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Rwenzori Mountains National Park

Uganda
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Fire (widlfires)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Other climate change impacts
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Mining (Kilembe mine)
  • Staffing and budgetary deficiencies (issue resolved)
  • Degradation of buffer zone (issue resolved)
  • Climate change
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Impacts of tourism (cable car)
  • Fires
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 5 (from 1995-2020)
Total amount approved : 191,739 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 2 October 2019, the State Party submitted the state of conservation report. A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission subsequently visited the property from 7 to 19 December 2019. Both reports are available at  https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/684/documents/. In its report, the State Party informs the following:

  • Through the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, quarterly meetings between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and eight coordinated boundary patrols were undertaken to enforce protection of the property and the adjacent Virunga National Park in DRC;
  • There has not been any mining activity within the property for 50 years. The March/April 2019 water quality tests on five rivers revealed no contamination from the old Kilembe mines inside or outside of the property. However, a high level of turbidity has been recorded outside of the property due to agricultural activities;
  • The implementation of the General Management Plan (2016-2026) (GMP) is ongoing, including activities to engage local communities in the conservation of the property and increasing patrol efforts. Payment for Water Services (PWS) scheme, climate change mitigation measures and activities to conserve the water catchment have been developed in collaboration with WWF and other partners;
  • Tourism infrastructures have been improved, such as opening of new trails and construction of board walks to protect vegetation, eco-san toilets as well as Margherita monument at Margherita Peak. Tourist numbers have increased from 3,632 in 2017 to 4,839 in 2018;
  • The cable car project is not yet implemented. Funding for the feasibility study is not yet secured, however a pre-feasibility study was completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 15 October 2019;
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was undertaken for the Sindila and Nyamwamba Hydropower projects in the vicinity of the property. The identified mitigation measures in place are monitored in order to avoid any negative impact on the ecosystem;
  • The Final Elephant Census Report dated April 2020, submitted to the World Heritage Centre on 4 May 2020, indicate that only 13 elephants remain in the property. Funds for the planned 2019/2020 chimpanzee census are available.

On 8 June 2020, the State Party submitted an Emergency Assistance request to reconstruct infrastructures that were extensively damaged inside the property following floods and landslides due to torrential rainfall in May 2020.

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

The December 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission noted with appreciation the progress made in implementing the 2016-2026 GMP. The mission concluded that the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been maintained but noted that not all the attributes that underpin the OUV have been fully integrated into the GMP. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to revise the GMP to fully address the OUV of the property.

The continued closure of the Kilembe mine is appreciated but, noting with concern its potential impact on the OUV of the property if it is re-opened, the State Party should ensure that any decision on a possible reopening is preceded by an EIA  conducted in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN. While the State Party has conducted surface water quality monitoring and found no contamination, the mission recommended that samples be taken also from groundwater, which is the source of domestic water supply in Uganda.

It is appreciated that the State Party submitted the prefeasibility report of the cable car project proposed inside the property. However, the mission considered that such a large-scale project would impact both the scenic value of the property as well as its fragile ecosystems and biodiversity, and hence the project would seriously affect the OUV of the property. A decision to proceed with the project would constitute an ascertained danger, and a case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to abandon this project. Alternative sustainable tourism options should be considered to promote the positive protection and management of the OUV of the property that is not only focused on mass tourism.

The mission noted the increasing number of hydropower projects in the vicinity of the property, which individually may have limited impacts However, in the absence of an OUV-specific assessment in the EIAs and considering the possible combined effects of numerous infrastructures, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Rwenzori catchment, which would include an assessment of the indirect and cumulative impacts on the OUV arising from the existing and planned small scale run-of-river hydropower infrastructures.

The results of the recent elephant survey raise alarming questions on the viability of the population, which is a key attribute of the OUV. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to urgently assess the viability of the remaining elephant population within the property, which is a key attribute of the OUV, and develop an action plan for its conservation, which includes re-establishing the wildlife corridors between the property and the neighbouring National Parks in Uganda and the DRC.

Furthermore, a wildlife monitoring plan is needed to ensure the regular monitoring of key wildlife species as recognised in the Statement of OUV for the property, which extend beyond elephant and chimpanzee. Such a plan should follow standardized census methodologies that are repeatable to allow the monitoring of population trends.

The State Party’s intention to reconstruct the infrastructures that were damaged by a natural disaster in an environmentally sensitive manner in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN is appreciated. The impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property should be monitored closely and the development of a disaster risk management plan and climate change adaptation plan under the Emergency Assistance fund should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre once it is available.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.85
Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda) (N 684)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.95, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama,2018),
  3. Notes with satisfaction the conclusion of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission that the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been maintained;
  4. Notes however with concern the assessment of the Reactive Monitoring mission that the proposed cable car project would impact both the scenic value of the property, as well as its fragile ecosystems and biodiversity, and if approved, would constitute a clear case of ascertained danger to the OUV, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and therefore, urges the State Party not to further pursue this project;
  5. Expresses concern about the results of the 2019 elephant census raising questions on the viability of the population and also urges the State Party to assess the viability of the remaining elephant population within the property and to develop an action plan for its conservation, which includes re-establishing the wildlife corridors between the property and the neighbouring National Parks in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  6. Notes the increasing number of hydropower projects in the vicinity of the property and requests the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Rwenzori water catchment, including the property, to assess the indirect and cumulative impacts on the OUV arising from the existing and planned small scale run-of-river hydropower infrastructures and to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for any future small scale hydropower development proposed in the catchment of the property, fully assess the potential impacts in relation to the OUV in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  7. Also requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre about any plans to reopen the Kilembe mine, and that a detailed EIA, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, be carried out and submitted to the World Heritage Centre before taking any decision that would be difficult to reverse;
  8. Further requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2019 mission, in particular to:
    1. Revise the Tourism Strategy for the property to ensure that it fully considers the protection of its OUV and prioritize low impact tourism activities that utilize existing infrastructures and facilities,
    2. Revise the General Management Plan to fully address the OUV of the property, and ensure coordination with other strategies and studies, including the requested tourism strategy and SEA,
    3. Develop and implement a wildlife monitoring plan to ensure the regular monitoring of key wildlife species as recognized in the Statement of OUV for the property. Such a plan should follow standardized census methodologies that is repeatable to allow the monitoring of population trends;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to monitor the impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property and submit a disaster risk management plan and climate change adaptation plan to the World Heritage Centre once it is available;
  10. Requests moreover 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.85

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.95, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama,2018),
  3. Notes with satisfaction the conclusion of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission that the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been maintained;
  4. Notes however with concern the assessment of the Reactive Monitoring mission that the proposed cable car project would impact both the scenic value of the property, as well as its fragile ecosystems and biodiversity, and if approved, would constitute a clear case of ascertained danger to the OUV, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and therefore, urges the State Party not to further pursue this project;
  5. Expresses concern about the results of the 2019 elephant census raising questions on the viability of the population and also urges the State Party to assess the viability of the remaining elephant population within the property and to develop an action plan for its conservation, which includes re-establishing the wildlife corridors between the property and the neighbouring National Parks in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  6. Notes the increasing number of hydropower projects in the vicinity of the property and requests the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Rwenzori water catchment, including the property, to assess the indirect and cumulative impacts on the OUV arising from the existing and planned small scale run-of-river hydropower infrastructures and to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for any future small scale hydropower development proposed in the catchment of the property, fully assess the potential impacts in relation to the OUV in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  7. Also requests the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre about any plans to reopen the Kilembe mine, and that a detailed EIA, in line with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, be carried out and submitted to the World Heritage Centre before taking any decision that would be difficult to reverse;
  8. Further requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2019 mission, in particular to:
    1. Revise the Tourism Strategy for the property to ensure that it fully considers the protection of its OUV and prioritize low impact tourism activities that utilize existing infrastructures and facilities,
    2. Revise the General Management Plan to fully address the OUV of the property, and ensure coordination with other strategies and studies, including the requested tourism strategy and SEA,
    3. Develop and implement a wildlife monitoring plan to ensure the regular monitoring of key wildlife species as recognized in the Statement of OUV for the property. Such a plan should follow standardized census methodologies that is repeatable to allow the monitoring of population trends;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to monitor the impacts of climate change on the OUV of the property and submit a disaster risk management plan and climate change adaptation plan to the World Heritage Centre once it is available;
  10. Requests moreover 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
Uganda
Date of Inscription: 1994
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1999-2004
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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