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World Heritage Committee removes Congo’s Salonga National Park from List of World Heritage Sites in Danger due to improvements in conservation, proving such efforts really do make a difference.
DRC’s Salonga National Park removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger
On 19 July 2021, during its 44th session, the World Heritage Committee decided to remove Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger due to improvements in its state of conservation.
The decision follows a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission which took place from 23 January to 4 February 2020 in and around Salonga National Park (SNP). The information gathered by this mission showed that the state of conservation of SNP had significantly improved since the last monitoring mission in 2012.
Salonga National Park is important for the climate, for indigenous people and threatened species
Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the largest protected area of dense rainforest on the African continent. Very isolated and only accessible by water, the vast Park (33,500 sq.km/13,900 sq.mi) plays a fundamental role in climate regulation and carbon sequestration. It is home to numerous Indigenous peoples and local communities and numerous threatened species such as the bonobo, the Congo peacock, the forest elephant and the slender snouted crocodile.
THE UNESCO MISSION IN 2020 RECOGNISED THE MANAGEMENT OF THE PARK HAD IMPROVED
The SNP was inscribed to the list of Natural World Heritage Sites in 1984 based on two criteria:
It represents one of the very rare existing biotopes absolutely intact in central Africa. It comprises vast marshland areas and practically inaccessible gallery forests, which have never been explored and may still be considered as practically virgin.
The plant and animal life in SNP constitute an example of biological evolution and the adaptation of life forms in a complex equatorial rainforest environment. The large size of the Park ensures the continued possibility for evolution of both species and biotic communities within the relatively undisturbed forest.
In 1999 however, the Park was inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites in danger. At the time it was noted that SNP was reeling under anthropogenic pressures such as poaching and slash and burn agriculture paired with armed conflict and an instable political context. In recent years, planned oil drilling concessions further threatened the Park’s integrity.
Against this background, the DRC government, communities and partners have been working hard to address the threats faced by the Park and its removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The UNESCO mission in early 2020 recognised that the management of the Park had improved, since the previous mission in 2012, notably with regard to the strengthening of anti-poaching measures allowing for a stable bonobo and forest elephant population.
According to latest biomonitoring estimates, Salonga is presently home to more than 15,000 Bonobos (approx. 50% of the global population) and 1,600 forest elephants.
In June 2021, the Congolese authorities provided clarification that the oil concessions overlapping with SNP are null and void. This latest demonstration of DRC’s commitment to Salonga further contributed to the (Monday 19 July 2021) decision by the World Heritage Committee.
The world’s 2nd-biggest rainforest is no longer under threat The world’s second-largest rainforest is no longer endangered. We're not out of the forest just yet though. Find out why there's still work to be done to stop deforestation. Source: Facebook/WorldEconomicForum
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