1.         Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Côte d'Ivoire,Guinea) (N 155bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1981

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1992-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Corrective measures identified

No corrective measures have been set for the part of the property situated in Côte d’Ivoire. For the part of the property situated in Guinea, following corrective measures were identified by the 2006 World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission and adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31 session (Christchurch, 2007):

a) Strengthen the capacities of the management authority CEGENS in the field, in particular by providing the necessary financial and technical resources to accomplish its mission;

b) Strengthen the surveillance of the property in cooperation with the local communities, in particular by recruiting the ecoguards necessary and by strengthening the capacities of the newly created Village Surveillance Committees;

c) Define a buffer zone for the property, in consultation with local stakeholders, with an appropriate legal status and strengthen the conservation of the property through sustainable management of the natural resources within this buffer zone;

d) Put in place an ecological monitoring system and a geo-referenced database for all scientific data collected on the property;

e) Conduct a feasibility study to define a sustainable finance mechanism for the property;

f) Develop a strategy for the conservation of the Déré Forest and Bossou Hills;

g) Prepare a management plan for the property and the biosphere reserve.

The mission also developed some recommendations with regard to the mining project, which have been included in Decision 31 COM 7A.3.

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/155/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 405,222
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/155/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

1988: World Heritage Centre mission; 1993: World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission; 1994: IUCN mission; 2000: World Heritage Centre mission; 2007: World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission to Guinea. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Mining;

b) Influx of refugees;

c) Agricultural encroachment;

d) Deforestation;

e) Poaching;

f) Weak management capactiy;

g) Lack of resources;

h) Lack of transboundary cooperation.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/155/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

A report on the state of conservation of its part of the property was submitted by the State Party of Côte d’Ivoire in March 2008. The State Party of Guinea did not submit the report requested by the World Heritage Committee (Decision 31 COM 7A.3).

The monitoring mission to the Côte d’Ivoire part of the property has been postponed since 2007 due to security concerns and is now planned for June 2008. The results of the mission to Côte d’Ivoire, will be presented orally at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee.

Côte d’Ivoire

The State Party report confirms that in spite of the peace agreement, management activities in the reserve have not yet re-started. This is due to the inaccessibility of the area for park staff, as access roads are degraded and park infrastructure is still occupied by former rebel fighters. Poaching continues to be the main threat, although it is reported to have decreased as a result of the permanent presence of “village ecologists”, working for researchers of Tokyo university. There is no agricultural encroachment.

In December 2007, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN received reports, describing the signing of a joint venture agreement between Tata Steel Production Company and the Côte d’Ivoire Society for Mining Development (Sociéte d’Etat pour le Developpement Minier de la Côte d’Ivoire - SODEMI) for the development of iron ore deposits in the Ivorian part of the Nimba mountains. The World Heritage Centre wrote a lettre on 21 December 2007 to the Permanent Delegation of Côte d’Ivoire, requesting information on the agreement and if the planned activities would affect the property. To date, no official reply was received on this lettre other than an acknowledgment of receipt. However, the Permanent Delegation convened a meeting on 14 March 2008 between the World Heritage Centre and officials from SODEMI and Tata Steel. In the meeting, the Director General of SODEMI and the representative of Tata explained that the Government had not informed them about the World Heritage status of the area. They confirmed that an agreement was signed for exploration activities to survey the iron deposits in the property, but that no formal agreement had been reached to start mining operations.

The State Party report of Côte d’Ivoire submitted in March 2008 did not mention any proposed or planned mining concessions within the property.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are of the opinion that any mining within the part of the property situated in Côte d’Ivoire would lead to an irreversible loss of the outstanding universal value of this property. They recall the position taken by the World Heritage Committee in previous similar cases, that mining is not compatible with the World Heritage status. They note that this principle has been endorsed by major companies in the industry, as outlined in the International Council on Mining and Metals Position Statement on Protected Areas (2003). The State Party is requested to respond to the World Heritage Centre letter concerning the current status of the proposed iron-ore mining in Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve.

Guinea

At the 31st session, the results of the World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission, which took place from 12 to 22 May 2007, were presented orally. The full mission report can be found on https://whc.unesco.org/archive/2007.

The mission team concluded that the outstanding universal value for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List was still present but under increasing pressure. It identified two major threats to the property, namely a significant increase in poaching pressure and a degradation of the vegetation as a result of repeated heavy burning. Other important threats include unsustainable agricultural practices immediately adjacent to the property leading to deforestation and increasing pressures from livestock grazing. The mission noted that these pressures had increased significantely since the 1993 monitoring mission and threaten the integrity of the property. The mission also reported that the management of the property remains weak, with the management authority lacking the necessary resources to implement its mission. A 9 year UNDP/GEF project was expected to contribute to reinforcing the management and addressing the threats but had only just started its activities in the field. To address these issues, the mission proposed a set of corrective measures, which were adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31 session (Christchurch, 2007).

The mission also noted the importance of clarifying the legal status of the World Heritage property, buffer zone and mining enclave as well as the two other core zones of the biosphere reserve.

The mission team further reviewed the on-going and planned mining activities by the Societé des Mines de Fer de Guinée (SMFG) in the enclave. The mission also reviewed the efforts to clarify the boundaries of the mining enclave as adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 1993 and provided recommendations on the outstanding issues. It further concluded that the impact of the on-going exploration activities on the property was limited but identified major potential impacts of the planned mining in the enclave, namely climatic impacts, impacts on the biodiversity and impacts on the watershed:

· The planned open cast iron mining will create a breach in the mountain ridge, which will facilitate the penetration of dry harmatan winds into the property. This might affect the diversity of microclimates found in the Reserve, which is at the basis of its exceptionnal plant diversity;

· The mining activities in the enclave might impact on some of the key species, which are contributing to the outstanding universal valueof the property. Recent studies revealed that 50% of the population of the endemic viviparous toad is living within the mining concession;

· Mining operations could affect different rivers and streams which originate in the enclave but afterwards enter the property.

The environmental impact assesment (EIA) will have to clarify to which extend these potential threats will affect the values and integrity of the property. Lack of baseline data are making this assesment especially challenging and at the time of the mission, several baseline data on the climate, hydrology and biodiversity were being collected. The mission requested that the mining company and the State Party would consult regularly with all stakeholders, including the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, to discuss the implementation of the EIA and that any intermediary results would be submitted to the World Heritage Committee.

The State Party did not provide the report requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch 2007), and therefore no further information is available on the implementation of the corrective measures, or on progress in the delimitation of the property.

A delegation of SMFG visited the World Heritage Centre on 5 November 2007. During the meeting, the recommendations of the 2007 mission were discussed. Following the request of the World Heritage Committee to keep all stakeholders, including the World Heritage Centre and IUCN informed about progress in the EIA process, SMFG proposed to organise regular information meetings. A first meeting took place at UNESCO on 14 February 2008, with participation of IUCN, the World Heritage Centre and UNESCO MAB programme, UNDP and from Guinea the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Mines, the UNESCO National Commission and the national MAB Committee. At the meeting, SMFG presented the different base line assessments currently conducted or planned and confirmed that the EIA is scheduled to start the second half of 2008. To conduct the EIA, SMFG will recruit an international consultant and the study will be conducted in compliance with the Guinean law and international good practice standards. Participants to the meeting proposed that the results of the EIA would be submitted to an international committee of experts to ensure its quality. The meeting also discussed the problem of the unclear legal status highlighted by the 2007 mission, but the representative of the Environment Ministry announced that a law was under development to address this issue. SMFG also explained that the remaining open issues with regard to the clarification of the boundaries of the mining concession will be resolved soon.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN urge the mining company to conduct the EIA and feasibility study for the mining project using the highest international standards to ensure that all potential direct and indirect impacts on the property, in particular those identified by the 2007 mission, are carefully assessed. The EIA should take into account the lifecycle of the mine, its waste storage and infrastructure requirements, and the ecological restoration of the landscape at the end of the lifespan of the mine.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are also concerned that no information was provided by the State Party on the implementation of the corrective measures to address the escalating threats identified during the 2007 mission. If the State Party of Guinea is unable to manage and reduce these threats, the impact of any mining activities could be compounded and lead to the greater loss of values and integrity of the property. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7A.3

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Regrets that the State Party of Guinea did not submit the report on the state of conservation of the property and on progress in the implementation of the corrective measures and recommendations of the 2007 monitoring mission;

4. Notes the positive efforts of the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire to address the challenges facing the property ;

5. Also notes that the 2008 Reactive Monitoring mission to the portion of the property in Côte d'Ivoire observed that the Outstanding Universal Value appears to be maintained but that data on wildlife, in particular endangered species, is insufficient to evaluate the status of criterion(x);

6. A lso regrets that the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire did not inform the World Heritage Committee of the planned mining exploration in its part of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

7. Expresses its utmost concern about the planned mining activities in the Côte d'Ivoire part of the property and considers it incompatible with the World Heritage status of the property which, if implemented, would lead to the irreversible loss of the Outstanding Universal Value of this property;

8. Urges the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire to reconsider its plans for mining exploration or exploitation within the property and requests the State Party to confirm before the Committee's 33rd session in 2009 that all mining concessions within the property have been revoked;

9. Calls upon the holders of any mining concession covering the property to respect international standards with respect to mining in World Heritage properties, as outlined in the International Council on Mining and Metals Position Statement on Mining and Protected Areas (2003) and not to mine within World Heritage properties;

10. Urges the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire to implement immediately the recommendations of the 2008 joint World Heritage Centre /IUCN monitoring mission which can be considered as corrective measures:

                        a) re-establish the presence of the protected area authority Office Ivoirien des Parcs et Reserves (OIPR) within the property and resume management activities, establish cooperation mechanisms and strengthen communication with the local communities;

                        b) conduct a wildlife survey of key species to clarify the status of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and establish a comprehensive monitoring programme to monitor and control threats in particular from poaching;

                        c) define a buffer zone, in consultation with local stakeholders, with the appropriate legal status to strengthen the conservation of the property through sustainable management of the natural resources within this buffer zone;

                        d) develop a management plan in close cooperation with all stakeholders, in particular the local community, and harmonise this plan with the plan being developed in Guinea;

                        e) define a sustainable finance mechanism for the entire property together with the State Party of Guinea;

11. Encourages the State Party of Côte d'Ivoire, in cooperation with its development partners, to increase its support to improve the livelihoods of local communities;

12. Reiterates its request to the States Parties of Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea to meet and resume tripartite discussions with Liberia to enhance the required coordination which will be essential to implement the recommendations from the 2007 and 2008 monitoring missions. The States Parties may wish to request international assistance from the World Heritage Fund to organize a meeting before the 33rd session of the Committee;

13. Urges the State Party of Guinea to implement the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) and the other recommendations of the 2007 monitoring mission;

14. Reiterates its request to the State Party of Guinea and the mining company SMFG to conduct the environmental impact assesment of the mining project, in accordance with the highest international standards and collect the necessary baseline data in order to clarify and quantify the potential impact of the planned exploitation on the property, in close consultation with all stake holders, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, and to submit to the World Heritage Committee any intermediary results;

15. Requests the international community to assist by all possible means the States Parties of Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea to achieve the Desired State of Conservation of the property;

16. Also requests the States Parties, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity, as well as a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage

17. Further requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and on progress in the implementation of the corrective measures and other recommendations of the 2007 and 2008 missions, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

18. Decidesto retain Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.