We rarely come across good news when it comes to effective conservation efforts. But the Salonga National Park has proved to be the rare beacon of hope among the tropical rainforests of the world. The World Heritage Committee has removed the forest from the record of sites designated to be in danger.
A UNESCO and IUCN joint mission undertaken in 2020 found exemplary improvement in the conservation of the rainforest. The Salonga National Park is one of the 5 natural World Heritage sites in DP Congo and all five are on the danger list for over 20 years.
Extractive activities such as oil, gas, and mineral exploration or exploitation are incompatible with the status of World Heritage sites, and such activities are not undertaken within such properties.
The decision by the Committee validates the decision by the government to not allow extractive activities at such vulnerable sites. Sites. According to Tim Badman, the director of the WHP, Salonga is in a position to rejoice at its success in addressing the various threats that have affected the site. It has proved that human efforts at conservation do make a striking difference.
WHC Commended Efforts At Preserving Integrity Of The Salonga National Park
The efforts by the national authorities in the past years were recognized by the Committee, along with the efforts of IUCN and UNESCO’S World Heritage Centre, to reach this important milestone.
The joint mission to monitor the site found that there has been a significant improvement in conservation efforts since their last monitoring operation back in 2012.
The Salonga National Park still is the largest rainforest reserve in tropical Africa and the second-largest in the world. The Salonga National Park was inscribed in 1984 on the list of the World Heritage List. It is located at the core of the Congo River central basin, south of the majestic river. The park is isolated and accessible mostly by the river.
The mosaic of marshlands, rivers, streams, grassy glades known as bais, and marshes, is home to 40% of the bonobos in the world. Other species that thrive in the park include forest elephants, Congo peacocks, and the African slender-snouted crocodile.
The Salonga National Park covers an area of 12,900 square miles (133,500 square kilometers) and occupies a vital role in carbon sequestration and climate regulation. The rare biotopes are the only existing rainforest that remains intact in Africa. Moreover, there are vast marshlands and virtually remote unexplored gallery forests and can be considered virgin even today.
The Efforts Have Come A Long Way
In 1984 the Salonga National Park was first inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site. The Committee noted that the animal and plant life in the Salonga National Park is a prime specimen of biological growth and the adaption of various forms of life in the complexity of the equatorial rainforest.
A decade ago, Salonga National Park was designated as a World Heritage site facing danger due to the intrusion of slash and burn agricultural practices and poaching. Political instability and concessions to oil companies for drilling activities had further put the park in danger.
But the Congo government has in recent years worked hard to remove the park from the danger list by adopting measures to tackle poaching that stabilized the forest elephant and bonobo population in the forest.
In June this year, the government of DPR Congo finally clarified that the concessions for oil exploration that intruded into the Salonga National Park have been canceled. This further demonstrated the government’s commitment to the future of the Salonga National Forest and influenced the World Heritage Committee’s decision to remove the forest reserve from the list of sites under threat.