Earth Journalism Network- Congo Basin Parks on the Precipice?

 

 

Preliminary evidence from an ongoing study by Rainforest Foundation UK(RFUK) suggest Congo Basin protected areas may not be contributing to improvements of livelihoods nor biodiversity as expected.

“In our experience, protected areas damage local livelihoods,” says Simon Counsell, Executive Director of RFUK.

 

From a sample of 34 protected areas analyzed in the study, RFUK found the following:

  • A total of 25 protected areas have reported displacements and/or relocation of local and indigenous communities (with a possible additional 6 areas for which no data was available on this)

 

  • 9 oil concessions inside these protected areas, and three additional concessions just on the border

 

  • 25 areas with logging concessions on their borders, three logging concessions overlapping one reserve

 

  • 12 protected areas have reported conflicts between local communities and park managers (with a possible additional 8 protected areas for which no data was available on this)

 

  • 19 had mining concessions inside the area, with an additional 17 concessions on the border

 

The real impact of protected areas on local communities and conservation is an unsettled issue for conservation actors in the Central African region. Evidence from different sources has swayed discussions in different directions over the years.

 

But recently, there has been a near consensus to change the direction from the perspective of governance, management and financing. At the heart of this shift is an emphasis on engagement of local communities in the decision making process of their customary land.

 

“The conservation model of protected areas practiced almost universally in the Congo Basin is one of exclusion of people,” argues RFUK Simon Counsell. Pointing to the Tumba Lediima Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the RFUK Executive Director says efforts by ecoguards to suppress traditional livelihoods activities have resulted in multiple human right abuses.

 

“The Congo Basin forest is not a ‘wilderness’, the vast majority of it has long been occupied and is now claimed under comprehensive customary tenure systems.”

 

“Working with local communities can bring ‘win-win’ benefits, as they understand the forest and its fauna well and can provide real protection against intruders and commercial poachers if provided with the right incentives (including increased tenure security). Harassment or eviction by ecoguards, in the other hand, can cause long-term animosities and turn potential allies of conservation against it” concludes Counsell.

 

In June 2015, key stakeholders involved in the management of protected areas in Central Africa met in Yaoundé at the 5th iteration of protected areas Open Days where they broadly discuss sustainable solutions to manage and finance parks in Central Africa. This event held on the sidelines of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) conference, an initiative of major stakeholders managing the Basin.

It emerged that participation of local communities in the management of protected areas remains an unsettled issue.

 

Despite some successes recorded, the final report of the talks concludes that local communities still feel largely marginalized from day-to-day management. Parties including governments, civil society, and businesses called for greater clarity of roles and responsibilities of various actors in the management process.

 

Quantity versus Quality

From a quantitative perspective, the good news is that Congo Basin protected areas have actually experienced an overall increase in size in areas formally designated as protected parks. But this increase has not necessarily translated into improved conservation of biodiversity and protection of peoples’ livelihoods as desired.

 

RUFK research shows that most protected areas in the region seem to rather tolerate or accommodate more destructive activities such as industrial-scale logging or mining within or on their boundaries. “This is having demonstrable impacts on the region’s fauna. These are all indications that the current model of protected areas is failing,” argues Counsell.

 

Under-funding Remains Critical

Across the region, many have continued to argue that the present network of protected areas is not enough to meet local, regional and international biodiversity targets. And as a result, governments are encouraged to create more protected areas. But the reality here is that creation of parks in the Congo Basin has not always been matched with commensurate financial investment required for effective and efficient management.

 

While some public private partnerships initiatives have considerable increased resources for management of parks, overall, funding is still short to meet expected goals. The June 2015 Yaounde meeting of parties managing parks also discussed and suggested sustainable and innovative funding approaches.

 

For example, there was a call to create trust funds for protected areas as a complimentary source of funding to what is allocated by states. Additional suggestions included the creation of a steering committee including interested Ambassadors to promote protected areas projects at the sub regional and international levels as well as leveraging potential sources of funds such as compensations from mining activities and construction of major dams.

 

It is unclear if these sources proposed at the Yaoundé meeting are enough to handle increasing complex challenges of managing protected areas in Central Africa. While most actors would like to see local governments invest more in these parks, competing economic priorities especially the urgent need to lift populations out of excruciating poverty makes this even harder for the nations of the region.

 

For more informations, please consult: Here

 

Go back

CBFP News

Countries gather for landmark GEF Council meeting

New impact programs at heart of largest-ever proposed work program. Delegates are arriving in Washington DC for one of the most important Council meetings in the history of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It is expected to mark a pioneering shift of emphasis for the organization that was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

Read more …

Unenvironment-Sweeping the Bush, protecting the land - The women quashing poaching

The black mamba is the most venomous snake in sub-Saharan Africa. One bite can kill a person in just a few hours. It is also the namesake of the all-female anti-poaching unit that operates in the 56,000-acre private Balule Nature Reserve at Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Read more …

COMIFAC National Coordination Units hold consultations in Brazzaville

Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, 04-06 June 2019. The 9th consultation workshop of the COMIFAC National Coordination Units took place at the Mikhael’s Hotel.The meeting’s overall objective was to strengthen the capacities and performance of the COMIFAC National Coordination Units in the discharge of their mission in line with national, regional and international agendas in the forestry and environmental sectors.

Read more …

Gabon: Lee White, the new Minister of Forests, the Sea and the Environment, in charge of the Climate Plan

Libreville, Gabon 13 June 2019_ the Environment enthusiast Lee White, a British-born Gabonese national, told the media at the close of the first Ministers’ Council that his appointment was a call for better governance and sustainable management of Gabon’s forests which are under threat.

Read more …

Traffic-Our CITES CoP18 recommendations now out

This document outlines TRAFFIC’s views and advice on some priority issues and proposals on the agenda for CITES CoP18. TRAFFIC believes that policy decisions and recommendation should be informed and guided by credible evidence and impartial analysis and, for many of the issues addressed in this document, we have highlighted recent TRAFFIC reports and other research that could assist Parties in their deliberations.

 

Read more …

Globallandscapesforum-U.N. declares 2021 to 2030 ‘Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’

Submit your Expression of Interest to attend the Global Landscapes Forum NYC 2019 on 28 September in New York City. The United Nations has issued a massive global ‘call to action’ to mobilize the political and financial support necessary to restore the world’s deforested and degraded ecosystems over the coming decade to support the wellbeing of 3.2 billion people around the globe. More than 2 billion hectares – an area larger than the South American continent – stand to be restored.

Read more …

CABAG-USFWS: CBFP Capacity Building Working Group concerning Wildlife Conservation Launch

On Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 22 participants from 15 institutions attending the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) Council Meeting and the High Level Dialogue in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, met to discuss a range of issues concerning Wildlife Conservation Capacity Development in Central Africa.  This side event was a follow-on to the November 2019 CBFP Capacity Development Roundtable Discussions in Brussels, Belgium. Participants included Central African and international government agencies, NGOs, private sector and donors. Please download the Document...

Read more …

EAST AFRICA Singing from the same spreadsheet

Despite growing fears about rising debt levels, the region’s finance ministers have unveiled a series of expansionary budgets. The four major players in the East African Community completed the annual ritual of   unveiling their national spending plans on 13 june. ‘Transforming lives  through industrialization and job creation for shared prosperity’ was the theme for the budgets of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Read more …

CBFP News Archive

2019

GEF Newsletter | June 2019
The Cafi Dialogues
Forest Watch April 2019
Forest Watch March 2019