Central Africa World Heritage Forest Initiative (CAWHFI)

© UNESCO/ Redmond, Ian

This initiative is a result of a consultation between the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and its partners. The global project is funded by the European Union, the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the French Global Environmental Fund. It promotes the recognition of the Congo Basin as an outstanding site.

It contains the largest tropical forest area after the Amazonian Basin. It shelters an extremely rich biological diversity which is currently threatened by intense traffic of bush meat. This hunting, non-selective and illegal, destroys the biodiversity of these ecosystems. Although the governments recognize the danger, the park authorities face financial constraints.

Three various ecological landscapes are protected: The Tri-National Sangha (TNS), the Tri-National Dja-Odzala-Minkebe (TriDOM), and the Gamba-Mayumba-Conkouati. Shared by Cameroon, Congo, Gabon and Central African Republic, they include 12 protected areas and the surroundings represent in total over 230 000 km2.  

The aim of the programme is to improve the sustainable management of these ecological landscapes, including protected areas that could be proposed as World Heritage sites.

Contribution of the European Union  

  • Sustainable/reasonable management of the teritory, responding to the expectations of the governments, regions and other institutions;
  • Standardized monitoring of the forest fauna in order to improve the management;
  • Agreements with private sector, NGOs and competent public services to ensure a long-term management of natural resources, in particular the fauna, and thus to achieve the objectives of sustainable development.

© UNESCO/ Chris Wilks

Raising awareness about World Heritage

This project also enhances consolidated initiatives for the preservation and sustainable development of the landscapes, species and population of the Congo Basin. It promotes the sites in Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic and Congo in order to make them eligible for a possible inscription on the World Heritage List.  

Concerned authorities and communities are aware of the added value of the inscription on the World Heritage List. UNESCO provides them with assistance, especially in the preparatory work for the inscription of priority sites.  

One of the most outstanding sites that have been identified is the Tri National of Sangha (TNS), a cross-border site shared by Cameroon, Central African Republic and Congo. In addition, an annual grant for the implementation of transboundary agreements is allocated to the foundation of the TNS, which must demonstrate strong management capabilities. To improve management effectiveness, the project foresees the development of monitoring tools and management standards adapted to regional forest and the education of agents.  

Contribution of the United Nations

CAWHFI's first component financed by the United Nations focus on improving the management of 3 areas and involving effectively the stake holders concerned, notably to reduce the poaching pressure affecting them.  

The programme is co-financed with 50 % by the UNF and it draws the other half of the funds from the direct contribution of the NGOs responsible for the implementation of the programme. To date, WWF and WCS share the provision of technical assistance in different sites.  

© UNESCO/ Bedel, Enurep

The aim is to establish a solid structural and functional basis for planning and management of the the protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The expected results are as follows:

  • Establishing of a political, legal, institutional, financial and social environment that would enhance the preservation of protected sites;
  • Setting up and updating the legislative framework, the procedures and the information systems;
  • Creating a National Environmental Fund;
  • Restructuring the Congo Institute for Natural Preservation and decentralizing the management of the sites;
  • Developing a national planning and management system.  

The evaluation of the Sangha Tri-National Park carried out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommends the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List. The report is available on the following link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/36COM/documents/  (document 8B). The nomination file will be examined at the forthcoming session of the World Heritage Committee to be held from 24 June to 6 July 2012 in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation.

Back to top