Communities Convene to Celebrate Congolese Conservation
Major breakthrough in securing urgently needed rainforest protection for Central African wildlife commended at celebratory event.
Rainforest Trust’s partner Lukuru Foundation recently hosted an event to celebrate the newly established Lomami National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The nearly 2.2 million-acre national park, which was officially designated this July by the Prime Minister of the DRC after approval by the president and his cabinet, provides fundamental protection for Endangered species such as Okapis and Bonobos and also brings much-needed security and stability to the region. Lomami National Park was the first national park in the Congo, and one of the few in Africa, to be established with major support from local communities.
“This national park was many years in the making as consensus was sought at the local clan and community level before moving it to provincial and national levels,” said Dr. Terese Hart, the national administrator for Lukuru Foundation. “By 2013 both concerned provinces declared provincial parks, so there was close involvement by locally elected officials to promote the status of park before it moved to national level. Over the years of collaboration with the community many local people have joined our teams, and we are confident of the continued collaboration for the security of the amazing Lomami National Park.”
The celebration included a performance from local musicians and presentations from the U.S. ambassador to the DRC, the National Secretary General of the Environment, the Governor of Maniema (one of the two DRC provinces in which the national park is located), the Director General of Congolese Nature Institute (ICCN), the Chef de Cooperation from the European Union and the Chef de Cooperation from Germany. Other guests included provincial governors, the Minister of Tourism, three army generals, numerous advisors to the president, local conservationists and community members.
Rainforest Trust is currently partnering with Lukuru Foundation to create Balanga Forest Reserve next to Lomami National Park, and together the two protected areas will safeguard nearly 3.4 million acres of wildlife habitat in the Congo Basin.