Serious Advice on World Heritage Sites in Liberia

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Months ago, during a five-day world heritage workshop on the preparation of Liberia’s tentative listing to be submitted to the United Nation Educational, Scientific Organization (UNESCO), which is the first step to apply for nomination dossier; World Heritage expert Pascal Taruvinga urged government to go back and review its tentative list (all other potential sites in the county), and develop a strategic management plan for each before applying for nomination.

While Providence Island and East Nimba Reserve were given a little bit of green light, sites like Kpatawe Waterfall and Lake Piso were put on hold due to poor research done on the sites to know their core areas, endangered species and biodiversity.

Blunt with the Liberian government, Pascal warned that if further research cannot be done on the entire site to ascertain its outstanding universal value, it will make it difficult to be accepted event if it is on the nomination dossier.

“I will advise that you people go back and look at other sites before preparing your nomination dossier. You still have time in you favor; it will not sound right to have spend a good bit of money without getting the result that is needed. From the look of things, more work needs to be done to meet the outstanding universal value,” Pascal urged the government.

Not only frustrated by poor research, Pascal was frustrated with the lack of a management plan for Kpatawe Waterfall and Providence Island, which is a key to the preservation of sites in the country.

Again Pascal recommend that there be a wide range of participation from stakeholders including site managers, local and regional governments, communities that host the sites, “because this is about the country and all have to agree on the development of these sites in order to avoid problems in the future.”

With the exception of East Nimba Reserve, which is under the concession control of ArcelorMittal Liberia, all other sites lack a detailed plan on how the property is protected and will be managed if it will be accepted for inscription.

He said: “You need to have every party involved when you are trying to prepare a tentative listing, most especially the local community, who will have to wave certain rights. The involvements of all these parties help you to develop a long time management plan and a commitment to protect the site, no matter what happens.

“I do not want a situation for you where when one or two sites are being considered, we have people not satisfied and trying to engage some legal means to stop the process; so the sooner the better,” Pascal added.

On Mount Nimba, Pascal said while it is a protective area rich in biodiversity, with its own unique species, “the problem here is it lies in the concession area of a mining company, which makes it a little bit difficult to be listed as a World Heritage Site unless government and all parties can get a written agreement from the mining company that they will work in compliance with conservative policies as outlined in the country, in spite of the area being very rich in iron ore.”

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