The Protected Areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo


This article appeared in : la revue trimestrielle de conservation de la nature et de gestion durable d’Ardenne et Gaume • 3e trimestre 2013 -


 Download the full article here:  Les aires protégées en République Démocratique du Congo


The five largest national parks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Salonga, Virunga, Garamba, Upemba and Kundelungu) cover more than 65.000 km2, equaling an area twice the size of Belgium.  François Misser discusses the disturbing state of these extraordinary sites which are on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The EU provides support to Congolese authorities to capitalize on lessons learned and to reinvigorate these protected areas. Despite the best efforts, several species have disappeared (such as the white rhinos of Garamba) or are critically endangered (such as the hippos of Virunga). Several sites have been invaded by local migrant settlers seeking farmland. Threats from oil exploration continue to besiege Virunga National Park, the oldest park in Africa (established in 1925).


We can only hope that the situation improves over time thanks to the courage of local guard forces and support from donors, such as the EU and its member states. 

Up to now, the Network of Protected Areas in Central Africa (RAPAC), a system comprised of 82 reserves in 8 countries, has implemented a strategic plan to correct this difficult situation, with the support of the EU’s ECOFAC V program.








One of the proposed actions is to improve training for park staff, to effectively resolve very complex situations faced in the field.  In this way, RAPAC works with the Regional Postgraduate School of Tropical Forests and Lands Management (ERAIFT) to research the situation of Central Africa’s protected areas and to identify training needs. François Misser clearly shows in his article that Congolese park staff has to confront complicated situations that require a systemic approach.




Traditional training based on a purely biological approach has proven inadequate and must be complemented by a multisectorial approach better adapted to the management of large protected areas to address a multitude of complex problems.  This new training approach allows for better management of local populations and protected areas, and can better assure local participation in governance and institutional reform.


  Download the full article here:  Les aires protégées en République Démocratique du Congo

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