Hit Enter to search or Esc key to close

Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains Off UNESCO’S Danger List

Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains Off UNESCO’S Danger List


The Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda) was removed from UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger yesterday. The World Heritage Committee adopted the decision at its 28th session in Suzhou, China, following the recommendation made by IUCN The World Conservation Union, the advisory body on natural heritage to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The Rwenzori Mountains are the most reliable water source of the River Nile and one of Africa s most beautiful mountain areas. The Park s rich and unusual wildlife comprises over a quarter of Uganda s known bird species, globally threatened species of elephants and chimpanzees, and floristic wonders such as the giant heather.

The Rwenzori Mountains National Park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 1999, it was listed as World Heritage in Danger because of civil unrest, lack of funding, subsequent poaching and encroachment. Rebels used the park as a hiding place, launching attacks on communities and institutions around the Park. Due to lack of resources, the few remaining rangers were unable to control illegal activities such as pit sawing and encroachment. IUCN recommended danger listing in order to raise awareness and increase international support. Currently, 16 natural sites and one mixed property are on the World Heritage in Danger List.

Since then, the security situation on the ground has improved. The park management has regained full control of the property, management facilities have been deployed in the park, and tourism activity has peaked up again. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has, in collaboration with other stakeholders including IUCN, prepared a 10 year management plan for the Park. The plan emphasizes a combined approach of conservation and socio-economic development including tourism development.

Consequently, IUCN recommended removing the property from the list of World Heritage in Danger, following an IUCN/UNESCO monitoring mission to the Rwenzori Mountains in 2003. The Uganda Wildlife Authority submitted a report in January 2004 addressing recommendations of the 2003 mission.

At the 28th session of the World Heritage Committee, the Rwenzori Mountains National Park generated many positive reactions from State Parties about the World Heritage Convention and its mechanisms such as the danger list. The State Party of Lebanon pointed out that listing a World Heritage Site as in danger should be seen as positive because of the international conservation effort it evokes. Benin and Nigeria congratulated the Ugandan State Party on its work.

According to David Sheppard, Head of IUCN Programme on Protected Areas, who also leads the IUCN delegation at the Committee Meeting, the development of Rwenzori Mountains National Park represents a major achievement of the government of Uganda s efforts and commitment to safeguard this site, efforts that have been supported by international institutions such as IUCN, WWF and the USAID. It is a success story on the use of the World Heritage Convention as a mechanism to promote international cooperation to protect humankind heritage. It is also an exemplary case on the positive role that danger listing can have to promote international assistance to support the efforts of governments, NGO s and local people committed to the conservation of World Heritage sites.