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Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

Zambia, Zimbabwe
Factors affecting the property in 2007*
  • Air pollution
  • Drought
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Input of excess energy
  • Surface water pollution
  • Water (extraction)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Project to construct a dam across the gorge (issue resolved); 
  • Unplanned tourism development;
  • Uncontrolled urban development leading to significant human population increase and pollution (water, air and visual);
  • Reduced water flows over the falls due to drought and/or upstream hydropower production.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2007
Requests approved: 5 (from 2001-2007)
Total amount approved : 93,485 USD
Missions to the property until 2007**

Joint UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission in November 2006

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

As requested by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the World Heritage Centre and IUCN conducted a monitoring mission to the property in November 2006 in cooperation with both States Parties in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The mission found that continuing developmental pressures within and adjacent to the property are adversely impacting on its values and integrity, mainly as a result of failure to implement recommendations made in the past Committee decisions for effective management.

In the reports submitted in January 2007, both States Parties identified the lack of Joint Management Framework and Joint Management Plan, as well as the lack of implementation of the recommendations of the 2002 Bi-national workshop as the main management obstacles for conservation of the property. The State Party reports and the 2006 monitoring mission confirmed that unplanned tourism development continues to affect the integrity of the property. This has also been the topic of several recent media reports.

Key issues identified by the monitoring mission and State Party reports include:

a) Unplanned tourism development

The report by the State Party of Zimbabwe has identified tourism development as a factor which affects to to the loss of wilderness and aesthetic value on the property. The report of Zambia also identified development pressures to include, specifically, the plan for a hotel and country club, and the highflier balloon in the North East of the property, 3km from the falls.

The mission raised serious concerns with Zambia about the Mosi-oa-Tunya Hotel and Country Club Estate project. The project is anticipated to not only destroy the riparian vegetation, but also interfere with the catchment function and wild animal movement, and contribute to the pollution load of the river, thus, adversely impacting on the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property. According to media reports in December 2006, Zambia has reconsidered the project due to concerns of negative impact on the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN continue to have concerns about the project and would welcome further information from the State Party as to its current status.

b) Visitor carrying capacity of the property:

Both State Party reports confirm that visitor numbers are growing and note that increasing visitor numbers is part of their policy. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN observed during the mission that high visitor rates are causing noise pollution from helicopters, microlight aircraft, and boats. In addition, aquatic wildlife is constantly disturbed by riparian activities.

The mission also noted that the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe is currently expanding the Victoria Falls Airport and the authorities anticipate increased visitor numbers, particularly with the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa. Also, the Zambian government has prioritized tourism as a key economic growth sector, as is evident from the proposed hotel and golf complex project. The expected increase in visitors necessitates the rapid establishment of a Joint Ministerial Committee so that the State Parties can incorporate management of carrying-capacity in the Joint Management Framework and Plan.

c) Ecological priorities for the Joint Management Plan:

Both the States Parties reports and the monitoring mission highlighted additional factors affecting the property that need to be addressed by the Joint Management Plan.

These include:

(i) Risk to flood-reliant riparian vegetation from low flow caused by drought and low flow that is linked to climate change and upstream water abstraction;

(ii) Fragmentation of the habitat as a result of fencing, development, deforestation and grazing, leading to increased human-wildlife conflicts, in particular by blocking elephant corridors;

(iii) Invasive plant species which are putting indigenous plant biodiversity and herbivore carrying capacity at risk. In Zambia, Lantana camara has colonised the cliff faces and palm grove;

(iv) Risk to fish biodiversity from invasive fish species;

(v) Deforestation from illegal timber extraction;

(vi) Water pollution as a result of riverbank development and increased raw sewage discharge.

d) Obstacles to management:

Zambia has identified a need to review the current legislation to provide adequate protection and management for the property because there is currently no framework at the national level which focuses on World Heritage issues. It has also identified the limited management framework as preventing monitoring and requests additional assistance to review the boundaries and to aid management of the property.

e) Progress by the States Parties and next steps

The two States Parties have joined the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area that promotes integrated river basin management. Bilateral meetings and joint operations at site level are being periodically carried out.

The Zambian State Party expects to form a national Committee on World Heritage issues by March 2007. It is also using the 1996 Strategic Environmental Assessment guidelines in the control of developments in the property and has signed a MOU between National Heritage Conservation Commission and Zambia Wildlife Authority to harmonize conservation and development imperatives in the property.

The Joint monitoring mission concludes that a series of urgent actions should be undertaken, particularly the “Development of a Joint / Integrated Management Plan for the World Heritage property”. The State party of Zimbabwe (with support from Zambia) had submitted an International assistance request to the World Heritage Centre, for an amount of USD 30,000, to implement this recommendation. The request was approved by the Chairperson in January 2007. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN sent an international consultant to liaise and support the State parties in the preparation of the Joint Integrated Management Plan for the property. The Draft management plan is expected to be finalized by May 2007, before the 31st session of the Committee. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2007
31 COM 7B.4
State of conservation of World Heritage Properties - Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2.Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.8, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3.Expresses its concern about uncontrolled urban development, unplanned tourism development, noise and water pollution, and invasive species, which continue to threaten the integrity of the property;

4.Regrets that the recommendations of the 2002 bi-lateral workshop have not yet been implemented;

5.Notes with satisfaction some progress made in the development of a Joint Integrated Management Plan and national management plans;

6.Also notes the State Party of Zambia's moratorium on some construction and tourism infrastructure projects;

7.Urges both States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to urgently implement the recommendations of the 2002 bilateral workshop and those of the 2006 monitoring mission as follows:

     a)Establishment of a Joint Ministerial Committee (including appropriate technical sub-committees) for effective transboundary coordination,

     b)Implementation of the Joint Integrated Management Plan for the World Heritage property and secure necessary approvals and funding for its implementation. All issues related to development of infrastructure, tourism facilities and services, eradication of invasive species, control of pollution and extraction of water from the Zambezi should be fully considered and addressed in the Joint Integrated Management Plan, consistent with the recommendations of the 2002 bilateral workshop,

     c)Pending action by the two States Parties on these points, there should be a complete moratorium on the construction and development of all tourism infrastructure, facilities or services within the World Heritage property,

     d)Development of a draft statement of desired state of conservation which can be assessed during the monitoring of the property's state of conservation and better address management and protection concerns;

8.Commends the State Party of Zambia for the immediate cessation of the Mosi-oa-Tunya Hotel and Country Club Estate project and the tethered balloon project;

9.Invites both States Parties to work closely with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre for development of the Joint Integrated Management Plan and for building the capacity needed for its implementation;

10.Requests both States Parties to provide to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008 detailed reports on the state of conservation of the property, including information on the potential impact of all new tourism developments, as well as progress made in implementing the Joint Integrated Management Plan and the other recommendations of the 2006 monitoring mission for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008.

Draft Decision: 31 COM 7B.4

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.8 adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3. Expresses its concern about uncontrolled urban development, unplanned tourism development, noise and water pollution, and invasive species, which continue to threaten the integrity of the property;

4. Regrets that the recommendations of the 2002 bi-lateral workshop have not yet been implemented;

5. Urges both States Parties of Zambia and Zimbabwe to urgently implement, within a definite timeframe, the recommendations of the 2002 bi-lateral workshop and those of the 2006 monitoring mission and in particular:

a) Establishment of a Joint Ministerial Committee (including appropriate technical sub-committees) for effective transboundary coordination.

b) Development of a Joint / Integrated Management Plan for the World Heritage property and secure necessary approvals and funding for its implementation. All issues related to development of infrastructure, tourism facilities and services, eradication of invasive species, control of pollution, abstraction of water from the Zambezi, etc should be fully considered and addressed in the Joint Management Plan, consistent with the recommendations of the 2002 bilateral workshop.

c) Pending action by the two States Parties on these points, there should be a complete moratorium on the construction and development of all tourism infrastructure, facilities or services within the World Heritage property.

d) In particular, the State Party of Zambia should reconsider the project under implementation to erect a tethered balloon, as it will adversely impact the visual integrity of the property, because when raised, the balloon is likely to appear within the viewing corridor of the falls, thus adversely impacting on the outstanding universal value of the property.

e) Development of specific benchmarks and indicators, with reference to the statement of significance of the property, which can be assessed during the monitoring of its state of conservation and better address management and protection concerns.

6. Also urges the State Party of Zambia to immediately halt the development of the Mosi-oa-Tunya Hotel and Country Club Estate project along the bank of the Zambezi River and within the World Heritage property, which would seriously impact its outstanding universal value and integrity. In case the development proceeds, the property will be automatically inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

7. Invites both States Parties to work closely with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre for development of the Joint / Integrated Management plan and for building the capacity needed for its implementation;

8. Requests both States Parties to provide to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008 detailed reports on the state of conservation of the property, including information on the potential impact of all new tourism developments, as well as progress made in implementing the Joint / Integrated Management Plan and the other recommendations of the 2006 monitoring mission for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in2008.

Report year: 2007
Zambia Zimbabwe
Date of Inscription: 1989
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 31COM (2007)
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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