1.         Sangha Trinational (Cameroon,Central African Republic,Congo) (N 1380rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2012

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/1380/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1380/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: 250,000 Euros from 2008 to 2013 and 700 000 Euros from 2016 to 2021 through the Central African World Heritage Forest Initiative (CAWHFI) funded by the European Union

Previous monitoring missions

October 2016: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to Congo and Central African Republic component of the property

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1380/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 30 November 2020, the States Parties submitted a joint report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1380/documents, which provides the following information:

On 24 March 2021, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party of the Central African Republic requesting information on the aforementioned artisan mining project. On 20 May, the Embassy of the United States of America in the Central African Republic indicated that the project is located outside the buffer zone of the property, that it is not a new mining operation but a multi-stakeholder activity aimed at improved management of the natural resources and reduced pressure on the protected areas of Dzangha-Sanga.

In November 2020, the report “Embedding human rights in nature conservation: from intent to action - report of the Independent Panel of Experts of the Independent Review of allegations raised in the media regarding human rights violations in the context of WWF's conservation work” was published and highlights human rights concerns with reference to the management of the property.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Improvement of management efficiency by consolidating cross-border cooperation, updating the property's development plans, harmonizing management and monitoring tools, strengthening monitoring capacities, monitoring legal proceedings and the signing of a memorandum of understanding for tourist circulation is all positive.

Continuing dialogue with indigenous and local populations, training staff in human rights issues and indigenous peoples, putting in place legal and operational provisions for the recognition of their rights as well as their involvement in management of the property are welcomed. Recalling the concerns raised in the independent review initiated by WWF International, it is recommended that States Parties be requested to ensure that any concerns are addressed in accordance with relevant international standards, the World Heritage and Sustainable Development Policy, and taking into account the recommendations of the independent review.

The decrease in patrol efforts linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, together with the persistence of illegal activities such as poaching, gold panning and logging are of concern, and it is recommended to intensify surveillance efforts to control any illegal activity within the property and ensure the ecological restoration of degraded sites.

The limited decrease in vegetation cover is noted. However, faunal censuses remain sparse and variable in the property and do not allow an assessment of the state of conservation of populations, especially mammals. It is recommended to harmonize these censuses in order to obtain precise and comparable data over time on the characteristic species of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

In the buffer zone of the property, the rescinding of the three mining permits in Cameroon and the absence of mining activities in Congo are welcomed. The reported establishment of a new artisanal mining area with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) near the property in the Central African Republic is a cause for concern. However, noting the clarification provided by the Embassy of the United States of America that the project aims to better manage natural resources and reduce pressure on protected areas, it is recommended that the State Party provide clarifications on the potential impacts of this project on the OUV of the property.

In addition, the World Heritage Centre has received information on the allocation of oil exploration blocks in the northern region of the Congo. One of them could encroach upon the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, an integral part of the property. A letter, which has remained unanswered to date, was sent to the State Party on 1 August 2019 to obtain information in accordance with paragraph 174 of the Operational Guidelines. It is recommended that the Committee recall the incompatibility of oil, mining and gas exploration and exploitation with World Heritage status and that it urges the State Party of Congo to immediately revoke any permits that would infringe on the property.

The lack of progress in the development project for the waterway on the Sangha is noted. Furthermore, it is regrettable that the States Parties have not provided any information regarding the EIA and the progress of the Ouesso-Bangui road project. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to States Parties not to undertake these projects until EIAs are completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN.

The certification of forest concessions in the buffer zone of the property in Cameroon is a step forward, however this certification only targets the legality of production and does not provide for measures to ensure the conservation of biodiversity. The situation of the two forest concessions in the buffer zone of the property in the Central African Republic remains of concern. Only the EIA of the Operating License for a concession has been submitted to the World Heritage Centre but it does not adequately assess the impacts of the activity on the OUV of the property and points to the increase in environmental damage locally. It is recommended to request the State Party of the Central African Republic to provide adequate assessments of the impacts of these activities on the OUV of the property, to avoid any activity incompatible with the preservation of the OUV and to prioritize the certification of these two  concessions. The commitment of States Parties to define strategic directions to minimize the effects of forestry activities on ecological connectivity is welcomed and it is recommended to promote certification that minimizes the impacts on biodiversity by all forest concessions in the buffer zone.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.174

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.30, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the efforts made by the States Parties and their partners with a view to improving management efficiency through the consolidation of transboundary cooperation, the updating of the development plans for the components of the property, the harmonization of management and surveillance tools, capacity building of surveillance teams as well as monitoring of legal proceedings;
  4. Warmly welcomes the continuation of dialogue with indigenous and local populations, the training of personnel responsible for the application of the law in the issues of human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, the establishment of several legal and operational provisions. for the recognition of their rights as well as their involvement in the management of the property, and taking note of the concerns raised in the independent review of human rights issues launched by WWF International, requests the States Parties to ensure that any concerns are addressed in accordance with relevant international standards, the World Heritage and Sustainable Development Policy, and taking into account the recommendations of the independent review;
  5. Notes with concern the decrease in patrol efforts due in part to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the persistence of illegal activities, including poaching, gold panning and illegal logging, and also requests the States Parties to continue current efforts to protect mammal species, to strengthen its actions to eliminate any illegal activity within the property and to ensure the ecological restoration of degraded sites;
  6. Further requests the States Parties to harmonize the census of animal populations in order to obtain, in accordance with the scale of the property, precise and comparable data over time on the characteristic species of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  7. Also welcomes the decision of the non-renewal of the three mining permits by the State Party of Cameroon in the buffer zone, expresses its concern with regard to the reported creation, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), of an artisanal mining area near the property in the Central African Republic, and while noting the clarification from the Embassy of the United States of America that the project is located outside the buffer zone of the property and aims to reduce the pressure on the protected areas, further requests the State Party of the Central African Republic to urgently clarify the potential impacts of this project on the OUV of the property;
  8. Recalls its established position on the fact that oil and gas exploration and / or exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status, a policy supported by the commitments made by industry leaders, such as Shell and Total, not to undertake such activities at World Heritage properties, and also urges the State Party of Congo to immediately cancel any petroleum permits that would encroach on the property;
  9. Notes the status quo of the development project of the waterway for navigation on the Sangha and further requests the States Parties not to undertake this activity without a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) being carried out in accordance with the IUCN World Heritage Advice Note: Environmental Assessment, and submitted to the World Heritage Committee before any project approval;
  10. Regrets that the States Parties have not provided any information concerning the EIA of the Ouesso-Bangui road and the state of progress of the said project, and reiterates its request to the States Parties to ensure that the construction of the road does not begin until the EIA is completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  11. Also welcomes the commitment of the States Parties to define strategic guidelines to minimize the effects of forestry activities on ecological connectivity and encourages the States Parties to promote certification that minimizes the impacts on biodiversity of all forest concessions in the area;
  12. Reiterates its deep concern regarding the potential impacts on the OUV of the property by the two concessions in the buffer zone in the Central African Republic, and further requests the State Party of the Central African Republic to submit to the World Heritage Committee EIAs evaluating adequately the potential impacts of concessions for consideration, in accordance with IUCN World Heritage Advice Note: Environmental Assessment, and to prioritize certification of the two concessions;
  13. Also requests the States Parties to continue to implement all the recommendations of the 2016 reactive monitoring mission;
  14. Finally requests the States Parties 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.