Congo plans to safeguard biodiversity with new protected areas

02/19/04

The Republic of Congo announced today plans to expand its protected area network for the purpose of further conserving the region's immense biodiversity, one of the key goals of the 7th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-7). As a delegate at the conference, Congo's Minister of Forestry Economy Henri Djombo announced that his country will officially gazette the Bambama-Lékana National Park, a unique and spectacular mosaic of rolling savanna and gallery forest inhabited by elephants, chimpanzees, lions, and other savanna/forest wildlife, along with plans to expand marine reserves along the coast and create new protected areas along the southern border.

"Once again, the government of Congo is leading the way in conserving the natural heritage of Central Africa," said James Deutsch, Africa Program Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which is an active partner with the Congo government on a number of conservation activities. "These new areas will augment the existing network--already an estimated 11 percent of the country's landmass--which will also benefit from new initiatives to improve conservation efforts nationwide."

In addition to Bambama-Lékana, which will form a trans-boundary protected area with Bateke Plateau National Park in Gabon, the Congo government plans to connect the protected areas of Conkouati-Douli National Park in Congo and Mayumba National Park in Gabon to protect the globally important beaches, swamps, and coastal forests of Congo's coastline, including some of the most important sea turtle nesting areas in the world. To the south, the government envisions the creation of a trans-boundary protected area along the borders of Angola and DRC.

With support from WCS, the Republic of Congo has also launched an evaluation program for the country's protected areas, with an emphasis on assessing gaps between parks. Additionally, the Congo government will create a national service for protected area and wildlife management.

WCS has been assisting the Republic of Congo in its conservation efforts since 1990, helping to establish protected areas such as the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, and the Goualogo Triangle conservation area. In addition to assisting the government with protected area network management initiatives, WCS has helped in the development of wildlife conservation in timber concessions, and the promotion of community-based natural resource management in the Lac Tele Community Reserve.

The Republic of Congo and the Wildlife Conservation Society are also part of an international group called the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), an initiative including governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, all committed to conserving the forests of the Congo Basin while promoting sustainable economic and social development in the region.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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