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Simien National Park

Ethiopia
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Crop production
  • Financial resources
  • Governance
  • Human resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Land conversion
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Major linear utilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other climate change impacts
  • Other Threats:

    Declining populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and other large mammal species; Human wildlife conflicts;

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Road construction through the property
  • Power transmission line affecting exceptional natural beauty and conditions of integrity
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Agricultural encroachment at the borders of the property and crop cultivation in the property
  • Growing resource-dependent, economically poor population around the national park
  • Overgrazing by livestock
  • Human-wildlife conflict, including fatal leopard attacks, livestock predation and crop-raiding
  • Declining populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and other large mammal species
  • Poaching in remote areas, including of Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf
  • Impacts and risks associated with tourism development and visitation
  • Management suffering from scarce human and financial resources
  • Limited local participation in management and governance
  • Pending Significant Boundary Modification to recognize the substantial expansion of the national park
  • Uncommon precipitation and temperature patterns over recent years attributed to climate change
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Major declines of the Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf populations and of other large mammals
  • Agricultural encroachment at the borders of the property
  • Impacts of road construction through the property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Not yet identified
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted: USD 100,000 (2012-2015) in support of community conservation programme with co-financing from Global Environment Fund (GEF) and development of the grazing pressure reduction strategy (UNESCO-Spain-Funds-in Trust and UNESCO-Netherlands-Funds-in-Trust)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 11 (from 1978-2019)
Total amount approved : 397,396 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 7 January 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/9/documents/, providing the following information:

  • The 2020-2029 General Management Plan (GMP) is now in its final draft form and will consider the newly included wildlife habitats land of the Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP);
  • The implementation of the Grazing Pressure Reduction Strategy is continuing, with 73% of SMNP now free from livestock grazing;
  • A Tourism Development Plan has been drafted to address the increasing visitor numbers;
  • A draft monitoring protocol for Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada has been developed and is being reviewed by stakeholders;
  • Support is being provided to the relocated Gich community following International Finance Cooperation (IFC) best practices, and activities to improve community livelihoods and community tourism are ongoing through the support of the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC);
  • A proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification affecting the whole of SMNP, including a new buffer zone, is being prepared in consultation with relevant stakeholders and will be submitted by September 2020;
  • The construction of the alternative road, which will be mostly located outside the property and SMNP, is ongoing;
  • The realignment of the power transmission line is subject to further impact assessments once the road construction has been completed;
  • Construction of four new lodges are being considered along the border of SMNP but has not begun. So far only the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for two of these lodges have been submitted to the World Heritage Centre. Concerning the two lodges already operating inside the property (Limalimo and Simien lodges), the State Party indicates having requested the lodge owners to revise their EIAs to be in conformity with the IUCN guidelines.

On 11 April 2019, the State Party sent a letter to the World Heritage Centre, requesting emergency support to stop fires that had been raging the property since 28 March 2019. The International Emergency Assistance Request was approved on 23 April 2019. On 31 October 2019, the State Party reported that the fires had a very high impact on the property’s ericaceous forest, and that 60,000 native Erica trees had been planted as a restoration effort. The Emergency International Assistance will also support the preparation of a fire management strategy.

On 30 March 2020, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party, requesting more information regarding the constructions of new lodges inside the property, and requesting that an EIA following IUCN Guidelines be undertaken for all the new lodges and be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The State Party has continued to make positive progress in addressing past Committee requests with support from international partners including Austrian and German Cooperation. The continued engagement with local communities and decline in the area of the property subject to livestock grazing are welcomed. However, no new information is provided on the updated grazing strategy that was previously reported by the State Party.

The revised GMP is well structured, containing six clear objectives concerning the protection of SMNP including criterion (x) values. Noting however that the property is also inscribed on the World Heritage List under criterion (vii), the draft GMP does not currently address how the aesthetic values of the property will be managed. This will become particularly important as the State Party prepares a proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification to encompass all of SMNP and with plans to expand tourism. Infrastructural developments may be visible over long distances, and the proposed zonation scheme for SMNP needs to take such visual impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property into consideration.

The Tourism Development Plan is an encouraging starting point for addressing the SMNP’s needs in the face of increasing visitor numbers. It identifies areas that require further strengthening and possible next steps but it does not go to the extent of putting forward a management strategy, as had been requested by the Committee. One of the next actions should therefore be to establish a Tourism Management Plan that strategically assesses how the impacts from the proposed tourism development will be monitored and managed. In identifying potential locations for new lodge developments, safeguarding the property’s OUV must be at the core of decision-making.

The development and submission of a draft monitoring protocol for key species in SMNP are welcomed. It is generally well designed but it should also consider how the State Party will ensure quality control during its implementation.

EIAs for the two existing lodges (Limalimo and Simien) and for two out of the four newly proposed lodges (Angobaras and Simien Mountains) have been submitted. The remaining two EIAs should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN. It is of utmost concern that the EIAs for Angobaras and Simien Mountains lodges indicate that both are proposed inside SMNP, contrary to the Committee’s previous decisions. Furthermore, it is concerning that the OUV of the property has not been fully considered in site selection or project design. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its past emphases that the State Party focus on improving existing infrastructure and developing any new infrastructure restricted to areas outside of SMNP.

The further delay on the already overdue road construction as an alternative to the existing road is noted. The State Party should be reminded to urgently submit the EIA for the part of the new road crossing SMNP, which has been requested since 2017 (Decisions 41 COM 7A.13 and 42 COM 7B.91). An EIA for the realignment of the power transmission line should also be submitted before any activities begin, ensuring that this considers the visual and ecological impacts of the property and SMNP.

The interim report on the International Assistance describes the impact of the fires as very high. Unfortunately, there is no reference to this in the State Party’s report. The State Party should be requested to provide further information on the area affected and impact on the OUV, to monitor the recovery of vegetation, and to submit the fire management strategy as soon as it is available.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.81
Simien National Park (Ethiopia) (N 9)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7A.13 and 42 COM 7B.91, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the progress made by the State Party in responding to past Committee decisions and the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission recommendations, including the submission of a draft 2020-2029 General Management Plan (GMP) for the enlarged Simien Mountains National Park, a draft monitoring protocol for the populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada, and a draft Tourism Development Plan, and requests the State Party to:
    1. Ensure that the GMP fully considers the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property under both criteria (vii) and (x) as the primary objective of management for the Simien Mountains National Park and its buffer zone,
    2. Integrate measures to ensure quality control in the implementaion of the draft species monitoring protocol,
    3. Develop a Tourism Management Plan to guide the monitoring and management of proposed tourism developments, and impacts from increased visitors;
  4. Expresses its utmost concern that some of the new lodges are proposed inside the Simien Mountains National Park and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that all new lodge developments are located outside the boundary of Simien Mountains National Park;
  5. Considers that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) of the proposed lodges do not sufficiently consider the OUV of the property in their respective site selection or project design, and therefore urges the State Party not to permit these developments to proceed in their current locations and also requests the State Party to submit EIAs for all proposed lodges, ensuring they are in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and in particular consider their visual impact on the property;
  6. Notes with concern the high impacts of the 2019 fires on the OUV of the property and further requests the State Party to provide further information on the affected area and impact on the OUV, to monitor the recovery of vegetation, and to submit the fire management strategy to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available;
  7. Also welcomes the continued implementation of the Grazing Pressure Reduction Strategy that has resulted in a decline in area grazed by livestock, and requests furthermore the State Party to ensure that the previously reported revised grazing strategy is aligned with the GMP and to submit this to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  8. Further welcomes the ongoing financial and technical support from the Austrian and German Governments for the management of the property, community tourism and alternative livelihoods;
  9. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to continue its ongoing support to the livelihoods and well-being of the relocated Gich community while ensuring that the highest standards are applied, especially in support of vulnerable households and individuals;
  10. Appreciates the State Party’s confirmation of its intention to submit a proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification for the entire Simien Mountains National Park, and further reiterates its request to the State Party to simultaneously formalize the buffer zone and harmonize the currently differing names of the Simien Mountains National Park and the property, and also encourages the State Party to request technical advice from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN as needed;
  11. Notes the further delay in completing the alternative road aiming at reducing disturbance of the existing main road in important afro-alpine habitats, and urges again the State Party to complete this overdue project, and to submit the EIA for the part of the new road crossing the Simien Mountains National Park to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN as soon as possible;
  12. Also appreciates that the re-alignment of the power transmission line, which currently affects the property’s exceptional natural beauty and conditions of integrity, will be subject to an EIA, and requests moreover the State Party to assess the visual and ecological impacts on the property and the Simien Mountains National Park, and to submit the EIA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before any activities begin;
  13. Finally 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.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.82

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7A.13 and 42 COM 7B.91, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the progress made by the State Party in responding to past Committee decisions and the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission recommendations, including the submission of a draft 2020-2029 General Management Plan (GMP) for the enlarged Simien Mountains National Park, a draft monitoring protocol for the populations of Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and gelada, and a draft Tourism Development Plan, and requests the State Party to:
    1. Ensure that the GMP fully considers the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property under both criteria (vii) and (x) as the primary objective of management for the Simien Mountains National Park and its buffer zone,
    2. Integrate measures to ensure quality control in the implementaion of the draft species monitoring protocol,
    3. Develop a Tourism Management Plan to guide the monitoring and management of proposed tourism developments, and impacts from increased visitors;
  4. Expresses its utmost concern that some of the new lodges are proposed inside the Simien Mountains National Park and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that all new lodge developments are located outside the boundary of Simien Mountains National Park;
  5. Considers that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) of the proposed lodges do not sufficiently consider the OUV of the property in their respective site selection or project design, and therefore urges the State Party not to permit these developments to proceed in their current locations and also requests the State Party to submit EIAs for all proposed lodges, ensuring they are in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and in particular consider their visual impact on the property;
  6. Notes with concern the high impacts of the 2019 fires on the OUV of the property and further requests the State Party to provide further information on the affected area and impact on the OUV, to monitor the recovery of vegetation, and to submit the fire management strategy to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it is available;
  7. Also welcomes the continued implementation of the Grazing Pressure Reduction Strategy that has resulted in a decline in area grazed by livestock, and requests furthermore the State Party to ensure that the previously reported revised grazing strategy is aligned with the GMP and to submit this to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  8. Further welcomes the ongoing financial and technical support from the Austrian and German Governments for the management of the property, community tourism and alternative livelihoods;
  9. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to continue its ongoing support to the livelihoods and well-being of the relocated Gich community while ensuring that the highest standards are applied, especially in support of vulnerable households and individuals;
  10. Appreciates the State Party’s confirmation of its intention to submit a proposal for a Significant Boundary Modification for the entire Simien Mountains National Park, and further reiterates its request to the State Party to simultaneously formalize the buffer zone and harmonize the currently differing names of the Simien Mountains National Park and the property, and also encourages the State Party to request technical advice from the World Heritage Centre and IUCN as needed;
  11. Notes the further delay in completing the alternative road aiming at reducing disturbance of the existing main road in important afro-alpine habitats, and urges again the State Party to complete this overdue project, and to submit the EIA for the part of the new road crossing the Simien Mountains National Park to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN as soon as possible;
  12. Also appreciates that the re-alignment of the power transmission line, which currently affects the property’s exceptional natural beauty and conditions of integrity, will be subject to an EIA, and requests moreover the State Party to assess the visual and ecological impacts on the property and the Simien Mountains National Park, and to submit the EIA to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before any activities begin;
  13. Finally 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 in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Ethiopia
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1996-2017
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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