Campaign win: World Heritage Committee upholds most protections for Selous Game Reserve economy and environment | WWF

Campaign win: World Heritage Committee upholds most protections for Selous Game Reserve economy and environment

Posted on 06 July 2017
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.
© Greg Armfield
Krakow, Poland - Over a million people’s livelihoods and the outstanding wildlife of Selous Game Reserve now face a reduced threat of industrial activities, following latest discussions about its future at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in Krakow this week.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee commended the Tanzanian government on their anti-poaching efforts and welcomed their continued commitment to increase elephant population numbers within Selous.

However, while Tanzania’s work to safeguard Selous’ elephants are to be applauded, the government is also pushing forward with plans that threaten the Selous.

Noting that proposed developments could wipe out vast areas of the World Heritage site, the committee has requested that Tanzania prepare a comprehensive strategic environmental assessment regarding the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge dam, and requested that they consider other options for power generation.

One of the last great African wildernesses, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is home to globally important populations of elephants, lions, hippos and African wild dogs. It has a huge opportunity for sustainable development, through tourism and other means which avoid large scale damage. However, industrial scale poaching, as well as other unsustainable industrial activities, can negatively affect livelihoods and the outstanding value of the area, and fears are growing for the future of this World Heritage Site.

Dr Colman O’Criodain, WWF Wildlife Policy Manager, said “We want Tanzania and the Selous Game Reserve to develop, but sustainably, without risking the outstanding value of the site. We are working with the government, and its heartening to see a fall in poaching.

“However, a number of oil and gas concessions have been issued for Selous and there are other industrial scale activities proposed in the Reserve that would impact the spaces elephants and wildlife need to live.

“We are calling for the government to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment on the Larger Selous Ecosystem to ensure all wider impacts are identified and considered before any decisions are made. Such an assessment should include evaluations of the alternatives.”

In 2014, UNESCO placed Selous on its List of World Heritage in Danger due to the severity of elephant poaching. WWF is calling for greater effort in combatting wildlife crime, an assessment of the impacts of proposed industrial activities, investment in sustainable tourism infrastructure, and an equitable distribution of benefits to nearby communities.

Aslihan Tumer, head of campaigns at WWF International, said “This issue is not an issue unique to Tanzania. Nearly half of all World Heritage sites worldwide are seeing ongoing pressure from large-scale, and potentially harmful, industrialization, in-spite of the clear economic and social value these properties provide locally, nationally and globally. We encourage the committee to be consistent in protecting the future capacity of all these sites to continue providing outstanding universal value to all humanity”.

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For more information, please contact:
Scott Edwards | WWF International | | +44 7887 954116

Notes to Editors:
Images are available here.

See WWF’s earlier statement on this World Heritage site, released last week.
Read WWF’s statement from the UNESCO meeting relating to Donana National Park.

A WWF report “Protecting people through nature: places of world natural heritage as a driver of sustainable development” published last year as part of the Saving Our Shared Heritage campaign showed that nearly half of the world's natural heritage sites are endangered by harmful industrial activities.

The draft decision relating to Białowieża Forest is to be considered at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee in Poland on Wednesday 5 July can be found here.
Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania.
© Greg Armfield Enlarge
The Selous World Heritage site has lost 90% of its elephants to ivory poaching syndicates.
© WWF / Gary Roberts / Almay Stock Photo Enlarge

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