We need a million signatures to save Virunga and Salonga national parks from oil drilling

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We,  Conserv Congo,  a nature and environmental conservation non profit organisation based in the DRC are stunned and appalled  by the notes of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons concerning M-HYD / ANM / PNI / hnb / 0382 / CAB / MIN / 2018 and No. M-HYD / ANM / PNI / hnb / 0383 / CAB / MIN / 2018 sent to the government to initiate the decommissioning process of blocks 4 and 5 of Virunga National Park and petroleum  Blocks 1 and 2 of Salonga National Park; Noting with bitterness that these correspondences of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons are in blatant contradiction with the international agreements freely signed by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and with the commitment of the country to increase the surface area of ​​protected areas from 11 to 17% of the national territory . The commitment manifested in the creation of the Lomami National Park; Deploring that these stated intentions tend to annihilate, through the reduction of forest cover, all national efforts to combat climate change in the context of REDD +; Recalling that the Virunga and Salonga National Parks are inscribed on the World Heritage List and, as such, must be fully protected by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Regretting that this process of decommissioning is contrary to the provisions of the UNESCO Convention of 16 November 1972 on World Cultural and Natural Heritage ratified by the Democratic Republic of Congo; Reaffirming that the preservation of these heritage sites is particularly essential at a time when the effects of climate change are alarming in our country and where the whole world is mobilizing to protect the ecosystems for the overall balance on which the future of the whole world depends. humanity; Observing that this attempt to destroy these ecosystems for the benefit of oil exploitation will only accentuate the problems of the Congolese people and will result in a loss of millions of dollars that could otherwise be saved by preserving biodiversity and without adverse consequences; Considering that the exploitation of oil will have irreversible adverse consequences on the environment; Considering that experience has shown worldwide that, for an oil extraction operation that is respectful to the environment and concerned with the interests of local communities, the rule of law, good governance, political and social stability, minimum security and effective public administration; Reaffirming that the starting point for the government and the country should rather be the definition of energy policy to determine what energy for the development of the DRC; Emphasizing that ecologically, the two protected areas are fragile and unique ecosystems that require ongoing monitoring. They are already confronted with multiple problems such as the activism of armed groups, poaching, the state inability to provide the necessary means of operation, and so on. If added to the exploitation of hydrocarbons, these protected areas will have to face the following problems:
- Erosion of biodiversity at  a large scale, especially halieutic because of the rejection of the waste of oil;
- Contamination of the waters of the Nile basin, probable source of international conflicts between the countries exploiting this basin;
- Destruction of tropical peatlands on which the hope of all humanity is currently based for carbon sequestration;
- Destruction of nesting areas and size reduction  of several endemic species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians which could lead to their disappearance;
- Increase in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere with the destruction of plant species during oil exploitation activities; Recalling that at the socio-economic level, the dependence of local populations to the two protected areas through various ecosystem services of subsistence in the areas intended for this purpose could suffer. Among these activities we can note:
- Traditional fisheries on Lake Edward whose revenues are estimated according to the WWF Report (2013) to more than 90 million US dollars per year;
- The exploitation of the lake for water and household use of local residents could also be estimated in millions of dollars;
- The Collection organized by the nearby communities in these protected areas;
- Millions of dollars in environmental services provided by the forests and vegetation of these protected areas for several generations.

Noting that all the aforementioned advantages compared to the alleged $ 7 billion that can be generated by the exploitation of a few billion barrels of oil in protected areas call for abandoning this morbid project and that the exploitation of oil does not constitute an urgent need at the moment with the rise in the prices of strategic metals and minerals (cobalt, copper, etc.) produced in the DRC; Convinced of the need to establish priorities for the development of agriculture, manufacturing and services to diversify the national economy; Knowing that the experience of exploiting oil in other countries of sub-Saharan Africa has proved rather beneficial to multinationals and ruling elites to the detriment of the people and the environment; Conserv Congo appeals ti the President of the Republic to use his authority to save our two world heritage sites from an imminent  disappearance by stopping this deadly and vexatious approach that will bring more problems than solutions to the Congolese population.

We also call upon the international community , the United Nations and all media as well as other environmental  across the world to put pressure through any means possible to stop this Congolese government's madness. 

 



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