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Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Democratic Republic of the Congo
Factors affecting the property in 2023*
  • Civil unrest
  • Commercial hunting
  • Illegal activities
  • Land conversion
  • Mining
  • War
  • Other Threats:

    Villages in the ecological corridor between the highland and lowland sectors of the park

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Presence of armed groups, lack of security and political instability rendering a large part of the property inaccessible to the guards
  • Attribution of mining permits inside the property (issue resolved)
  • Poaching by armed military groups
  • Bush meat hunting
  • Villages in the ecological corridor between the highland and lowland sectors of the park
  • Illegal mining and deforestation
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Adverse refugee impact
  • Intermittent presence of armed militias and settlers at the property
  • Increased poaching
  • Deforestation 
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

A draft was developed during the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents), but the biological indicators still need to be quantified based on the results of a census of large mammals available at late 2018.

Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted in 2017, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6954

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents/

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2023

Total amount granted: USD 1,003,900 from the United Nations Foundation (UNF), and the Governments of Italy and Belgium, and by the Rapid Response Facility (RRF), USD 300,000 from the Government of Norway (2021-2022)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2023
Requests approved: 9 (from 1980-2021)
Total amount approved : 170,025 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 8 April 2022, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/137/documents/ and reporting the following:

  • Ongoing collaboration between the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC), state services and local population has resulted in a positive lull in insecurity. From 2018-2021, four warlords and their accomplices were arrested and 50 of the 54 armed groups operating in and around the property evacuated. The remaining four are in the process of joining the disarmament programme;
  • In 2021, no artisanal mining sites were active in the property. Of the 24 mining sites identified, 19 were abandoned and 5 active sites were closed during surveillance patrols;
  • One case of baby chimpanzee trafficking was observed in the Kasese sector. The trafficker was arrested and transferred to the legal authorities. Activities to strengthen measures to combat wildlife trafficking included strengthening intelligence teams to record real time information on poaching and great ape trafficking, community awareness raising on conservation laws and regulations, and capacity building. With the relative lull in the property,, an increase in the gorilla population in the high-altitude sector was recorded from 168 individuals in 2020 to 174 in 2021;
  • Surveys of 61% of the property show significant populations of key species remain present in the property, with estimates for gorillas (1,775 individuals) and chimpanzees (2,987 individuals);
  • In 2021, anti-poaching and law enforcement efforts included 2,099 patrols covering 10,034 km, three joint ICCN-PNKB/FARDC patrols at high altitude (Tshivanga sector) aimed at removing all armed groups in the Lemera-Katasomwa axis, and arrest, prosecution and sentencing of poachers and rebels;
  • Capacity building for eco-guards continued on matters including human rights and field data collection, and the deployment of well-equipped teams in all stations of the property;
  • A rehabilitation plan has been developed for the ecological corridor between the highland and lowland sectors of the property, including an evaluation system with indicators and a proposed budget. Actions to address encroachment include the regular involvement of government and local communities including the Batwa in decision-making meetings, as well as capacity building, the continuation of participatory demarcation of park boundaries, strengthening surveillance patrols, law enforcement, and strengthening of sensitization and awareness-raising activities for local communities;
  • In 2021, surveillance patrols covered 61% of the property, meeting the minimum 60% area threshold in the corrective measures;
  • Support for the socio-economic development of local communities included farming, microcredit and agriculture, but could only be implemented around the highland sector due to funding limitations;
  • Actions to implement the 2019 Bukavu Dialogue with the indigenous Batwa community included increased support for schooling; the identification, mapping and securing of land for the Batwa; mapping of villages bordering the property; establishment of a consultation framework between IPs, ICCN, state services, local NGOs, traditional chiefs and local leaders to monitor the implementation of the Dialogue roadmap; COVID-19 related food support; and valorization of Batwa culture;
  • The participatory demarcation of the boundaries was carried out in Kasirusiru-Tshivanga at the highland sector. An International Assistance grant from the World Heritage Fund was provided to map the villages inside the Nzovu and Mumbili sectors in low altitude to evaluate the human presence in these sectors of the property;
  • Regarding sustainable financing, a study is in progress on the valuation of ecosystem services, as well as strengthening marketing of the property to engage new donors and partners.

In April 2022, the World Heritage Centre received two third-party reports by NGO Minority Rights Group (MRG) regarding alleged human rights abuses towards the Batwa community including by ICCN and FARDC staff. On 22 April 2022, the World Heritage Centre transmitted the information to the State Party. On 1 June 2022, the State Party transmitted a summary report of findings and recommendations of a “Commission of Inquiry into alleged violations by ICCN staff at Kahuzi-Biega National Park” established by the ICCN Director General in response to the allegations and composed of technical ICCN staff, coordinated by the Director in charge of human rights, key conservation partners in South Kivu, the principal author of the MRG report, and an independent human rights expert responsible for ensuring that the Commission's work complied with human rights standards. The report conclusions document a number of incidents but does not confirm the alleged systematic use of violence towards the indigenous Batwa.

In May 2023, the World Heritage Centre received an information regarding the death of an ecoguard in an armed confrontation in the property.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2023

It is encouraging that the on-going collaboration between ICCN, FARDC and local population and authorities is reported to have maintained the lull in the security situation, that the majority of armed groups operating in or around the property have been removed and that surveillance coverage has again met the 60% area threshold of the corrective measures. The on-going patrol coverage and closure of remaining active artisanal mining sites constitutes a positive step towards effectively managing the mining threat in the property in the longer term. The delineation of the property boundaries has continued, although no detailed information is provided to evaluate to what extent this corrective measure has been completed.

Regarding efforts to address encroachment, the development of a rehabilitation plan for the ecological corridor following its evacuation in recent years is positive. Whilst no information regarding the impacts of encroachment on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property was provided, it is recommended that the rehabilitation plan be finalised and implemented as soon as possible in full consultation with relevant stakeholders. The reported workshops, capacity building and regular involvement of all relevant stakeholders in government processes are also noted. Positive progress continues and all efforts should be continued to complete the corrective measures.. Whilst noting the brief update of wildlife data, it is recalled that the wildlife inventory data completed in 2018 is crucial for the evaluation of the OUV of the property and to finalize the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). Therefore, recalling Decisions 42 COM 7A.48, 43 COM 7A.8 and 44 COM 7A.43, the Committee should request the State Party to prepare DSOCR indicators based on this information, in order to finalize the DSOCR based on the draft proposed by the 2017 mission as soon as possible, and set out the actions needed to achieve the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. It is important to make clear that the quoted population number for Grauer’s gorilla remains extremely low, as the population was estimated to be close to 10,000 individuals before the inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The allegations of human rights abuses by ICCN staff and FARDC soldiers towards indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC) during law enforcement operations are of utmost concern despite the reported training of rangers on human rights.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also note the recommendations of the “Commission of Inquiry into alleged violations by ICCN staff at Kahuzi-Biega National Park”, including recommendation at site level, the need to identify and sanction the perpetrators of the confirmed violent incidents, to establish a joint and independent human rights monitoring and protection unit in the property, to ensure a full application of human rights and strengthen the cooperation with civil society organisations working on human rights, the organizations of indigenous communities as well as local authorities, and at the level of ICCN to develop clearer rules of engagement for surveillance operations and guidance on the application and enforcement of human rights. In this regard, Decision 44 COM 7A.46 is also recalled, and it is recommended the State Party, together with its donors and implementation partners, be requested to urgently implement strong and effective measures to ensure that the rights of IPLCs are fully respected in all management decisions. This includes the establishment and implementation of a code of conduct, provision of training on human rights issues for all patrol units including appropriate law enforcement techniques regarding the use of force and firearms, and to ensure law enforcement operations are conducted in a way that fully respects the rights of IPLCs in line with relevant international norms and supported by fully transparent governance and effective procedures to ensure implementation and accountability. See also the DRC General Decision under Item 7A.9.

The reported progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2019 Bukavu Dialogue to address relations with the Batwa indigenous communities is encouraging. However, it is noted that serious concerns continue to be raised by IPLCs, including by the Batwa regarding a lack of consultation on the aforementioned Commission and requesting the urgent establishment of a joint commission to address land allocation. The implementation should therefore remain a matter of priority.

It is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger and continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2023
45 COM 7A.6
Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 137)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 42 COM 7A.48, 43 COM 7A.8, 44 COM 7A.43 and 44 COM 7A.46 adopted at its 42nd (Bahrain, 2018), 43rd (Baku, 2019) and extended 44th (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions respectively,
  3. Deplores the continued violence and further loss of life of protected area staff killed in the line of duty, and offers its most sincere condolences to their families and to all the staff of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN);
  4. Welcomes the continued improvement in the security situation and that the ongoing collaboration between the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and local population and authorities has resulted in the removal of the majority of armed groups operating within and in the vicinity of the property;
  5. Notes with significant concern the new and continuing allegations of serious human rights violations towards indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) linked to law enforcement operations and also takes note of the findings of the “Commission of Inquiry into alleged violations by ICCN staff at Kahuzi-Biega National Park” set up by the State Party to investigate the raised issues;
  6. Requests the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the report of the Commission of Inquiry, as well as any additional measures necessary to further ensure all conservation activities fully respect human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including by, but not limited to, establishing a national code of conduct for eco-guards and an effective and transparent grievance mechanism for human rights abuses, and by training all law enforcement staff on human rights issues, as well as ensuring an equitably governed consultative process with participation and decision making of all rightsholders and stakeholders, consistent with relevant international norms and the Policy on the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into World Heritage Processes(2015);
  7. Welcomes the reported progress on the implementation of the 2019 Bukavu Dialogue recommendations, and urges the State Party to accelerate the continued implementation of the Dialogue recommendations in full consultation with all relevant stakeholders;
  8. Notes with appreciation the continued progress towards achieving the corrective measures for the property including maintaining patrol coverage of the property and addressing artisanal mining and poaching, and requests the State Party to expeditiously implement all corrective measures as updated by the 2017 mission;
  9. Recalling its concern regarding the increased pressure of encroachment on the property, notes with appreciation that a rehabilitation plan for the ecological corridor has been developed and requests the State Party to submit further details of the plan, and to ensure its implementation takes into consideration any impacts of encroachment on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and actions required to ensure the recovery and regeneration of natural vegetation, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders;
  10. Recalling the importance of wildlife to the OUV of the property, remains concerned about the low populations of key wildlife species, in particular the population of Grauer’s gorilla, compared to the time of inscription and reiterates its requests to the State Party to submit the results of the 2018 or more recent wildlife inventory to the World Heritage Centre, and to finalize, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, indicators for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) based on the draft proposed by the 2017 mission and on the wildlife data;
  11. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, 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;
  12. Decides to continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  13. Also decides to retain Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
45 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/23/45.COM/7A, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add.3, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add.4),
  2. Having examined the recommendations of the Advisory Bodies, decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 45 COM 7A.51)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 45 COM 7A.52)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 45 COM 7A.55)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 45 COM 7A.18)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 45 COM 7A.3)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 45 COM 7A.4)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 45 COM 7A.5)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 45 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 45 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 45 COM 7A.8)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 45 COM 7A.26)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 45 COM 7A.1)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 45 COM 7A.15)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 45 COM 7A.27)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 45 COM 7A.28)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 45 COM 7A.29)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 45 COM 7A.31)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 45 COM 7A.10)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 45 COM 7A.33)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 45 COM 7A.34)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 45 COM 7A.35)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 45 COM 7A.36)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 45 COM 7A.37)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 45 COM 7A.11)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 45 COM 7A.22)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 45 COM 7A.23)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 45 COM 7A.24)
  • Mexico, Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Decision 45 COM 7A.2)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 45 COM 7A.53)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 45 COM 7A.12)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 45 COM 7A.39)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 45 COM 7A.38)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 45 COM 7A.19)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 45 COM 7A.20)
  • Romania, Roșia Montană Mining Landscape (Decision 45 COM 7A.56)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 45 COM 7A.13)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 45 COM 7A.57)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 45 COM 7A.16)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 45 COM 7A.40)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 45 COM 7A.41)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 45 COM 7A.42)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 45 COM 7A.43)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 45COM 7A.44)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 45 COM 7A.45)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 45 COM 7A.14)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 45 COM 7A.17)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 45 COM 7A.54)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 45 COM 7A.21)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 45 COM 7A.47)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 45 COM 7A.49)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 45 COM 7A.50)
3.    Recalls that the following properties were inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 18th extraordinary session (UNESCO, 2023):
  • Lebanon, Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli (Decision 18 EXT.COM 5.1)
  • Ukraine, The Historic Centre of Odesa (Decision 18 EXT.COM 5.2)
  • Yemen, Landmarks of the Ancient Kingdom of Saba, Marib (Decision 18 EXT.COM 5.3)
Draft Decision: 45 COM 7A.6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 42 COM 7A.48, 43 COM 7A.8, 44 COM 7A.43 and 44 COM 7A.46 adopted at its 42nd (Bahrain, 2018), 43rd (Baku, 2019) and extended 44th (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions respectively,
  3. Deplores the continued violence and further loss of life of protected area staff killed in the line of duty, and offers its most sincere condolences to their families and to all the staff of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN);
  4. Welcomes the continued improvement in the security situation and that the ongoing collaboration between the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and local population and authorities has resulted in the removal of the majority of armed groups operating within and in the vicinity of the property;
  5. Notes with significant concern the new and continuing allegations of serious human rights violations towards indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) linked to law enforcement operations and also takes note of the findings of the “Commission of Inquiry into alleged violations by ICCN staff at Kahuzi-Biega National Park” set up by the State Party to investigate the raised issues;
  6. Requests the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the report of the Commission of Inquiry, as well as any additional measures necessary to further ensure all conservation activities fully respect human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including by, but not limited to, establishing a national code of conduct for eco-guards and an effective and transparent grievance mechanism for human rights abuses, and by training all law enforcement staff on human rights issues, as well as ensuring an equitably governed consultative process with participation and decision making of all rightsholders and stakeholders, consistent with relevant international norms and the Policy on the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into World Heritage Processes(2015);
  7. Welcomes the reported progress on the implementation of the 2019 Bukavu Dialogue recommendations, and urges the State Party to accelerate the continued implementation of the Dialogue recommendations in full consultation with all relevant stakeholders;
  8. Notes with appreciation the continued progress towards achieving the corrective measures for the property including maintaining patrol coverage of the property and addressing artisanal mining and poaching, and requests the State Party to expeditiously implement all corrective measures as updated by the 2017 mission;
  9. Recalling its concern regarding the increased pressure of encroachment on the property, notes with appreciation that a rehabilitation plan for the ecological corridor has been developed and requests the State Party to submit further details of the plan, and to ensure its implementation takes into consideration any impacts of encroachment on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and actions required to ensure the recovery and regeneration of natural vegetation, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders;
  10. Recalling the importance of wildlife to the OUV of the property, remains concerned about the low populations of key wildlife species, in particular the population of Grauer’s gorilla, compared to the time of inscription and reiterates its requests to the State Party to submit the results of the 2018 or more recent wildlife inventory to the World Heritage Centre, and to finalize, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, indicators for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) based on the draft proposed by the 2017 mission and on the wildlife data;
  11. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, 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;
  12. Decides to continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  13. Also decides to retain Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2023
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Natural
Criteria: (x)
Danger List (dates): 1997-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2022) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2022
arrow_circle_right 45COM (2023)
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.