Congo Wetlands reserve to be world’s second largest
WWF has welcomed the World Wetlands Day announcement of the world’s second largest internationally recognized and protected significant wetlands reserve in the Congo “as a clear sign of the world’s increasing interest in the green heart of Africa.”
“This underlines the importance of the Congo region as an area that is vital to global climate regulation, biodiversity, and the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples,” said WWF International Director General James Leape.
Around 300,000 people live in the 5,908,074 hectare Grand Affluents RAMSAR wetland, with the four major tributaries to the Congo flowing through it being the origin of its name as well as making the area an important transport network.
The world’s largest RAMSAR wetland is the 6,278,200 ha Queen Maude Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Canada.
Other green heart of Africa RAMSAR sites declared on World Wetlands Day included wetlands on major Congo tributaries such as the Libenga and the Sangha in The Cameroons and two coastal wetland reserves important to migrating birds at Cayo-Loufoualeba and Conkouati-Douli.
WWF International’s wetlands manager Denis Landenbergue, a veteran of the long and challenging process of achieving the declarations, said they were “an outstanding achievement” of the governments and agencies concerned.
"This will help secure water and livelihoods for millions of people and the conservation of important water features, forests and habitats,” he said. “Areas of these wetlands are particularly important dry time refuges for elephants, hippopotamuses and buffalos and for many migratory bird species.”
“WWF lauds the effort in this, the second driest continent, to secure clean and abundant water for millions of people. Wetlands are a critical source of water and other countries would do well to take Africa’s lead,” said Richard Holland, WWF’s Freshwater Director.
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