1.         Ngorongoro Conservation Area (United Republic of Tanzania) (C/N 39bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (iv)(vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1984-1989

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/39/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-2009)
Total amount approved: USD 260,386
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/39/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

April 1986: IUCN mission; April-May 2007: UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission; December 2008: UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Increased human pastoral population;

b) Immigration; Poaching;

c) Spread of invasive species;

d) Tourism pressure;

e) Encroachment and cultivation

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/39/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

It is important to note that the State Party has submitted a re-nomination of this natural property under cultural criteria for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session. The re-nomination has been evaluated by ICOMOS with support from IUCN in 2009. The technical evaluation should be considered in parallel with this state of conservation report, as it partly overlaps in terms of integrity, governance and management issues.

On 25 February 2010, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. The report notes the following progress in the implementation of the 2007 and 2008 monitoring mission recommendations:

a) Continue and complete by June 2008 the process of voluntary relocation of immigrant populations,

The report notes that efforts to raise awareness about the voluntary relocation of immigrants continue and that some people have now registered for this relocation. Social services at the relocation site of Jema are reported to be in a final stage and efforts are continuing in cooperation with the Arusha regional authority to identify more areas outside NCA suitable for the relocation programme. The report does not provide any details on the number of people that have accepted the relocation or if and when this programme is scheduled to be completed.

b) Carry out and complete by June 2008 a census and carrying capacity study, based on the needs of the Maasai population and an assessment of the ecological impacts of the populations

The report recalls that a carrying capacity study has already been carried out, as mentioned in previous reports, and that the results of this study show that NCA can only accommodate 25000 people with cattle. The 2007 population census showed that 64000 people currently live in NCA. In annex to the State Party report, a summary of the existing carrying capacity study is included, documenting various scenarios which were included in this study.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the 2008 mission was informed about this existing carrying capacity study, but also noted that its results were contested by the Maasai community, who were not at all involved in this study. The mission therefore supported the recommendation of the 2007 mission to carry out a new scientific carrying capacity study, based on the needs of the Maasai population and the assessment of the ecological impacts.

The State Party also reports that agriculture in Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) was banned in August 2009. However, it does not provide information on the enforcement of the ban, and it is unclear what alternatives there are for residents involved in agriculture.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the 2008 mission also concluded that while agriculture was legally prohibited within NCA, it was widespread and tolerated and no strategy was in place to manage it. The mission also expressed its concern about the impacts of agriculture on the integrity of the property and the World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that a ban, if enforced, will have a positive impact on the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. However, it is clear that many of the resident communities, including the Maasai are now dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods as many have given up their traditional nomadic lifestyle. Therefore, the question of agriculture cannot be dissociated from the question of the livelihood of the concerned populations, the carrying capacity of the area and the management of human occupation. It is noteworthy that even the scenario of the carrying capacity leading to the number of 25000 residents takes into account limited agricultural activities. 

c) Implement the recommendations of the Environmental Impact Assessment on traffic congestion in the crater

The State Party report recalls that in an attempt to diversify tourism attractions, and thereby reduce traffic congestion in the crater, several nature trails have been designed, and roads to access them have been improved. Construction of visitor information centres at the main gate and near the Laetoli Footprint site is also reported. Most of these activities had already been reported upon at the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee. Other recommendations, such as the creation of a booking system and shortened tours in order to achieve the target of 100 vehicles per day in the crater, remain to be developed.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that while diversification of tourism may lead to a reduction in traffic, it is not clear whether the State Party’s actions on this issue have effectively reduced traffic. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the remaining recommendations to address visitor pressure in the crater, in particular the introduction of half day tours, the introduction of a booking system and the enforcement of the limit of 100 vehicles per day in the crater still remain to be implemented. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the management of tourism traffic continues to require urgent action.

d) Close and rehabilitate all existing gravel pits in the property

The 2008 mission acknowledged that it might be necessary to maintain some gravel pits but recommended immediate closure of the gravel pit near Sopa Lodge on the rim of the crater due to its visual impacts. The State Party report does not provide any information on this issue.

e) Freeze any new lodge development in the property, in particular on the crater rim, and f) Develop a proactive tourism strategy to guide future activities in relation to tourism within the conservation area;

The 2008 mission noted that while no new lodges had been approved on the crater rim, other lodges and tourism facilities were being developed without an overall tourism strategy. It considered that an overall tourism strategy should be developed, which should not seek to increase visitation but rather focus on managing existing visitor streams. The State Party report does not provide any information on the on-going lodge developments.

The report notes that NCA is beginning to develop an overall tourism strategy that would focus on tourism quality rather than quantity. In addition, an improvement of tourist facilities is reported so as to ensure visitor satisfaction. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the challenge remains to facilitate a satisfying visitor experience and maintain this major source of revenue without compromising the integrity and values of the NCA and creating conflicts with local residents.

g) Ensure that existing lodges are best practice models in relation to environmental protection

While during the 2008 mission, the State Party announced that environmental audits would be completed for all lodges soon, the current report does not provide information on this issue. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the 2008 mission had recommended to finalize and implement by the end of 2009 the code of conduct for drivers, vehicles and guides and that all environmental audits be completed by the same date.


h) Continue existing programmes for control of invasive species, in particular to eradicate Azolla filicoloides

While the State Party does not report on this issue, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received information that a number of invasive plant species, such as Argemone mexicana and Datura stramonium, continue to be of concern and require monitoring and management responses.

i) Complete as quickly as possible the programme to relocate NCAA and lodge staff as well as other major infrastructure outside the property

The State Party reports that efforts are continuing: 24 families were relocated and housing facilities for a further 36 families are reported to be underway. However, the relocation is far from being completed as only a small number of the 360 families have been relocated. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the slow pace of the relocation of staff, which at the time of the 2008 monitoring mission was expected to be completed by 2012.

j) Explore alternatives to limit or remove cattle grazing in the crater

The State Party recalls that in line with the General Management Plan grazing areas have been set aside within the property in collaboration with the Pastoral Council, whereas grazing in core areas including Ngorongoro crater is banned. Water dams outside the crater intended to ensure water availability in the dry season and alternative salt sources have been provided to motivate pastoralists not to take their cattle inside the crater. No information is provided on the impacts of these measures.


k) Explore and implement a range of innovative financing mechanisms

The State Party reports that revenues generated by tourism are substantial and increasing. No information is provided on the recommendations of the 2008 mission to ensure that tourism generated revenues are allocated in a manner that benefits all concerned stakeholders. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that, given its world class reputation, the property has exceptional potential to become a model for sustainable financing of heavily visited protected areas.

l) Develop a high level technical forum between NCAA, TANAPA and the Wildlife Department to ensure better management of the Ngorongoro-Serengeti ecosystem

The establishment of a "Serengeti Ecosystem Form" (SEF) as a follow-up to this recommendation was reported in 2008. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that this positive development should be consolidated and sustained to ensure the integration of the property into the larger landscape and to better understand and manage the interactions and linkages with the surrounding land, including the various protected areas, such as Serengeti National Park and World Heritage property. There is increasing human pressure outside the boundaries of the property. IUCN has received reports concerning proposed permanent lodges in areas known to be important wildlife corridors. They consider the consolidation of SEF necessary to address increasingly complex and large scale developments in the broader region. The Serengeti-Ngorongoro biosphere reserve is suggested as an umbrella for such broader landscape schemes.

m) Ensure active participation of the resident communities in decision making processes and develop benefit sharing mechanisms to encourage a sense of ownership of, and responsibility for, the conservation and sustainable use of the property’s natural resources;

The State Party report recalls the involvement of the resident communities through the Pastoral Council, the Chairman of which also sits on the NCAA board. The report further enumerates a list of projects NCAA is funding to benefit the communities. However, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that in spite of these efforts, the 2008 mission observed the growing tension between NCAA and the resident communities. The mission therefore, recommended that NCAA initiate a dialogue with the communities on their participation in decision making, the development of benefit sharing mechanisms as well as their responsibility for the implementation of the objectives of the General Management Plan with regard to land use within the property. The report provides no indication on whether such a process has started.

The State Party also has submitted a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value as requested by the Committee in 2009. Depending on the decision on the parallel re-nomination of Ngorongoro under cultural criteria, this will be further developed by the State Party in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and, if applicable, ICOMOS.

In conclusion, it is clear that there has been limited progress as regards the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 and 2008 monitoring missions. There are no signs that the well-documented trend of increasing threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and mounting tensions between local residents and the authorities has been halted. In spite of some progress made, not only do many of the 2007 recommendations remain to be implemented, but there continue to be developments in marked contradiction to these recommendations.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also received reports and complaints that in response to the Decisions of the World Heritage Committee, the State Party would plan to forcefully evict resident populations from the property. The World Heritage Centre contacted the State Party on this issue, which denied that any forced eviction had taken place or were planned.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that while the growing impacts of the resident populations on the values and integrity of the property are of concern, the General Management Plan has the dual objectives of maintaining a balance between nature conservation and peoples’ needs, as detailed in the property's policy programme. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the challenges to meet these dual objectives are greater than ever before.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN acknowledge that the issue of human population impacts are complex and conflictive and that they can only be addressed through dialogue with the local communities and will require a long term approach. They note that any relocation also raises important issues, including prior, free and informed consent, the exact interaction between human use and natural values in a dynamic ecosystem, the appropriateness of alternative land and facilities offered, land tenure security, as well as possible competition and conflict with other resource users in the new areas.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the mechanisms for credible and effective participation in management and for negotiating conflicts should be improved and encourage the State Party to develop a more inclusive, effective and transparent management framework that allows for meaningful stakeholder participation. Future management frameworks will also have to consider the World Heritage Committee decision on the re-nomination of the property under cultural criteria and its potential implications for management. It may also be noted that if forms of tourism that threaten to compromise the integrity, protection and management of the property continue to be promoted, this will rapidly degrade the property’s values. Therefore, it is critical that the State Party develop an overall sustainable tourism strategy, based on high environmental and social standards, as requested by the World Heritage Committee.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the impacts of human population pressure and tourism need to be addressed urgently. If current degradation patterns are not stopped, the OUV of the property will be jeopardized and the World Heritage Committee may have to consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies


Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7B.4

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.9, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Expresses its utmost concern about increasing pressures on the Ngorongoro ecosystem, particularly from tourism and growing human use, and the limited progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2007 and 2008 reactive monitoring missions;

4. Considers that if current degradation patterns are not stopped, the Outstanding Universal Value of the property could be jeopardized and inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger may be considered;

5. Strongly urges the State Party to implement all recommendations of the 2007 and 2008 monitoring missions to address these threats;

6. Reiterates the importance to change the current governance framework so as to facilitate more meaningful stakeholder involvement in land-use planning and the development of more transparent and effective benefit-sharing mechanisms and a realistic overall tourism strategy;

7. Requests the State Party to invite the joint UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission which will be visiting Seregenti National Park, and update the mission on the implementation of the 2007 and 2008 mission recommendations;

8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the 2007 and 2008 monitoring mission recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8B.13

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8B.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Recalling that Ngorongoro Conservation Area, United Republic of Tanzania, is already inscribed on the World Heritage List under criteria (vii), (viii), (ix) and (x);

3. Inscribes Ngorongoro Conservation Area, United Republic of Tanzania, on the World Heritage List under criterion (iv);

4. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief synthesis

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (809,440ha) spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests, from the plains of the Serengeti National Park in the north-west, to the eastern arm of the Great Rift Valley.  The area was established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, with wildlife coexisting with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practising traditional livestock grazing.  It includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater, the world's largest caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a 14km long deep ravine.  The property has global importance for biodiversity conservation in view of the presence of globally threatened species such as the black Rhino, the density of wildlife inhabiting the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding areas throughout the year, and the annual migration of wildebeest, zebra, Thompson's and Grant's gazelles and other ungulates into the northern plains. 

The area has been subject to extensive archaeological research for over 80 years and has yielded a long sequence of evidence of human evolution and human-environment dynamics, collectively extending over a span of almost four million years to the early modern era.  This evidence includes fossilized footprints at Laetoli, associated with the development of human bipedalism, a sequence of diverse, evolving hominin species within Olduvai gorge, which range from Australopiths such as Zinjanthropus boisei to the Homo lineage that includes Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens; an early form of Homo sapiens at Lake Ndutu; and, in the Ngorongoro crater, remains that document the development of stone technology and the transition to the use of iron.  The overall landscape of the area is seen to have the potential to reveal much more evidence concerning the rise of anatomically modern humans, modern behavior and human ecology.

Criterion (iv): Ngorongoro Conservation Area has yielded an exceptionally long sequence of crucial evidence related to human evolution and human-environment dynamics, collectively extending from four million years ago to the beginning of this era, including physical evidence of the most important benchmarks in human evolutionary development.  Although the interpretation of many of the assemblages of Olduvai Gorge is still debatable, their extent and density are remarkable. Several of the type fossils in the hominin lineage come from this site.  Furthermore, future research in the property is likely to reveal much more evidence concerning the rise of anatomically modern humans, modern behavior and human ecology.

Criterion (vii): The stunning landscape of Ngorongoro Crater combined with its spectacular concentration of wildlife is one of the greatest natural wonders of the planet.  Spectacular wildebeest numbers (well over 1 million animals) pass through the property as part of the annual migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti ecosystem and calve in the short grass plains which straddle the Ngorongoro Conservation Area/Serengeti National Park boundary.  This constitutes a truly superb natural phenomenon.

Criterion (viii): Ngorongoro crater is the largest unbroken caldera in the world.  The crater, together with the Olmoti and Empakaai craters are part of the eastern Rift Valley, whose volcanism dates back to the late Mesozoic / early Tertiary periods and is famous for its geology.  The property also includes Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge, which contain an important palaeontological record related to human evolution.

Criterion (ix): The variations in climate, landforms and altitude have resulted in several overlapping ecosystems and distinct habitats, with short grass plains, highland catchment forests, savanna woodlands, montane long grass plains and high open moorlands.  The property is part of the Serengeti ecosystem, one of the last intact ecosystems in the world which harbours large and spectacular animal migrations.

Criterion (x): Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to a population of some 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, alongside the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa including the densest known population of lion (estimated 68 in 1987). The property harbours a range of endangered species, such as the Black Rhino, Wild hunting dog and Golden Cat and 500 species of birds. It also supports one of the largest animal migrations on earth, including over 1 million wildebeest, 72,000 zebras and c.350,000 Thompson and Grant gazelles.


The property was inscribed under natural criteria (vii), (viii), (ix) and (x) in 1979 and under cultural criterion (iv) in 2010.  Thus, the statement of integrity reflects integrity for natural values at the date of inscription of 1979, and for the cultural value in 2010.

In relation to natural values, the grasslands and woodlands of the property support very large animal populations, largely undisturbed by cultivation at the time of inscription. The wide-ranging landscapes of the property were not impacted by development or permanent agriculture at the time of inscription. The integrity of the property is also enhanced by being part of Serengeti - Mara ecosystem. The property adjoins Serengeti National Park (1,476,300 ha), which is also included on the World Heritage List as a natural property.  Connectivity within and between these properties and adjoining landscapes, through functioning wildlife corridors is essential to protect the integrity of animal migrations. No hunting is permitted in Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), but poaching of wildlife is a continuing threat, requiring effective patrolling and enforcement capacity. Invasive species are a source of ongoing concern, requiring continued monitoring and effective action if detected. Tourism pressure is also of concern, including in relation to the potential impacts from increased visitation, new infrastructure, traffic, waste management, disturbance to wildlife and the potential for introduction of invasive species.The property provides grazing land for semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists. At the time of inscription an estimated 20,000 Maasai were living in the property, with some 275,000 head of livestock, which was considered within the capacity of the reserve.  No permanent agriculture is officially allowed in the property. Further growth of the Maasai population and the number of cattle should remain within the capacity of the property, and increasing sedentarisation, local overgrazing and agricultural encroachment are threats to both the natural and cultural values of the property. There were no inhabitants in Ngorongoro and Empaakai Craters or the forest at the time of inscription in 1979.

The property encompasses not only the known archaeological remains but also areas of high archaeo-anthropological potential where related finds might be made. However the integrity of specific paleo-archaeological attributes and the overall sensitive landscape are to an extent under threat and thus vulnerable due to the lack of enforcement of protection arrangements related to grazing regimes, and from proposed access and tourist related developments at Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge.


In general, the authenticity of the fossil localities is unquestionable, however given the nature of fossil sites, the context for the fossil deposits needs to remain undisturbed (except by natural geological processes). As the nomination dossier does not contain sufficient detailed information on most of the sites to delineate their extended areas or the areas of archaeological sensitivity, or sufficient guarantees in terms of management arrangements to ensure that the sites will remain undisturbed and not threatened by visitor access, construction or grazing cattle, their authenticity is vulnerable.

Protection and management requirements

The primary legislation protecting the property is the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Ordinance of 1959.  The property is under the management of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). The Division of Antiquities is responsible for the management and protection of the paleo-anthropological resources within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. A memorandum of understanding should be established and maintained to formally establish the relations between the two entities.

Property management is guided by a General Management Plan. Currently, the primary management objectives are to conserve the natural resources of the property, protect the interests of the Maasai pastoralists, and to promote tourism.  The management system and the Management Plan need to be widened to encompass an integrated cultural and natural approach, bringing together ecosystem needs with cultural objectives in order to achieve a sustainable approach to conserving the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including the management of grasslands and the archaeological resource, and to promote environmental and cultural awareness. The Plan needs to extend the management of cultural attributes beyond social issues and the resolution of human-wildlife conflicts to the documentation, conservation and management of the cultural resources and the investigation of the potential of the wider landscape in archaeological terms.

It is particularly important that NCAA has the capacity and specialist skills to ensure the effectiveness of its multiple-use regime, including knowledge of management of pastoral use in partnership with the Maasai community and other relevant stakeholders. There is also a need for NCAA to ensure staff have skills in natural and cultural heritage to achieve well designed, integrated and effective conservation strategies, including effective planning of tourism, access and infrastructure.

A thorough understanding of the capacity of the property to accommodate human use and livestock grazing is required, based on the needs of the Maasai population and the assessment of the impact of the human populations on the ecosystems and archaeology of the property. An agreed joint strategy between the NCAA, Maasai community leaders as well as other stakeholders, is required to ensure human population levels, and levels of resource use are in balance with the protection of its natural and cultural attributes, including in relation to grazing and grassland management, and the avoidance of human-wildlife conflict. The active participation of resident communities in decision-making processes is essential, including the development of benefit-sharing mechanisms to encourage a sense of ownership of, and responsibility for, the conservation and sustainable use of the property's natural and cultural resources.

An overall tourism strategy for the property is a long term requirement, to both guide the public use of the property and ways of presenting the property, and to prioritize the quality of the tourism experience, rather than the quantity of visitors and tourism facilities. Vehicle access to the crater and other popular areas of the property requires clear limits to protect the quality of experience of the property and to ensure natural and cultural attributes are not unduly disturbed. Developments and infrastructure for tourism or management of the property that impinge on its natural and cultural attributes should not be permitted.

Considering the important relationship, in natural terms of the property to adjoining reserves, it is important to establish effective and continuing collaboration between the property, Serengeti National Park, and other areas of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem to assure connectivity for wildlife migrations, and harmonize management objectives regarding tourism use, landscape management and sustainable development.

5. Recommends that the State Party explore alternative ways to improve the presentation of the Laetoli and Zinjanthropus sites and keep the World Heritage Committee informed about any proposals for construction at these two sites before any commitments are made, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

6. Also recommends that, in order to set out a clear basis for the value of the cultural resource, and its conservation and management needs, the State Party provide to the World Heritage Centre:

a) Details on the specific area and location of the palaeo-anthropological resources, including specific boundaries for Laetoli, Lake Ndutu, Nasera, and the Ngorongoro Burial Mounds, and for their sensitive settings, to ensure their protection;

b) Details of sensitive archaeological landscapes throughout the property;

c) Details of the location of finds from all palaeo-anthropological sites;

d) Conservation plans for all palaeo-anthropological localities;

7. Further recommends the State Party to develop a revised management plan that gives a higher profile to the management of cultural resources, sets out how regulations will be enforced and includes a pastoralism strategy that respects both natural and cultural resources, involves the Maasai and defines a sustainable approach to managing the grasslands within the property.

8. Requests the State Party to continue to deal with extreme caution concerning any decision taken to open the Laetoli footprints;

9. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/AdvisoryBody mission to the property to develop a Desired State of Conservation to make proposals for a revision of the Management System and Plan to ensure adequate protection, conservation and management of the cultural attributes, as well as addressing the conservation issues regarding the natural attributes addressed in document WHC-10/34.COM/7B;

10. Recalls its request to the State Party, considered under item 7B of the present session, to provide to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a report on the State of Conservation of the property for consideration by the Committee at its 35th Session in 2011.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8B.14

Note: the provisions of Decision 34 COM 8B.14 have been integrated to Decision 34 COM 8B.13