a significant degree of apprehension remains in the region due to sporadic attacks from Boko Haram insurgents along the access route to Sukur;
- Cooperation with Cameroon has been initiated in order to work towards an extension of the property. In December 2019, a mission conducted jointly by Cameroonian and Nigerian officials to the Mandara Hills has allowed progress to be made on a proposal for an extension of the transboundary property of Sukur Diy-Gid-Biy Cultural Landscape. Such an extension is expected to offer more integral site interpretation, enhance transboundary cooperation, and improve efforts for the maintenance of peace.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
As already observed by the 2018 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission, the security situation has considerably improved and stabilised at the property. With relative peace having returned in north-eastern Nigeria, including Sukur, a significant proportion of the community has returned to their traditional homes on the hilltop, perceived as providing increased security. This has been confirmed, not only in the report by the State Party, but also through other accounts, such as activity reports prepared in the framework of the international assistance or the project funded by Hungary. This has permitted the State Party and the local community to remain engaged in continued conservation works.
In that context, note is taken that extensive damage was incurred during the attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in December 2014, and that some buildings have now been repaired and rehabilitated, especially in the Hidi Palace, and it is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for the important efforts, not only for conservation, but also for fund mobilisation and capacity building for the site manager. As also emerged from International Assistance activity reports, it is positive that the various restoration works were carried out with a strong youth engagement component, notably at the Hidi Palace, where the youth intervened on the buildings in the Palace Square, while chiefs and community elders were responsible for the Initiation Room (Buk) and the guest buildings in the Palace, which have certain customary practices associated with their use.
The dislocation of the community during the insurgent attacks also had a highly negative impact on the wider property outside the Hidi Palace, particularly on clusters of traditional houses and traditional agricultural terraces with their associated ritual systems, all of which are attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). No information has so far been provided on how these further crucial aspects are being restored to sustain the visually dramatic terraced landscape of the Mandara Mountains.
Demographic pressure from refugees is continuing to have negative environmental impacts from bush clearing for farming, and wood harvesting for fuel. This is one of the causes of the scarcity of local materials, such as grass for local thatch roofs, with use of metal sheeting instead.
The State Party should therefore continue to take action to enhance awareness of heritage conservation by reaching out to the Sukur community and encourage them through promotion and incentives to maintain not only the traditional architecture, but also traditional agricultural practices and their associated rituals. This could build on the encouraging experience of the works on the Hidi Palace and the generally strong resilience of the community observed over the past years, but needs to be extended to cover conservation of the wider traditional agricultural landscape and the safeguarding of associated intangible cultural heritage. Coordination should be encouraged between the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and relevant departments for agriculture and living heritage.
It is recognised that securing the area continues to require important measures by the national armed forces that are deployed along the roads leading to Sukur Hill, which accounts for much of the progress observed, despite the fact that these measures have made access to the property much more difficult. However, the larger area remains exposed to the threat of further insurgent attacks, which could lead to yet further migration of the population from the lowland plains to the hilltop, exerting more pressure on the cultural landscape, already impacted by the negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change on traditional livelihoods.
It is noted that there has been dialogue with the State Party of Cameroon on the possibility of a transnational extension of the property to include the archaeological remains of Diy-Gid-Biy. It is suggested that the State Party may wish to request Upstream advice on the potential for this site to reflect the OUV of the property as a living cultural landscape.
Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.10
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.48, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
- Commends the State Party for the initiatives undertaken for the restoration and reconstruction of some of the traditional buildings in the property that were damaged by 2014 insurgents' attacks, in particular within and around the Hidi Palace;
- Notes with satisfaction the resilience of the Sukur community in the context of persisting threats in the larger area surrounding the property, and encourages the State Party and the local community to maintain their efforts for heritage conservation, in particular with regard to the mobilisation of the youth;
- Notes nevertheless that considerable further conservation work remains to be undertaken on paved paths and walls as well as on the wider property beyond the Hidi Palace, in particular on the clusters of traditional house and agricultural terraces, which were devastated by insurgents and are crucial attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property as a living cultural landscape;
- Welcomes the efforts deployed by the State Party to secure the area, ensuring increased protection to the population of Sukur, especially on the hilltop, but expresses its concern over persisting threats to security in the larger area through sporadic attacks from Boko Haram insurgents along the access route to Sukur;
- Recognising again that due to the sense of relative safety the hilltop holds, the population has resettled and increased at Sukur, but also notes with concern that the increase of demographic pressure is a factor that contributes to environmental degradation, resulting in scarcity of local building materials, and favours the inappropriate re-adaptative use of new building materials and technologies;
- Requests the State Party to take action to enhance awareness of heritage conservation by reaching out to the Sukur community to encourage them through promotion and incentives to actively conserve traditional architecture and agricultural terraced landscapes, and to safeguard associated intangible cultural heritage through coordination between the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and the relevant departments responsible for agriculture and living heritage;
- Also notes that discussions have taken place with the State Party of Cameroon on the possibility of a transboundary extension of the property to include the Diy-Gid-Biy archaeological sites, and also encourages the State Party to consider requesting Upstream advice on the potential for this extension to reflect the OUV of the property as a living cultural landscape;
- Further notes that the 2018 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission was unable to visit the property itself due to security concerns, and also requests the State Party to again invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, once the necessary security clearance can be obtained, to assess the state of conservation of the property and the efficacy of measures for both traditional buildings and traditional agricultural terraced landscapes that have been put in place to safeguard the property's OUV;
- Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 46th session.
Decision Adopted: 44 COM 8D
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/8D,
- Recalling Decision 43 COM 8D, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
- Acknowledges the excellent work accomplished by States Parties in the clarification of the boundaries of their World Heritage properties and commends them for their efforts to improve the credibility of the World Heritage List;
- Recalls that the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are not able to examine proposals for minor or significant modifications to boundaries of World Heritage properties whenever the delimitations of such properties as inscribed remain unclear;
- Takes note of the clarifications of property boundaries and areas provided by the States Parties as presented in the Annex of Document WHC/21/44.COM/8D:
- Mozambique, Island of Mozambique
- Nigeria, Sukur Cultural Landscape
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
- Australia, Purnululu National Park
- Iran (Islamic Republic of), Bisotun
- Japan, Shiretoko
EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
- Guatemala, Tikal National Park;
- Requests the World Heritage Centre to continue the identification and collection of geographic and cartographic information of World Heritage properties in nominations where the required information is not available or not adequate;
- Also requests the States Parties which have not yet answered the questions raised in the framework of the Retrospective Inventory and the Periodic Reporting, to provide all clarifications and documentation as soon as possible, and by 1 December 2021, for their subsequent examination, if the technical requirements are met, by the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee.