Inventory of wetlands in the Democratic Republic of Congo

19/09/2008

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

With the support of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, under the scheme of the Swiss Grants for Africa (SGA), and technical assistance from WWF-DRC the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has just completed an impressive rapid inventory of the representative wetlands of the country.

The group of freshwater experts who contributed to the report preparation highlighted 33 wetland priority areas, covering parts of every province of DRC. These areas meet or exceed the representation goal of 20% for nearly every aquatic ecosystem type. The 66-page inventory report provides a description for each priority area with information on the biological diversity as well as data responding to the following fields of the Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS):

  1. Wetland Type (from the Ramsar “Classification System for Wetland Type”; data field 19)
  2. Identification of uses, social and cultural value of the sites (field 23)
  3. Land tenure in the sites (field 24)
  4. Current land use (field 25)
  5. Adverse factors (past, present or potential) threatening the sites (field 26)

Among the report major findings and observations, one can note that some of the common existing threats identified for the country’s wetlands include pollution from mining activities and urban waste, over-exploitation of fisheries, and soil erosion due to deforestation.

Although the inventory is not as detailed as one might wish, it has the advantage that it takes a macroscopic view of the country, and thus is useful for 1) highlighting large areas that contain wetlands of national biological significance; 2) identifying priorities for further, more detailed social and biological research at finer spatial resolutions; and 3) beginning to identify relationships between biodiversity priority areas and the lands and resource use activities of indigenous and local communities.

In addition to WWF-DRC and the local freshwater and wetlands experts, the project team included WWF-US, the DRC Ministry of Environment and Nature Conservation, and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation, supported with technical input from OSFAC (Satellite Observatories for Central African Forests) for the production of maps

Inventory, assessment and monitoring of wetlands are fundamental tools that provide the basis for many aspect of successful implementation of the Convention. The Secretariat would urges all the Contracting Parties that have carried out their National Wetlands Inventory to follow the example of the Democratic Republic of Congo and raise funds with various donors and partners to get things moving.

-- Abou Bamba

Inventaire Rapide des Zones Humides Représentatives en République Démocratique du Congo (PDF. Text in English, 1.8MB)

Appendix III. Photos of Wetland Areas (PDF)

Appendix IV. List of Fish Species by Wetland Priority Area (PDF)

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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