“If this is all about protecting the rainforest, then, I don’t know, something has gone wrong here. Something has gone very, very badly wrong.”
Messok Dja is a 1,456 square kilometre area of dense rainforest in the northwest of the Republic of Congo. For years, WWF has been working to persuade the government to establish a new Messok Dja National Park. On its website, WWF states that the forest is “highly threatened by intense elephant poaching and ivory trafficking”. Two logging companies have concessions overlapping the proposed park: a Lebanese company called SIFCO; and a Chinese company called SEFYD.
Last week, the third meeting of the Partners of the Global Peatlands Initiative took place in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo. After the meeting, the United Nations Environment Programme, one of the organisers and funder of the meeting, put out a press release announcing that a “historic agreement” had been signed “to protect the world’s largest tropical peatland”.
“For WWF, partnering with Indigenous Peoples is an essential part of our conservation work.” This sentence comes from WWF’s latest newsletter from its international forest and climate team. The article is written by Jolly Sassa Kiuka and Flory Botamba who work for WWF in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Conservation efforts in the Congo Basin are mostly failing to protect forests and biodiversity, having serious negative impacts on local populations, and for these reasons are probably unsustainable.”
In May 2012, Olam International announced a REDD project for “sustainable forest management” in the Republic of Congo. The project is a public-private partnership between Olam International’s subsidiary CIB (Congolaise Industrielle des Bois) and the Government of the Republic of Congo.
An anonymous article in the September 2011 UN-REDD newsletter paints a rosy picture of REDD-readiness in the Republic of Congo. An anonymous response, sent to REDD-Monitor yesterday, argues that the UN-REDD article ignores the on-going destruction of the Republic of Congo’s forests.
The Odzala-Kokoua National Park, in the northwest of the Republic of Congo, was declared a National Park in 1935 when the country was a colony of France. In 2001, the part was increased in size to 1,354,600 hectares. It is currently managed by the African Parks Network, which describes itself as, “The business approach to management of protected areas”.