Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Environment in trouble in most biodiverse African country

Baudry Aluma in IPS: Ranked fifth in the world in terms of animal and plant diversity, the Democratic Republic of Congo is considered to be a treasure chest of biodiversity and a vital regulator of global warming.

Analysts regard DRC as one of the most important countries for the future of the planet and in terms of safeguarding the environment. But the country needs a strong legal and institutional framework to ensure sustainable solutions for the conservation of these immense but threatened natural resources.

DRC is ranked dead last among the 187 countries on the Human Development Index. The 2011 HDI report, titled “Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All”, provides many reasons for the country’s low score: weaknesses in governance; recurring armed conflicts, particularly in the east; inadequate environmental services; and a lack of public investment.

The Congo and Nile river basins – which both have their headwaters in the Kivu region, in eastern DRC – need urgent attention if aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are to be stabilised. The displacement of hundreds of thousands of people by successive wars has placed a strain on forests and rivers, as the local population seeks refuge and a means of survival. Armed groups have directly contributed to environmental damage through poaching and unregulated mining and logging.

However, it is possible to reverse this tendency, according to the former Congolese environment minister, José Endundo, who says that DRC’s natural resource policy has come a long way. Addressing a steering committee developing national policies for conservation, forest management and biodiversity in Kinshasa in March, Endundo said the country put a new forest code in place in August 2002, which incorporated modern principles for management of natural resources and international conventions on the environment....

Sunrise on the Congo River, shot by Bsm15, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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