Passing on management skills to locals
Because the ultimate beneficiaries of protected areas are local inhabitants, they should be the long-term caretakers of these areas. WWF’s work in the Congo River Basin puts a special emphasis on creating the next generation of protected areas managers – not only protected area staff but people who have a stake in the protection of a high biodiversity area.
These concerns are translating into concerted efforts through the Virunga Environmental Programme (PEVi) in DRC. There, WWF is raising the environmental awareness of local people and sharing skills for the management of natural resources around the National Park. This project has remained active throughout the conflict in the DRC.
Making sure that the basic infrastructure is in place
In the Congo River Basin, a majority of protected areas are severely lacking in basic infrastructure and equipment. This may include basic tools such as VHF equipment, desktop computers and means of transport. In addition to that, salaries for rangers are meagre.
Where necessary, WWF provides direct funding to cover these shortfalls. For example, in Lake Lobéké and Boumba Bek National Parks in Cameroon, WWF contributed to the construction of barriers at all major entrances.
In the past, these entrances were used by poachers and vehicles transporting bushmeat
from the parks and surrounding forest areas. WWF has erected new park headquarters and trans-boundary outposts in Lobéké to support cross-border conservation efforts.
Managing protected areas across borders
In several places in the Congo River Basin, WWF has been promoting the cross-border management of protected areas. One example is the Tri-Nationale de la Sangha (TNS), which brings together Lobéké National Park (Cameroon), Nouabalé-Ndoki (Congo-Brazzaville) and Dzanga-Sangha (Central African Republic).
WWF is involved in the TNS with the implementation of anti-poaching patrols that have led to a drop in trans-border hunting and bushmeat trade. There are regular exchange visits and meetings of technical staff, leading to better coordination of field activities.
USAID CARPE. 2005. Forests of the Congo River Basin: a preliminary assessment
. Balmar: Washington DC.