Local pressure mounts against oil in Virunga
Under DRC law, activities that could damage national parks, like oil and mining, are prohibited. Currently, Soco is exploiting a legal loophole that allows for scientific activities, but more invasive exploration activities appear to be imminent. The company says that it has been given permission for seismic testing on Virunga’s Lake Edward. The lake provides fish and freshwater to 50,000 nearby residents.
Fishermen and their families fear that they will be restricted from the lake or that it could become polluted. Oil exploration in DRC’s Bas Congo province has proven to be highly damaging to the environment. It also failed to provide promised jobs. Those living near the park say they would like to better understand their sustainable development alternatives to oil.
Analysis commissioned by WWF found that if developed sustainably, Virunga National Park could grow in value to over US$1 billion per year and could be the source of 45,000 permanent jobs. As the most biodiverse park in Africa, Virunga has tremendous tourism potential from its rare species like mountain gorillas, okapis and migratory birds. Revenue from tourism is shared equitably with local communities, whereas oil profits are likely to be repatriated abroad to the benefit of Soco’s investors.
Over 500,000 people have joined local activists and WWF to draw the line against oil in Virunga. Lend your voice by signing now.