World’s largest Ramsar site
The Secretariat is delighted to announce that the paperwork has been completed for what becomes the world’s largest Wetland of International Importance. The Democratic Republic of Congo has designated, effective 24 July 2008, the rainforest wetland called “Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe” (6,569,624 hectares, 01°30’S 017°30’E ), a vast area of rainforest, rivers, and lakes on the eastern side of the Congo River, adjacent to the nearly equally enormous “Grands affluents” Ramsar site (5,908,074 hectares) across the Congo River in the state of Congo. The previous leader for Ramsar site area was “Queen Maud Gulf” (6,278,200 ha) in Canada’s Northwest Territory.
The groundwork for the new designation was significantly assisted by WWF’s International Freshwater Programme and WWF – Democratic Republic of Congo. The nation’s commitment to manage the vast area sustainably was said to be a contribution to an eventual CongoWet Regional Ramsar Initiative currently under development with the CICOS (Commission Internationale Congo-Oubangui-Sangha). At ceremonies celebrating the proposed designation in Kinshasa on 24 July 2008, speakers applauded the new site in the context of the next priority steps for the DR Congo for wetland conservation and Ramsar implementation (see speeches below).
The DR Congo, which joined the Convention in 1996, presently has three Wetlands of International Importance, covering a surface area of 7,435,624 hectares, and the Convention has globally a total of 1,839 Ramsar sites covering 179,929,208 hectares.
Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Africa, Cynthia Kibata, has prepared a brief description of the new site, summarized from the Ramsar Information Sheet submitted with the designation formalities:
Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe. 24/07/08; Equateur, Bandundu; 6,569,624 ha; 01°30’S 017°30’E . Nature Reserve. Located in the transboundary area of Lake Télé and Lake Tumba, the site contains the largest continental freshwater mass in Africa, making it one of the most important wetlands in Africa and one of the most important freshwater masses in the world. As a result of its position in the heart of the Congo basin system, the area contains several rivers and nine lakes that support a diverse range of biodiversity and resources that support the wider populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the neighboring countries, including the adjacent Grands affluents Ramsar site in Congo. Within the site buffalo, various species of monkeys, forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis), and leopards amongst many others are found. This area is known to support waterbirds whose distributions are wholly or mostly spread among the confines of the biome of the Guinea-Congo forests. Activities such as agriculture, fishing, hunting, and collection of non-wood forest products make up a large part of income generation for the communities dependent on the site. Within the site two reserves are found, Lac Tumba-Ledira and Ngiri; where research and various awareness raising activities are carried out. Ramsar site no. 1784. Most recent RIS information: 2009.
-- photos of the wetland by Inogwabini Bila-Isia, WWF-DRC
Presentation of the Ramsar site certificate by M. Landenbergue