28.01.2009

Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel supports nature conservation areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel supports the expansion of a nationwide nature conservation network in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo intends to designate 13 to 15 million hectares of its rainforest areas as protected areas. This is about 15 percent of its overall territory. With an initial amount of Euro 1.1 million from its climate protection initiative the Federal Environment Ministry will promote the establishment of the first protected area in the western part of the Congo. With this project the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the German Environment Ministry's first partners in the international "Life Web" initiative launched by Federal Environment Minister Gabriel in Bonn last year at the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

With approx. 1 million square kilometres the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds the largest share of the central African Congo basin forests. These forests constitute the second largest rainforest area in the world with a unique biological diversity ranging from gorillas to the rare forest giraffes, the okapis. These forests are also the basis of life for millions of people and they constitute a huge natural carbon sink, the conservation of which is of international interest in the context of climate change.

In addition to fighting illegal logging, the introduction of sustainable management principles and of a management approach for protected areas of forests with a host of biodiversity are vital for the conservation of such important forest areas and their biological diversity. Currently 9 percent of the Congolese territory is subject to nature conservation. This corresponds to an area of 220,000 square kilometres. The Congolese government intends to expand the area under conservation by up to 15 million hectares (150,000 square kilometres) to 15 percent of the overall territory. The KfW development bank and the WWF Germany foundation are partners of the Federal Environment Ministry in the agreed project.


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