Inventory of wetlands in the Democratic Republic of Congo

01/08/2007

Swiss Grant for Africa: Inventory of wetlands in the Democratic Republic of Congo

zaire.gif (1497 bytes)The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, 1971), under the scheme of the Swiss Grants for Africa (SGA) financed by the government of Switzerland, is coordinating and funding projects aimed at sustainable use and management of wetlands resources in the Congo basin in Africa. This move contributes to the implementation of Article 3.1 of the Ramsar Convention text (which encourages the conservation of wetlands included in the Ramsar List and as far as possible the wise use of wetlands in their territory) and applies the key activity areas 1.1.1, 1.1.2 and 1.1.6 of operational objective 1 of the Ramsar 2003-2008 Strategic Plan.

Under the scope of this joint venture and the CongoWet Regional Initiative, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be executing a project aimed at the 'wise use of natural resources in DRC', over a period of one year starting from the 1st of June 2007. This project would be accomplished through a series of activities which include:

  • carrying out a rapid inventory of target representative wetlands of the country;
  • preliminary mapping of these zones;
  • updating and completion of data on DRC wetlands;
  • disseminating information obtained amongst national authorities; and
  • sensitizing the public on the values and services of wetlands in general.

It is expected that this will yield useful information on the key wetland types of DRC, their current status, existing and potential threats, their location and distribution within the country and their necessary ecological, physical and socio-economic characteristics. The main research methods and tools will be the use of existing data and scientific information and GIS software and other Earth Observation technology. This process will be interdisciplinary in nature and will involve collaboration between major stakeholders such as the local population, political administration, and governmental-, nongovernmental-, and international organizations.

The main project executors are the WWF-DRC office, a team from WWF-US, the DRC Ministry of Environment and Nature Conservation, and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation, supported with technical input from the European Space Agency (ESA) and OSFAC (Satellite Observatories for Central African Forests) for the production of maps. In principle, ESA has agreed to support this project with existing spatial data and images. The Ramsar Secretariat will provide technical assistance and monitor progress in the project implementation.

In accomplishment of Article 4.3 of the Convention text (encouraging the research and exchange of data and publications regarding wetlands and their flora and fauna), the resulting report shall be made available to the public and other Contracting Parties for the purpose of information sharing and as a sample document to encourage similar steps by other Parties where such information is still lacking.

This project should lead among others to the identification and thus recommendation of candidate sites for designation as Wetlands of International Importance (and hopefully the future designation of one of the biggest Ramsar sites), as encouraged by the key action area 1.1.2 of operational objective 1 of the Ramsar 2003-2008 Strategic plan. Finally, the project is the first step for the preparation of the National Wetlands Policy of DRC.

-- Evelyn Moloko Parh, Ramsar

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