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Lake Malawi National Park

Malawi
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive / alien freshwater species
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Oil and gas
  • Surface water pollution
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive / alien freshwater species
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Surface water pollution  
  • Oil and gas exploration/exploitation
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted: USD 50,000 in 2015 through the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism programme (Flanders Funds-in-Trust); USD 45,000 in 2019 through the UNESCO-Netherlands Funds- in-Trust; USD 300,000 in 2020-2021 through UNESCO/Government of Norway cooperation

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 7 (from 1986-2017)
Total amount approved : 147,423 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

March/April 2014: joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 28 January 2020, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/289/documents/ and reporting as follows:

  • Species monitoring is being undertaken;
  • The Management Plan (MP) for the property and a fish monitoring protocol have been finalized;
  • Marine and terrestrial patrols have been enhanced and an African Development Bank project will focus on boundary demarcation, patrol boat acquisition, developing sustainable livelihood strategies, and undertaking an assessment of new tourism facilities at Cape Maclear;
  • Cooperation between Park authorities and various stakeholders is taking place to enhance the monitoring of the property. Currently, 25% of the revenue from the Park is allocated to the local communities;
  • Pressure for farming land and fishing, with the current community fishing grounds extending up to the property boundaries, means the creation of a buffer zone for the property is very challenging;
  • Human population growth in the enclave villages of the property continues to increase. Boundary inspections and terrestrial patrols are being enhanced to avoid encroachment of the areas around these villages;
  • The overhead power line referred to in the previous State Party report has been confirmed as pre-existing infrastructure from the 1990s;
  • Oil exploration will be carried out in blocks 2 and 3 owned by Hamra Oil Holdings (previously held by Surestream). Block 4, overlapping with the property and owned by RAKGas, is reported to have been cancelled;
  • The previously reported challenges continue, including tourism development along the lakeshores, illegal use of natural resources (poaching, livestock grazing, timber and firewood collection), commercial and over-fishing, aquarium fish trade, waste management, and siltation caused by land degradation likely to adversely impact the endemic cichlids.

An IUCN led workshop on prioritizing conservation action for freshwater biodiversity in the Lake Malawi catchment, conducted in collaboration with various Ministries of Malawi, has led to the identification of 18 new Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in and surrounding the property.

A UNESCO/Netherlands Fund-in-Trust project has supported the implementation of the MP. In September 2020, a socio-economic needs assessment and consultations were conducted with the enclave and surrounding communities to delineate the property boundaries. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, key activities such as the mapping and boundary demarcation were postponed to March 2021. Additional Norwegian funding will support sustainable local fisheries.

On 14 April 2020, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party requesting more information on the above-mentioned oil exploration in block 4. No response was received at the time of writing this report.

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

The enhanced patrol efforts in and around the property are appreciated but resource limitations continue to compromise overall management effectiveness. No information is provided on how management challenges are being addressed. The unsustainable fishing methods, illegal resource use, land degradation and increasing tourism development along the lakeshores require urgent intervention given their likely impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Recalling that the 2014 mission considered the development of a major hotel and tourist resort proposed for the western shores of the Cape Maclear peninsula to likely impact the property’s OUV, further details should be provided on the new tourism facilities referenced in the report, and the State Party should ensure an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is undertaken and submitted to the World Heritage Centre before any decisions are taken.

Whilst taking note of the provided information on the cancellation of the oil exploration block 4, this needs to be confirmed as the project is still mentioned on the website of RAKGas. The continuation of oil exploration in blocks 2 and 3, owned by Hamra Oil and covering a large part of the lake, is highly concerning for the protection of the OUV as any accidental spills would pose a potentially severe risk to the entire lake ecosystem. It is crucial that a new EIA is developed in accordance with the highest international standards and in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, before an exploratory drilling permit is granted.

While the State Party notes that species monitoring is being undertaken, no data of recent monitoring activities has been submitted as requested by the Committee. No clarity has been provided on what is being monitored, how frequently, and what the current species’ population status and trends are.

The finalization of the MP and the fish monitoring protocol is welcomed but their effective implementation is now key to assuring the protection of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the final documents to the World Heritage Centre and ensure the necessary funding is secured for its implementation.

It is regrettable that no progress has been made on potential buffer zones around the property. The clarification given, that the community fishing grounds extend up to the property boundaries, reinforces the need for a buffer zone. The contiguity of the freshwater ecosystem including the fish species specified in the Statement of OUV, means that the protection of areas inside the property boundaries alone is insufficient to ensure the protection of the OUV. In addition, it would be important to move to more sustainable fishing practices across the entire lake. Fish stocks are being depleted by industrial fishing activities using trawlers and by the use of illegal equipment in artisanal fishing activities, including the large-scale use of mosquito nets. The financial assistance to support sustainable fisheries through the UNESCO/Government of Norway project is aimed at addressing these threats in the property.

The identification of KBAs in and around the lake provides valuable information towards addressing past Committee decisions to incorporate important conservation areas into an extended transnational serial property, in consultation with the States Parties of Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania. Taking note of many threats facing the property, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its state of conservation, the status of oil exploration in Lake Malawi as well as the impact of unsustainable fishing practices across the entire lake on the OUV of the property and to review the possibility of a transboundary extension.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.82
Lake Malawi National Park (Malawi) (N 289)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7B.92 and 42 COM 7B.93 adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions, respectively,
  3. Welcomes the finalization of the Management Plan and development of a fish monitoring protocol as well as the enhanced patrol efforts in and around the property;
  4. Notes with concern however, that the threats facing the property are continuing and requests the State Party to secure and allocate additional funds to ensure the full implementation of the Management Plan and provide detailed information on management activities;
  5. Takes note of the information provided on the cancellation of oil exploration block 4 overlapping with the property, and also requests the State Party to confirm that no further oil exploration activities will be permitted in this block;
  6. Expresses its utmost concern for the continuation of oil exploration activities in blocks 2 and 3 covering a large part of Lake Malawi, which pose a potentially severe risk to the lake ecosystem and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and further requests the State Party to provide more details on the status of these exploration activities and to ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), developed in accordance with the highest international standards and in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, is submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before exploratory drilling is permitted;
  7. Requests furthermore the State Party to provide further details of the proposed new tourism facilities at Cape Maclear, and ensure an EIA is conducted in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before any decision is taken;
  8. Regrets that no monitoring data has been submitted to determine the state of conservation of key species and reiterates its request to the State Party to provide up-to-date and scientifically verifiable monitoring data;
  9. Also expresses its concern on the potential impacts by industrial and illegal artisanal fishing methods on fish stocks in the lake and on the OUV of the property and notes the importance of moving towards more sustainable fishing practices in the entire lake to ensure the long-term protection of the OUV;
  10. Thanks the African Development Bank and the governments of the Netherlands and Norway for their financial support to the property;
  11. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to examine, in consultation with the States Parties of Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania, the feasibility of establishing a buffer zone and extending the boundaries of the property to strengthen its integrity, which also takes into consideration the new Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) designations;
  12. Requests moreover the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its state of conservation in relation to the fisheries and tourism management, law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, oil exploration and to explore the possibility of including the new KBAs as an extension to the property;
  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 38 COM 7B.92 and 42 COM 7B.93 adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions, respectively,
  3. Welcomes the finalization of the Management Plan and development of a fish monitoring protocol as well as the enhanced patrol efforts in and around the property.;
  4. Notes with concern however, that the threats facing the property are continuing and requests the State Party to secure and allocate additional funds to ensure the full implementation of the Management Plan and provide detailed information on management activities;
  5. Takes note of the information provided on the cancellation of oil exploration block 4 overlapping with the property, and also requests the State Party to confirm that no further oil exploration activities will be permitted in this block;
  6. Expresses its utmost concern for the continuation of oil exploration activities in blocks 2 and 3 covering a large part of Lake Malawi, which pose a potentially severe risk to the lake ecosystem and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and further requests the State Party to provide more details on the status of these exploration activities and to ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), developed in accordance with the highest international standards and in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, is submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before exploratory drilling is permitted;
  7. Requests furthermore the State Party to provide further details of the proposed new tourism facilities at Cape Maclear, and ensure an EIA is conducted in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before any decision is taken;
  8. Regrets that no monitoring data has been submitted to determine the state of conservation of key species and reiterates its request to the State Party to provide up-to-date and scientifically verifiable monitoring data;
  9. Also expresses its concern on the potential impacts by industrial and illegal artisanal fishing methods on fish stocks in the lake and on the OUV of the property and notes the importance of moving towards more sustainable fishing practices in the entire lake to ensure the long-term protection of the OUV;
  10. Thanks the African Development Bank and the governments of the Netherlands and Norway for their financial support to the property;
  11. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to examine, in consultation with the States Parties of Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania, the feasibility of establishing a buffer zone and extending the boundaries of the property to strengthen its integrity, which also takes into consideration the new Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) designations;
  12. Requests moreover the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its state of conservation in relation to the fisheries and tourism management, law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, oil exploration and to explore the possibility of including the new KBAs as an extension to the property;
  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
Malawi
Date of Inscription: 1984
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .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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