The Annotated Ramsar List: Congo


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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance


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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Congo on 18 October 1998. Congo presently has 10 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 11,335,259 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Cayo-Loufoualeba. 13/12/07; Kouilou; 15,366 ha; 04°53'S 011°57'E. A complex of marine and continental wetlands in the south, including the Malonda mangrove, the Loemé and Malonda rivers, Cayo and Loufoualeba lakes, small streams, marshes and submerged forested islets, resulting in a highly diversified ecosystem. It is an important refuge for the Hippopotamus and Chimpanzee, species of conservation concern. About 378 bird species (including about 284 breeding birds) and a significant number of waterbird species restricted to the Congo-Guinea biome have been spotted, thus contributing significantly to maintaining the biodiversity of the region. As an important source of fish, fuel wood, water for domestic use, and other forest and water resources and as a site associated with traditional beliefs, it is of considerable socio-cultural value to the surrounding population. An overall hydrological balance is maintained by ground water recharge ensured by the lakes, flood prevention, shoreline stabilization and nutrient retention ensured by the marshes and vegetation cover. In the absence of a management plan for the site, it presently benefits from the hunting law which bans hunting from November to May every year. Resource use in some zones is also restricted to clan members, hence ensuring controlled exploitation of resources. Ramsar site no. 1740. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Conkouati-Douli. 13/12/07; Kouilou; 504,950 ha; 03°55'S 011°27'E; National Park. A diverse complex of marine and continental wetland types on the border with Gabon (littoral coast and beaches, mangroves, lagoons, lakes, permanent rivers and streams, papyrus marshes and submerged swamp forests) results in a highly diverse fauna (1207 species in 129 families), makes it a refuge and reproduction zone for fishes, shrimps, crabs, waterbirds and mammals, and maintains the overall hydrological balance of the zone through groundwater recharge, flood prevention, shoreline stabilization and nutrient retention. The resulting fauna diversity contributes to maintaining the biodiversity of the region and gives the site its great biological, hydrological and economic importance. Species of global conservation concern include the forest elephant, gorilla, marine turtles, etc. Fishing and hunting are the major socio-economic activities. Harvesting of forest resources mostly for subsistence also occurs. The waters of the site are exploited for traditional and religious rites, making it culturally important. The National Park has an official management plan but also benefits from the fishing and hunting laws of Congo, further ensuring conservation of its resources. The appearance of invasive aquatic plants, practice of bush fires and slash and burn agriculture, and poaching of turtle eggs are major threats. Ramsar site no. 1741. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Grands affluents. 13/12/07; Plateaux, Cuvette, Sangha, Likouala; 5,908,074 ha; 00°15'S 016°42'E. A large expanse along the Congo River, which with its tributaries represents the most important hydrological system in Central Africa. The main features are lakes, ponds, marshes, flooded and swampy forests, and permanent and temporary rivers, the main rivers being Oubangui, Sangha, Likouala-Mossaka, and Alima, all Congo tributaries, leading to the appellation "Grands affluents". This diverse biotope hosts a wide variety of plant species, macro invertebrates, fishes, birds, reptiles and aquatic mammals. It is home to endangered species (forest elephant, gorilla, and hippopotamus) and offers refuge to migratory fish and bird species during adverse periods. Fishing and exploitation of palm wine (a drink of traditional/cultural symbolism) are major socio-economic activities by the riverine population. The rivers offer an important transport network for local movement as well as transportation of goods between Central Africa and the Atlantic coast, thus important for the socio-economic development of the region. In the absence of a management plan, resource exploitation is partially controlled by respect for the hunting seasons, restriction of exploitation of certain zones to clan residents only, and other local practices and beliefs. Ramsar site no. 1742. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Les Rapides du Congo-Djoué. 03/04/09; Brazzaville; 2,500 ha; 04°19’S 015°11’E. A complex comprising two of the principal tributaries of the River Congo, the Djoué and the Loua, permanent and temporary rivers, marshes, forested islands and aquaculture ponds. It is one of the rare zone of rapids on the Congolese side of the Congo River basin. The l’Île du Diable , one of three forested islands found within the site, provides refuge for a high concentration of birds that have escaped the ever-increasing human pressures that have led to the disappearance of several species. The waterways of the site support important populations of fish and other invertebrates as they serve as spawning grounds and part of the migration path along the River Congo. While the site is poor in endemic flora, it is known to sustain over 163 species of flora in 60 families. The site is a magnet for tourists due to its unique features, which create a spiritual and cultural attraction to the area –  the main economic activities within the site, however, are market gardening, fishing, harvesting of wine palm oil, transport, and presence of a hydroelectric dam. While there is currently no management in place, there are national laws enforced for its protection. Ramsar site no.1857. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Libenga. 13/12/07; Likouala; 59,409 ha; 02°51'N 018°00'E. Located in the north and extending to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the level of River Oubangui, the site consists of River Libenga (325 km long), marshes on both sides of the river, small streams, floodplains, and swamp forests. It plays an important role in biodiversity maintenance, hydrological regulation, and socio-economy of the zone. The river is an important refuge for the hippopotamus population coming from River Oubangui where they face some threats. A wide variety of endemic and migrant fish species inhabit these waters, and the prairies around the river serve as a refuge for some migratory birds (Marabou Stork and Pelicans) and migratory buffalos. The river is important for local transportation. Fishing and palm wine exploitation constitute the main economical activities. The site has no management plan at present but benefits from national and local resource management measures such as restrictive hunting seasons and limitation of exploitation of certain zones to clan residents. River Libenga continues to benefit from the program of control of aquatic invasive species that was initiated by the government in 1998. Ramsar site no. 1743. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Réserve Communautaire du Lac Télé/Likouala-aux-Herbes. 18/06/98; Région de la Likouala; 438,960 ha; 01º05’N 017º15’E. The site comprises a swamp forest, inundated savannahs and floating praries. The wetland vegatation is a mixture of wetland forest species, sometimes flooded and wooded savannah. Several mammal species exist in the area and these include primates, duikers and wild boar as well as bird species such as herons and egrets. The site is owned by the local communities around it, who depend upon it for various natural resources, and subsistence agriculture takes place around the firm ground of the wetland area. Fishing is one of the major activities around the wetland. Ramsar site no. 950. Most recent RIS information: 1994.

Sangha-Nouabalé-Ndoki. 03/04/09; Sangha, Likouala; 1,525,000 ha; 01°41'N 016°26'E. National Park. Found in the northwest of Congo, the site is characterised by lakes, marshes, ponds, floodplain forests, swamps and the Sangha river, whose main tributary is the Ndoki. Various species of conservation concern are found here; flora from the family Fabaceae and Orchidaceae as well as fauna such as the Chimpanzee, Leopard and the Giant Pangolin amongst others. The site provides refuge for palearctic waterbirds such as Glareola pratincola as well as for the Nile Crocodile and fish such as Heterobranchus longifilis that take refuge as the extent of their aquatic habitat declines during the dry season. Apart from the resources provided by the site, it also plays an important role not only in the hydrological regulation of the Congo Basin but also in the socioeconomic development of the country. The Sangha is a communication route through which local communities can move their timber to Brazzaville. Agriculture, fishing, hunting, research, and extraction of sand and clay for construction are also practiced. At present there is a management plan in place only for the National Park, but a management plan will be elaborated for the entire site following the adoption of the National Policy on Wetlands. Ramsar site no. 1858. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Site Ramsar Ntokou-Pikounda. 18/09/2012; Sangha, Cuvette; 427,200 ha; 0°10'15''N 16°16'50''E. A complex of permanent freshwater rivers and lakes surrounded by marshes, trees, shrubs and ponds. The diverse habitat types favour a rich biodiversity including several IUCN Red-Listed species such as Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), Western lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Central Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes). The site serves as refuge to several migrating waterbirds, and it supports above 180 fish species and several plant species with great economic value for the local population, who harvest and trade on non-timber forest products and carry out subsistence agriculture, fishing and hunting. It is very important in maintaining the general hydrological balance of the Congo basin and ensuring ground water recharge. In addition to its economic and hydrological values, it is of great cultural, historical and religious value to the resident population. The site is mostly threatened by invasive exotic aquatic plant species, destructive fishing techniques, agriculture by burning, and poaching. Ramsar site no. 2079. Most recent RIS information 2012.

Site Ramsar Odzala Kokoua. 18/09/2012; Cuvette-Ouest, Sangha; 1,300,000 ha; 00°56'00"N 014°52'00"E. National Park. With permanent freshwater rivers surrounded by very dense seasonally flooded freshwater swamp forests and ponds, the site is characterised by semi-evergreen forests, swamp forests, saline marshes, shrubs and a rich savannah forest. The diversity of forest types provide a habitat for a wide range of species including the Lion (Panthera leo) and Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), which are savannah species, and forest primates such as the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and Western lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), all listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. It supports 25 families and over 150 species of indigenous fishes and 108 migratory fish species, as well as 1,062 plant species, including several endemic species, usually harvested by the local population for food and trading in nearby towns. The main activities carried out in the site are agriculture, aquaculture, hunting, and harvesting of non-timber forest products. It is also an eco-touristic site and an ecological research ground. Ramsar site no. 2080. Most recent RIS information 2012.

Site Ramsar Vallée du Niari. 18/09/2012; Niari; 1,581,000 ha; 03°47'S 012°30'E. A complex of permanent freshwater rivers and lakes surrounded by seasonally flooded freshwater swamp forests. It supports a rich diversity of plant and animal species including several IUCN Red-Listed species such as the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), Western lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). It is a migrating path for over 200 waterbird species and serves as a spawning ground and food source for several fish species. Its main hydrological functions include groundwater recharge, flood control, shoreline stabilisation, and sediment trapping. Ecotourism activities, especially bird-watching, are currently being developed in the site. It is of great cultural value to the resident population, who depend on fishing, hunting, agriculture and harvesting of forest products for a source of livelihood. The site is threatened by slash and burn agriculture and wood logging. This has promoted the current development of a management plan for its exploitation. Ramsar site no. 2081. Most recent RIS information 2012.

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