Article | 19 Juil, 2021

Salonga National Park in DR Congo removed from World Heritage in Danger List

The World Heritage Committee today has decided to remove Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the List of World Heritage in Danger. A mission carried out jointly by IUCN and UNESCO in 2020 reported significant improvements in the site’s conservation, but recommended that any plan for extractive activities be permanently cancelled and a new management plan be finalised.

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Salonga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Photo: IUCN / Hervé Lethier

Salonga is one of five natural World Heritage sites in DR Congo, all of which have been on the in-danger list for over two decades.

“Today’s decision demonstrates the importance of governments as well as the oil and gas industry not carrying out extractive activities in World Heritage sites,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “Salonga can now celebrate the results of sustained efforts which have helped address the multiple threats affecting the site.”

World Heritage sites are considered “no-go” areas for extractive activities.

Salonga National Park had been on the in-danger list since 1999 due to impacts from conflict, poaching and illegal occupation. It subsequently has also faced potential threats from oil concessions granted in areas overlapping with the site. The government of DR Congo has now confirmed these concessions no longer are valid.

In addition, the renewal of a management agreement between the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) and WWF, which had been pending since 2018, has also been confirmed as imminent. This will help ensure the site continues to benefit from sustained conservation measures, such as anti-poaching activities, species monitoring and collaboration with local communities. A mission carried out in January-February 2020 by IUCN and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre had noted the site’s conservation measures has improved thanks to these protection efforts.

In its decision, the Committee also addressed the need for the state party to take the necessary measures to ensure respect of human rights within the site’s management.

Inscribed on the World Heritage List 1984, Salonga National Park, situated in the heart of the Congo basin, is Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve. It is home to many threatened species, such as the dwarf chimpanzee, the Congo peacock, the forest elephant and the African slender-snouted or 'false' crocodile.

UNESCO’s 44th session of the World Heritage Committee is taking place online until 31 July, hosted by Fuzhou, China. IUCN is the Committee’s official advisor on nature.