There is amazing biodiversity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This Central African country has extensive woodland. There are, however, armed conflicts over resources in the country, particularly in East Congo. The habitats of wildlife including gorillas, hippopotamuses and elephants have come under pressure due to these conflicts and illegal poaching.
IUCN NL focuses specifically on environmental crimes in East Congo that has an unprecedented level of impunity. East Congo is rich in expensive natural resources, such as hardwood and firewood. The soil is also rich in mineral resources such as copper, coltan and oil. Armed groups regularly use violence to gain control over these natural resources.
We support partner organisations in Virunga and Kahuzi Biéga, nature reserves that UNESCO recognises as natural World Heritage Sites. Virunga encompasses woodlands, wetlands and savannah and is a unique area because it is the habitat for three species of apes. Park rangers and nature conservationists face intimidation and murder. We expand their network and place them in the public eye when necessary.
IUCN NL furthermore strengthens local and indigenous communities that stand up against illegal poaching and fishing. We help them to prevent land expropriation and to enforce nationally and internationally recognised rights. In addition, we encourage them to join forces with park rangers to protect their areas and to show park rangers how they can focus on ways of procuring forest products and fishing in lakes with respect for the environment.
After 50 years of armed conflicts, many Congolese have either largely or entirely lost their trust in each other. IUCN NL consequently also invests considerable time and energy in intermediation and building relationships.