1.         Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania) (N 506)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1989

Criteria  (ix)(x)

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/506/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 35,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 150,000 in the framework of the World Heritage Centre's Marine Programme

Previous monitoring missions

2002, 2003, 2004, 2013: World Heritage Centre missions; 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 27 November 2019, the Staty Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents/, which provides the following information:

In June 2020, the State Party submitted the SESA of the development of the town of Chami. On 11 February 2021, a meeting was held between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to discuss the strategy regarding ecotourism and the development of the town of Chami following the assessments by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN. The authorities in charge of the management of PNBA also took part in a technical meeting held on the same day with the State Party of Senegal and the authorities in charge of the management of the Diawling National Park (PND), organized by the World Heritage Centre and other organizations regarding the discovery of outbreaks of avian influenza in the PND and the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Senegal) (PNOD) (see also the state of conservation report of the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary).

In February 2021, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre the Terms of Reference of a SESA for a proposed exploration project (seismic program, multi-beam echo sounder (MBES) and coring) in the Mauritanian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party has made significant efforts towards the conservation of the property and it is recommended that the State Party continue these efforts, notably the finalization and implementation of the 2020-2024 development and management plan.

The abandonment of the village relocation project and the project to improve the resilience of ecosystems and local communities are welcomed, notably the proposed inclusive and participatory approach. The State Party is encouraged to continue to develop ecotourism as an alternative resource, ensuring strong involvement of indigenous communities.

The measures taken to protect endangered species, in particular regarding shark fishing and the establishment of sustainable fishing, are welcomed. However, fishing for other species is increasing and needs to be monitored to ensure its sustainability. The direct and indirect impacts of fishing, such as port development and their effects, need to be monitored and managed effectively.

Noting the different reported threats to the OUV of the property, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue to put in place the necessary measures to strengthen their monitoring and management, including intensifying efforts for waste management.

The SESA on the development of the town of Chami raises numerous and significant potential threats to the property and its OUV, requiring strict control of the development, implementation of mitigation measures or prohibition of certain activities. The approval of projects that could threaten the OUV of the property must be prevented. It should be noted with concern the conclusions of the CSBA on the gold mining activity in Chami and its potential impact on the OUV of the property and it should be recommended that the State Party implement the recommendations, in particular on the removal of gold panning sites from the PNBA borders and treatment of contaminated sludge.

Regarding the possible designation of the property as a PSSA, the State Party is encouraged to transmit to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) the national navigation data as soon as possible in order to explore the technical feasibility of a possible designation, prior to a nomination. If, however, a PSSA designation proved unsuccessful, it is recommended that the Committee should encourage the State Party to use all national tools to mitigate any risk of maritime traffic around the property.

It is regrettable that the ESIA of the oil exploration of block C19 was not transmitted prior to operations, in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. The reservations expressed by the CSBA on the insufficiency of environmental data and the real risks on the OUV of the property in the event of exploitation should be considered. It is therefore crucial that a new ESIA is carried out in accordance with international standards and good practices and, in accordance with the Operational Guidelines, that it be transmitted to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation before authorizing the transition to an operational phase.

With regard to the ESIA for a multi-block exploration project, the Terms of Reference should be revised to ensure that the ESIA is consistent with the principles of the IUCN World Heritage advise note on Environmental Assessment, including specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property and consideration of direct, indirect and cumulative impacts.

Regarding the water extraction field for the Tasiast gold mine, studies show that no threat to OUV caused by water extraction has been identified. The CSBA’s reservations on these studies and the request to limit water withdrawals as a precaution are noted. As an extension of the cooperation agreement between PNBA and TMLSA, it is recommended that the State Party consider undertaking a larger-scale strategic technical assessment of the hydrological system in relation to the property.

The discovery of outbreaks of avian influenza in PND and PNOD is worrying. Although to date no cases have been found in the property, it is important to closely monitor the bird populations and implement the guidelines of the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds to contain the outbreak, in close cooperation with the Senegalese authorities.

Finally, the potential addition of new criteria should be the subject of a new nomination, in accordance with paragraph 166 of the Operational Guidelines. The State Party is invited to engage in a dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN with a view to the potential integration of new attributes that could contribute to the OUV.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.87

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.98, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the State Party for the efforts made and requests it to pursue them, in particular by finalizing and implementing the 2020-2024 development and management plan, which should be transmitted to the World Heritage Centre for examination;
  4. Welcomes the abandonment of the relocation project for villages threatened by climate change and the development of an alternative project aimed at “improving the resilience of indigenous populations and the ecosystems of the Banc d’Arguin”, as well as the State Party’s efforts to develop sustainable community ecotourism respecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  5. Welcoming the measures taken to protect endangered species, in particular concerning shark fishing and the implementation of sustainable fishing practices, and nevertheless taking note of the various actual and potential threats to the OUV of the property reported by the State Party, also requests it to continue and strengthen its monitoring and management, including fishing, in particular within the framework of the 2020-2024 development and management plan;
  6. Notes with concern that the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) on the development of the town of Chami raises numerous and significant potential threats to the property and its OUV, requiring strict control of the development, implementation of mitigation measures or prohibition of certain activities and reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that any development in the town of Chami is first subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted to the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with the IUCN World Heritage advise note on Environmental Assessment before any decision of approval;
  7. Further requests the State Party not to approve a development that could have a negative impact on the OUV of the property and urges the State Party to follow the recommendations of the Banc d’Arguin Scientific Council (CSBA), including on the removal of gold mining sites from the borders of the Banc d’Arguin National Park and on the treatment of contaminated sludge and waste in order to avoid their dissemination in the property;
  8. Regrets that the State Party has not yet transmitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) the national navigation data required to consider a possible designation of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA), and requests furthermore the State Party to send it as soon as possible in order to explore the technical feasibility of the possible designation, before submitting a final application;
  9. Also regrets that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the oil exploration project of block C19 near the property was not transmitted to the World Heritage Centre before the start of operations, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and requests moreover the State Party to:
    1. ensure the implementation of the mitigation measures identified by the CSBA to avoid any indirect impact on the OUV of the property during the exploration phase,
    2. undertake a new ESIA respecting international standards and good practices before authorizing to proceed to an operational phase to assess the impacts of the OUV of the property, in accordance with the IUCN World Heritage advise note on Environmental Assessment, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review, in accordance with the Operational Guidelines;
    3. ensure that the IUCN evaluation of the Terms of Reference for an ESIA for a proposed exploration project in the Mauritanian Exclusive Economic Zone is taken into account;
  10. Considering the location of the water extraction field of the Tasiast mine, the studies on the potential hydrogeological impacts and on the OUV of the property and the reservations made by the CSBA also requests moreover the State Party to undertake a larger-scale strategic technical assessment of the hydrological system in relation to the property;
  11. Also notes with concern the outbreaks of avian influenza in the Diawling National Park and the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (Senegal) and also requests furthermore the State Party to closely monitor the bird populations and implement the guidance provided by the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds to contain the epizootic and avoid any outbreaks in the property, in close cooperation with the State Party of Senegal;
  12. Recalls that the addition of possible new criteria would require the presentation of this request as a new nomination, in accordance with Paragraph 166 of the Operational Guidelines, and the application of procedures specific to a new nomination, and invites the State Party to engage in dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on the issue of the attributes;
  13. Finally 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.