WWF in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) | WWF

WWF in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

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Eastern lowland gorilla in Kahuzi Biega National park
© Sinziana Demian / WWF GHoA

DRC Key Facts

Surface: 2,345,000km² (largest country of the Congo Basin)

Population: 77.4 million (2014 estimate)

Ranks: second lowest in the global 2013 UNDP Human Development Index

5.4 million people have died since the mid-1990s due to conflict and its aftermath (disease, poverty, neglect)

Volatility and insecurity persist in the East of the country
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the most biologically diverse country in Africa and one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world, encompassing over half of Africa’s tropical forest.  It is home to over 15,000 plant and animal species, including more than 3,200 endemics such as the okapi, Congolese peacock, and bonobo.

WWF started working in the DRC in the mid-1980s through a programme largely focused on Protected Areas in some of the most emblematic sites in the East of the country: Garamba National Park, Okapi Wildlife Reserve, Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Despite the armed conflicts that ravaged the country starting in the mid-1990s, WWF maintained a continuous presence in the DRC and gradually expanded its geographical and thematic scope. The country office in Kinshasa opened in March 2004.

Today, WWF has around 30 active projects within eight programmes, four geographical programmes (Lac Tumba Landscape, Salonga-Lukenie-Sankuru Landscape, Eastern Programme and Bas Congo Programme) and four thematic programmes (Forest Programme, Protected Areas Programme, Green Economy Programme and Wildlife Programme).

Our conservation work is centered on the following themes:
  • Reduction of illegal wildlife trade
  • Sustainable and effective protected areas
  • Green economy
  • Forests and carbon
WWF works in close collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism (MECNT) and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), which is the official body in charge of conservation in the country. We also work with local environmental civil society organizations and forest companies engaged in sustainable forest management.

WWF-DRC has over 100 employees.
 

DISCOVER the WWF PROGRAMMES IN THE DRC

 
	© WWF Carpo
DRC
© WWF Carpo

LANDSCAPE & BIODIVERSITY

  • Very diverse landscape: forests, savannahs, mountains, marshes, Ocean coasts
  • Over 50% of Africa’s tropical forests are found in DRC
  • Congo River is Africa’s second longest river (after the Nile) and world’s second largest by discharge (after the Amazon).
  • Exceptionally rich biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species.
  • Great apes: three gorilla taxa (mountain gorilla, western lowland gorilla, eastern lowland gorilla), chimpanzee, bonobo
  • Great mammals: forest and savannah elephant, hippo, lion, cheetah, okapi
  • Birds: Congolese peacock

NATURAL RESOURCES

Vast natural resources, including diamonds, gold, silver, uranium, coltan, cobalt, oil, timber. The overall value of its underground reserves has been estimated at $US24 trillion.

Main Activities of WWF-DRC

  • Supporting institutions to develop and implement new forestry policies, species conservation and protected areas effectiveness management in collaboration with ICCN;
  • Participatory land-use planning and landscape conservation;
  • Developing alternative activities to the exploitation of natural resources;
  • Supporting indigenous peoples and local communities;
  • Capacity building for environmental civil society organizations;
  • Supporting logging companies to implement sustainable forest management practices, engage in legality verification, and subsequently go for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification; equally support their participation in the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN));
  • Fighting climate change through REDD+ pilot projects.

MAJOR THREATS TO CONSERVATION

1. Elephant poaching and ivory trading
2. Commercial bushmeat hunting, driven by increased demand from urban centers
3. Accelerated deforestation caused by illegal logging, shifting cultivation and bush fires
4. Soil, air and water polution caused by environmentally unfriendly mining practices
5. Protracted local conflicts, with many armed groups vying for control of territories and natural resources

DRC

© naturepl.com / Christophe Courteau / WWF © naturepl.com / Karl Ammann / WWF © Martin HARVEY / WWF © © Martin HARVEY / WWF © Brent Stirton / Reportage by Getty Images / WWF © WWF / Sandra MBANEFO OBIAGO