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Democratic Republic of the Congo - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

DR Congo has not yet established a system to review and monitor biodiversity or a set of indicators for this purpose. Moreover, taxonomic inventories have not been maintained for more than 70 years. As such, it is difficult to compile an accurate picture of biodiversity and project trends. The information below presents a general overview, including perceived changes to the state of biodiversity.

DR Congo is one the world’s 10 mega-biodiverse countries, with a high rate of endemism, important freshwater, forest and soil resources, including subsoils highly valued for their mineral content. However, severe demographic and economic pressures, and the unsustainable use of resources, have impacted negatively on the environment, particularly with regard to forest resources. In 1990, forest cover was 55% however had fallen to 52% by 2000, with the rate of deforestation being highest in areas of high population density. Habitat destruction poses the most serious threat. According to 1994 figures, 6 of the country’s 19 habitat types were being continually destroyed or degraded due to anthropogenic factors, climate change, plant aging. Consequently, certain species of fauna (e.g. white rhinocerous in the Garamba National Park, mountain gorillas and hippopotamuses in the Virunga National Park, bonobos in the province of Equator) and flora are threatened with local extinction. The country possesses 50% of the freshwater resources of the African continent, numerous and diverse species of aquatic fauna, with a strong potential for the development of hydroelectric energy. However, pollution caused by human pressures is undermining this potential, with certain areas being more prone to natural disasters as a result of land and water degradation. A critical need for measures to manage activities related to fishing and agrobiodiversity has also resulted in biodiversity loss in these areas.

The benefits arising from the use of biological resources are largely inequitably distributed, being enjoyed by a very small segment of the population with the vast majority living in extreme poverty and deteriorating conditions.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Direct and indirect pressures on biodiversity are numerous, and primarily anthropogenic in nature. Deforestation is exacerbated by factors such as the population’s strong dependence on wood energy, extensive slash and burn farming practices, anarchic establishment of mining quarries. Other threats to biodiversity are poaching, including large mammals (sometimes in protected areas); commercialization of bushmeat; extensive and uncontrolled exploitation of water resources, particularly in regard to fishing activities (subsistence and commercial); pollution of water resources as a result of petroleum exploitation in the hydrocarbon sector; mismanagement of protected areas and ex situ conservation areas; inadequate taxonomic inventories; introduction of invasive alien species; genetic erosion of agrobiodiversity; inadequate legislation and use of EIA; absence of an emergency plan and national rapid alert system; armed conflicts of 1996 and 1998, financing of military activities through the exploitation of natural resources such as diamonds, gold, coltan; misappropriation of funds for conservation activities.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

DR Congo produced its NBSAP in 1999 and revised it in 2002 however implementation has been weak due to government priorities being focused on poverty reduction. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2006) serves as a guide for sustainable resource management and as a base document for the development of related policies and other sectoral strategies. Actions contained in the NBSAP that are receiving attention include: revision of legislation and related legal instruments; establishment or revision of management plans for national parks and protected areas; improved knowledge of ecosystems and taxonomic groups; scientific research; involvement of local communities in protected areas conservation; promotion of eco-tourism in protected areas.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Information not available at Secretariat level

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Matters related to biodiversity are almost exclusively treated by the Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism. Cooperation with other ministries, stakeholders, local communities has been limited however efforts are now being taken to mainstream throughout sectors and levels, with NGO involvement also on the rise. The country has also acknowledged the importance and relevance of involving local communities in management activities. Work has also been carried out to ensure harmonious policy development with the production sectors. A framework for agricultural policy has been produced, with a related law in development. A forest code was developed in 2002. A code for the mining sector has also been developed, as has a draft code for the hydrocarbon sector.

As a result of financial support from Norway, the country is engaged in REDD activities. Discussion is also taking place regarding the creation of transboundary protected areas with the Republic of Congo and Angola. The country has adopted the “landscape” approach, which stresses socio-economic dimensions, to sustainably manage its natural ecosystems. The protected areas network comprises approximately 10% of the country’s territory, with plans underway to expand this coverage to 15%. Activities are also under way to promote genetic diversity conservation through involvement in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Belgian cooperation projects.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

DR Congo has not yet established a system to review and monitor biodiversity or a set of indicators for this purpose. Moreover, taxonomic inventories have not been maintained for more than 70 years. There is an absence of an emergency plan and national rapid alert system for biodiversity. A regional cooperation mechanism for dealing with emergencies has not yet been established either.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme