Congo has three categories of protected area: National Parks; Faunal Reserves and Hunting Reserves. There are three National Parks: Odzala; Nouabalé-Ndoki complex and Conkouati the first two mentioned being managed presently by foreign funded projects. There are five Faunal Reserves and although hunting is prohibited, in practice, it has not been possible to enforce this. There are two Hunting Reserves which have been set aside for big game hunting for which a permit is required.
In early 2001, the African Bird Club supported Jérôme Mokolo Ikonga and teams from the Nouabalé-Ndoki Park to undertake surveys along the Likouala-aux-Herbes River and other rivers in the swamp forests of Lac Télé, and forests and savannas in the Likouala region. This area, despite being more famous in crypto-zoologist circles for the Mokele Mbembe (a large undescribed animal, thought by some to be related to the dinosaurs), is also extremely important for birds.
The team found 293 bird species from 62 families. During one waterbird survey, 2,700 individuals of 33 species were noted, and on a second survey almost 9,000 birds of 39 species. Of note was the first record of European White Stork Ciconia ciconia in the region, and the addition of Black Egret Egretta ardesiaca to the national list in 2001. Another new species for the Congo was Yellow White-eye Zosterops senegalensis, captured in the village of Botongo. A Long-tailed Skua Stercorarius longicaudus was accidentally caught in a fishing net but was subsequently released.
In his report on the work, Jérôme mentions that less effort has been directed to avian studies in the Congo than elsewhere and that its bird list is almost certainly greater than currently known (TYLER, S. 2003).
Congo is party to a number of international agreements including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94 and Wetlands.
In common with many African countries, there are a number of current environmental issues which include air pollution from vehicle emissions, water pollution from the dumping of raw sewage, tap water is not drinkable and deforestation. Timber is a major resource and is exploited selectively wherever dry land forest is accessible. Some of the forests of the north have remained unlogged so far because of poor road infrastructure but this is changing and many of the remaining pristine forests have been allocated to logging companies. Selective logging leaves most of the forest standing but new roads provide better access for hunters to supply the bushmeat markets.
8th February 2008: Congo Wetlands reserve to be world's second largest
WWF has welcomed the World Wetlands Day announcement of the world’s second largest internationally recognized and protected significant wetlands reserve in the Congo “as a clear sign of the world’s increasing interest in the green heart of Africa. “This underlines the importance of the Congo region as an area that is vital to global climate regulation, biodiversity, and the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples,” said WWF International Director General James Leape.
Around 300,000 people live in the 5,908,074 hectare Grand Affluents RAMSAR wetland, with the four major tributaries to the Congo flowing through it being the origin of its name as well as making the area an important transport network. The world’s largest RAMSAR wetland is the 6,278,200 ha Queen Maude Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Canada.
Other green heart of Africa RAMSAR sites declared on World Wetlands Day included wetlands on major Congo tributaries such as the Libenga and the Sangha in The Cameroons and two coastal wetland reserves important to migrating birds at Cayo-Loufoualeba and Conkouati-Douli.
WWF International’s wetlands manager Denis Landenbergue, a veteran of the long and challenging process of achieving the declarations, said they were “an outstanding achievement” of the governments and agencies concerned. "This will help secure water and livelihoods for millions of people and the conservation of important water features, forests and habitats,” he said. “Areas of these wetlands are particularly important dry time refuges for elephants, hippopotamuses and buffalos and for many migratory bird species.”
"WWF lauds the effort in this, the second driest continent, to secure clean and abundant water for millions of people. Wetlands are a critical source of water and other countries would do well to take Africa's lead," said Richard Holland, WWF's Freshwater Director.
Source: World Wildlife Fund