The EU has committed €20 million to protect forests, support biodiversity conservation, and combat illegal wildlife trafficking in the Congo Basin.
During the 18th Meeting of the Parties of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) in Brussels, the EU signed four projects for the benefit of countries situated in the Congo Basin: Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon and Gabon. The projects address charcoal trafficking in Virunga National Park and the protection of Lake Edward in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the protection of the Dzanga Sangha Park in Central African Republic and the fight against wildlife and forest crime in the region. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: ”The EU is and remains strongly committed to conserving biodiversity, as well as combating illegal wildlife trafficking and tackling deforestation in the Congo Basin. The four new EU projects, with additional funding of €20 million, will bring economic benefits to local populations while protecting a unique ecosystem.”
A fifth contract will be signed in the coming days on landscape management between the DRC and the CAR. The project will also enhance conservation, security and development and enhance the support for refugees.
The Congo Basin is the second biggest forest basin in the world and it is still less affected by deforestation than the Amazon. It contributes to biodiversity conservation and mitigates the effects of climate change. It also provides a living to around 60 million people in Central Africa and has a strong potential in terms of job creation.
The Congo Basin Forest Partnership is a unique platform where all parties involved, including governments, international organisations, NGOs, and the private sector, can meet to exchange and find solutions for the benefit of populations in the region. Sustainable ecosystem management depends on a combination of high-level political dialogue for effective decision-making and the implementation of targeted projects, which need to involve the public and private sector, civil society and local communities.
The four financing agreements signed are:
- Strengthening the capacity of civil society to combat wildlife crime in Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Gabon. (‘Renforcement de l’Application de la Loi sur la Faune et la Flore en Afrique centrale, République du Congo, République centrafricaine, Cameroun et Gabon’). Implementing partner: Conservation Justice, 2018-2022. The aim of the project is to strengthen coordination in the fight against wildlife trafficking between authorities, civil society organisations and local communities
- Supporting development and protecting wildlife in the Dzanga Sangha protected area network in south-west Central African Republic, for the benefit of indigenous populations and to help restore peace to the region. (‘4P pour Dzanga Sangha: Peuples autochtones, Paix, Prospérité, Préservation’, République centrafricaine). Implementing partner: WWF, 2018-2021. The Dzanga-Sangha network of protected areas covers an area of over 4500 km2 and is home to significant populations of Africa’s large emblematic species. The project will aim to bring economic benefits to all local populations, and contribute to long-term peace in the region
- Combating illegal forest exploitation through law enforcement and the provision of alternative employment opportunities, working with local communities in and around Virunga Park, DR Congo. (‘Combattre l’exploitation illégale de la forêt par l’application de la loi et la création d’alternatives économiques durables en collaboration avec les communautés locales dans et autour du parc de Virunga’, RDC). Implementing partner: Virunga Foundation, 2018-2020.
Virunga National Park, in the Nord Kivu Province of Democratic Republic of Congo on the border with Rwanda and Uganda, is characterised by its remarkably high ecological value, extreme poverty among the populations living in and around the park, and regional conflicts (armed groups). The project will aim to strengthen the security capacity of the park to combat deforestation, and to develop alternative economic opportunities for the local population.
- Integrating the management of natural resources, biodiversity and security in and around Lake Edward, DRC, to combat informal and illegal exploitation and safeguard fish stocks and large fauna (‘Complexe lac Édouard (CLÉ) – Gestion intégrée des ressources naturelles renouvelables, de la biodiversité et des questions de sécurité dans la périphérie du lac Édouard en RDC’). Implementing partner: Virunga Foundation, 2018-2022.
This project aims to establish formal and sustainable economic alternatives to replace the current informal and illegal natural resource extraction and agricultural expansion that has depleted the lake's fish stocks and wildlife populations, at enormous cost to populations living around the lake. It will strengthen law enforcement and revive sustainable value chains for fisheries and eco-tourism.