Logo - Embassy of Congo
Embassy of
the Republic of Congo

 

What you need to know


GeographyRead more

1

Location

The Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic or simply the Congo, is a country in Central Africa.

The Republic of Congo is located along the equator in Central Africa. It is bordered in the north by Cameroon and the Central African Republic; in the west by Gabon; in the East by the Democratic Republic of Congo and by Angola in the southwest.

The size of the Republic of Congo is nearly three times that of the state Pennsylvania with an area of 342,000 Km2. Brazzaville, the capital city, is located on the banks of the Congo River and faces the capital of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa. Brazzaville and Kinshasa are the two closest capitals in the world after Rome and the Vatican.

As a country located along the Equator, the average daily temperature is 24 °C (75 °F) and the climate is generally humid. The nightly temperatures vary between 16 °C (61 °F) and 21 °C (70 °F). The dry season usually lasts from June to September. The rainy season begins in October and ends in May with a short dry season in January-February.

The heavily forested regions of the Republic of Congo provide a habitat for gorillas and other species. According to a 2006-2007 Wildlife conservation society report, the Republic of Congo has a population of 125,000 Western Lowland Gorillas.

Congo’s landscape is a variation of coastal plains, mountainous regions, plateaus and fertile valleys. About 70 % of the country's area is covered by rain forest. The highest point mountain is Mont Nabemba located in the Sangha Department. It has an elevation of 1,020m ( 3,346 ft). Iron ore deposits can be found around Mont Nabemba.

In order to preserve its environmental safety, the Republic of Congo has adopted a set of national policies and signed international agreements on Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, and Wetlands.

Departments

DEPARTMENTS

CAPITAL CITY

 

Bouenza Madingou
Brazzaville Brazzaville
Cuvette Owando
Cuvette-Ouest Ewo
Kouilou Loango
Lékoumou Sibiti
Likouala Impfondo
Niari Dolisie
Plateaux Djambala
Pointe-Noire Pointe-Noire
Pool Kinkala
Sangha Ouésso

 

History Read more

1

History

August 15, 1960

Congo declares its independence; Father Fulbert Youlou becomes president of the republic.

The history of the Republic of the Congo has been marked by French colonization, a transition to independence, socialism, and a transition to a market-oriented economy in the 1990s.The earliest inhabitants were the Bambuti people. The Bambuti were linked to Pygmy tribes. The main Bantu tribe living in the region were the Kongo, also known as the Bakongo. They established a kingdom close to the Congo River, which encompassed all or parts of present-day Angola, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon

Portuguese Exploration

In Portugal, King John’s II quest for access to the Eastern markets prompted Portuguese expeditions in Congo. From, 1482–1483, Captain Diogo Cão, sailing southwards discovered the Congo River, and became the first European to encounter the Kingdom of Kongo. In the beginning, relations were limited but were soon considered beneficial to both sides. Christianity soon became widely accepted by the local nobility. After the baptism of the King Nzinga a Nkuwu, Christianity gained a strong foothold in the Kongo kingdom. The spread of Christianity in the Kongo Kingdom helped build diplomatic relations between Portugal and the Kongo Kings.

Slave trade

As the Portuguese's demand for black slaves grew, the pressure on the Kongo Kings increased. Portugal relied on Kongo Kings for the supply of slaves to the Americas. It is estimated that Portuguese slave traders took away 350,000 slaves from the Kongo Kingdom.

Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Débat was elected President for a five-year term.[7] During Massamba-Débat's term in office the regime adopted "scientific socialism" as the country's constitutional ideology. In 1965, Congo established relations with the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, North Korea and North Vietnam. Massamba-Débat's regime also invited several hundred Cuban army troops into the country to train his party's militia units and these troops helped his government survive a coup d'état in 1966 led by paratroopers loyal to future President Marien Ngouabi. Nevertheless, Massamba-Débat was unable to reconcile various institutional, tribal and ideological factions within the country and his regime ended abruptly with a bloodless coup in September 1968.

Revolt

The Battle of Mbwila was the result of a conflict of mining rights between the Portuguese led by Governor André Vidal de Negreiros and the Kongolese King, António I. Due to the Kongolese refusal to give the Portuguese extra territorial rights, revolts between the parties often erupted. During the battle of October 25th, 1665, the Kongolese army fought against the Portuguese. The Portuguese won the battle. The revolt of Kimpa Vita (Congolese prophetess and leader of her own Christian movement) in the following years was another attempt of the Kongolese Kingdom to regain independence from the Portuguese.

After the Kingdom of the Loango had gained independence, a new set of small kingdoms came into existence. The Teke Kingdom became the most important and the largest political entity. It encompassed all or part of present-day Republic of Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Portugal’s unilateral position in Europe suffered a major blow in 1580 when the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal became united under King Philip. The alliance resulted in a decrease in Portugal’s omnipresence in Kongo. The Kingdom of Kongo was reduced to a small enclave in the north of Angola with King Pedro V in 1888 finally accepting to become a vassal of the Portuguese. The Portuguese abolished the kingdom after the revolt of the Kongolese in 1914.


The period leading up to the Berlin Conference of 1884 saw a rush by the major European powers to increase their control of the African continent. The rise in Western Europe of capitalism and the consequent industrialization led to a fast growing demand for African raw materials like rubber, palm oil and cotton. European powers seeking raw materials to boost their economies and fuel territorial expansion looked to Africa as the solution.

The interest in the quest for raw materials became known as the “Scramble for Africa.” The Congo River hereby became a prime target for this new conquest by the European nations. French explorer, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, whose last name would be later used to name the capital “ Brazzaville” was born in 1852 in Rome. As a French naval officer, he refused to work for the International African Society and instead helped the French in their conquest of the northern Congo River. Traveling from the Atlantic Ocean coast which is present-day Gabon via the rivers Ogooué and Lefini, he arrived in 1880, in the Kingdom of the Téké. In September 1880, he signed a treaty with King Makoko establishing French control over the region.

On April 30th, 1891, the French named their Congolese territory “Colony of French Congo.” On January 15th, 1910, the colony again was renamed French Equatorial Africa (Afrique Equatoriale Française or A.E.F). French Equatorial Africa included present day Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad and the Republic of Congo. During Nazi occupation of France during WWII, the Republic of Congo became the capital of Free France from 1940-1943. In 1944, France hosted the Conference of Brazzaville in which many French colonial policies were reformed. Brazzaville gained autonomy on the November 28th, 1958 and officially became the Republic of Congo.

André Matsoua is considered as one of the most influential nationalists during colonization. He was an active opponent against the Code de l’indigénat ( Indigeneous Code) . Other leaders of nationalism and independence such as former Catholic priest, Fulbert Youlou’s and Jacques Opangualt paved the way for national independence on August 15th, 1960.

As the former capital of French Equatorial Africa, Brazzaville remained a refuge for trade unions. After many turbulent years and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990, the Republic of Congo transitioned from one party rule and planned economy to a multiparty democracy and a market oriented economy. Unfortunately, in 1997, Congo’s march towards economic development and democracy was halted as the Republic of Congo sank into a civil war. After the signing of a cease fire in October 1997 and a peace agreement in December 1999, H.E President Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO was able to lead the country to a new chapter of its history. Democratic presidential elections were held in 2002 and 2009 in which President Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO won a majority and was re-elected by the Congolese people.

President's Gallery

Denis Sassou-Nguesso, (1979 - 1992) and (1997 - Present)

Pascal Lissouba, (1992 - 1997)

Marien Ngouabi(1969 - 1977)

Joachim Yhombi-Opango (1977 - 1979)

Alphonse Massamba-Débat (1963 - 1969)

Fulbert Youlou (1960 - 1963)

  • Politics is set in a framework of a unitary semi-presidential republic, whereby the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government, of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the President and the Government. Recently, following the approval of a new Constitution after a referendum in 2015, Congo became a semi-presidential republic after the creation of the post of prime minister who is responsible to the legislature, as well as the cabinet of the former. Legislative power is vested in both the Government and the two chambers of parliament.
  • The Parliament (Parlement) has two chambers. The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) elects its members to five-year terms in single-seat constituencies. The members of the Senate (Sénat) are elected for a six-year term by district, local and regional councils. The Republic of Congo is a one party dominant state with the Congolese Labour Party in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.
  • Denis Sassou Nguesso (born 23 November 1943) is a Congolese politician who has been the President of the Republic of the Congo since 1997; he was previously President from 1979 to 1992. During his first period as President, he headed the single-party régime of the Congolese Party of Labour (PCT) for 12 years. Under pressure from international sources, he introduced multiparty politics in 1990 and was then stripped of executive powers by the 1991 National Conference, remaining in office as a ceremonial head of state. He stood as a candidate in the 1992 presidential election but was defeated, placing third.

National symbols Read more

Flag of the Repupublic of Congo

The flag of the Republic of Congo, which comprises Pan-African colors (green, yellow and red) was approved on August 18th, 1959 by the Legislative Assembly. The flag became official on September 15th, 1959 and did not change after independence. However, from December 1969 to the early 1990’s, a red flag was used because the Republic of Congo became a socialist country. After the transition to a multiparty election system and a market oriented economy in the early 1990’s, the newly appointed regime reverted to the original national flag on June 10th, 1991.

The current Congolese flag is divided diagonally and is made up of a yellow, green and red band. Each color symbolizes a geographical or historical aspect of the Republic of Congo. The yellow band represents friendship and the nobility of the Congolese people while the green band represents the agriculture and rich forests of Congo. The red color is associated with blood to symbolize the struggle of independence..

National Anthem of the Republic of Congo

 

En ce jour le soleil se lève Et notre Congo resplendit. Une longue nuit s'achève, Un grand bonheur a surgi. Chantons tous avec ivresse Le chant de la liberté. CHORUS: Congolais, debout fièrement partout, Proclamons l'union de notre nation, Oublions ce qui nous divise, soyons plus unis que jamais, Vivons pour notre devise: Unité, travail, progrès! Vivons pour notre devise: Unité, travail, progrès! Des forêts jusqu'à la savanne, Des savannes jusqu'à la mer, Un seul peuple, une seule âme, Un seul coer, ardent et fier, Luttons tous, tant que nous sommes, Pour notre vieux pays noir. (Chorus) Et s'il nous faut mourir, en somme Qu'importe puisque nos enfants, Partout, pourront dire comme On triomphe en combattant, Et dans le moindre village Chantent sous nos trois couleurs. (Chorus) On this day the sun rises And our Congo stands resplendent. A long night is ended, a great happiness has come. Let us all, with wild joyfulness, sing The song of freedom. CHORUS: Arise, Congolese, proud every man, Proclaim the unity of our nation. Let us forget what divides us And become more united than ever. Let us live our motto: Unity, work, progress. Let us live our motto: Unity, work, progress! From the forest to the bush, From the bush to the ocean, One people, one soul, One heart, ardent and proud. Let us all fight, every one of us, For our black country. (Chorus) And if we have to die, What does it really matter? Our children Everywhere will be able to say how Triumph comes through battle, And in the smallest village Sing beneath our three colours. (Chorus)
 
   

Diplomacy Read more

Jean-Claude Gakosso, Head of Congolese Diplomacy

Overview

 

Born on July 1st, 1946, Mr. Basile Ikouebe is an experienced and brilliant Congolese diplomat, who has been active in the foreign policy arena for many years. Prior to his appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Basile Ikouebe worked as a Foreign Service Officer in the Republic of Congo. While working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he became the Head of its International Organization Department in 1974. He was then appointed Principal Private Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1975 to 1977 and Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1977 to 1979. He subsequently became Diplomatic Advisor to President Denis Sassou Nguesso between1982-1992. From 1987, he served concurrently as Principal Private Secretary to the Head of State. Starting in 1994 to 1995, he was Ambassador-at-large and reappointed to the position of Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1996 to 1998.

Basile Ikouebe was appointed Permanent Representative of the Republic of Congo to the United Nations on December 11th, 1998. As Permanent Representative, he served on the UN Security Council for the 2006-2007 term. Among other crucial issues, Mr. Ikouebe, voted resolutions aimed to end violence in Darfur, Sudan, and the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire during his tenure as Congo’s Permanent Representative to the UN. On May 31st, 2007 he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and served as President Sassou Nguesso’s spokesman for diplomatic affairs during his re-election campaign in 2009. As Congo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ikouebe has described “the Good Neighbor Policy,” and “Development Diplomacy” as pillars of Congo’s foreign policy. He has also signed various treaties on environmental protection and global climate change notably on the conservation of the Congo Basin, its tropical forests and its biodiversity, while pushing Congo’s foreign policy agenda towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s)..

Minister Ikouebe is an alumnus of the Institute for Political Studies in Bordeaux and the International Institute of Public Administration in Paris.

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

BP 2070, Boulevard du Général Raoul ( face palais de congrès) Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

  • +242 22 281 41 60
  • +242 22 282 38 43
  • +242 22 282 38 05
  • +242 22 282 38 04
  • +242 22 282 38 36
  • Fax: +242 22 282 38 16
  • Email: sg_maef@hotmail.fr

Government Read more

Quick facts

 

The Republic of Congo has had a multiparty political system since the early 1990's. The United States of America has supported Congolese democratization efforts, by contributing aid to the country's electoral process.  The voting age in the Republic of Congo is 18 years.  The Republic of Congo is a Presidential Republic whereby the President acts as both Head of State and Head of the Government.  The new constitution (adopted by referendum in 2002), established a seven year presidential term and a bicameral national parliament.  President Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO, was democratically elected in 2009 for a seven year term.  In October 2015, a referendum was organized and a new constitution was adopted.  President Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO was democratically elected in March 2016 for a five year term. .

The Republic of Congo’s new constitution was adopted on January 20th, 2002 in a nationwide referendum. The government is made of 3 branches, which include: The Executive branch headed by the President, who is the Chief of State (Le Chef de l’Etat), Head of the Government and Commander-in-chief; The Legislative branch is bicameral. It is made up of a Senate and a National Assembly. The main task of both bodies is to make laws and recommend new laws. The House of Senate consists of 72 seats whereby members are elected by indirect vote and for a 5 year term. In contrast, the National Assembly is made up of 137 seats whereby members are elected by popular vote for a 5 year term; The Judiciary branch is headed by the Supreme Court. It is chaired by the President of the Supreme Court, who leads the judicial branch. It is the highest court in civil, commercial, social or criminal and administrative cases in the country. It has the ability to quash the judgments of inferior courts, if those courts misapplied law.

Congo Basin Read more

 

TThe Congo Basin is the world’s second largest rain forest after the Amazon and is an area of 228,000,000 hectares, comprising the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. As the second largest lung of the world, the Congo Basin shelters approximately 26% of the planet’s rain forests and a wealth of biodiversity. It contains over 10,000 plant species, 1000 bird species and 400 mammal species.

The Congo Basin forests are crucial to the survival of humanity. In fact, they generate oxygen which contributes to the quality of the air we breathe. They also play an important role in climate stability. Indeed, they absorb rainfall and release it slowly into the atmosphere throughout evaporation during sunshine, creating air masses and clouds, which in turn lead to rainfall. They help regulate local and regional rainfall. Most of the rainfall sprinkling Africa comes from the Congo Basin

Moreover, the Basin forests help slow global warming by storing and sequestering carbon. While the Basin forests are useful in maintaining climate stability, they also serve as crucial sources of food, medicine, clean drinking water and recreational activities.

Unfortunately, according to some sources, two million acres of the Congo Basin forests disappear every year due to logging, mining, agriculture and firewood for a growing population. This rate of forest loss is threatening. The United Nations estimate that the disappearance of forests negatively impacts the lifestyle of people and threatens the wildlife established in this area. The removal of forests in the Basin causes greenhouse gas emissions, thus igniting the repercussions on global climate change. It is believed by scientists that two thirds of the Congo Basin forests could be lost by 2040, unless adequate efforts to protect them are firmly implemented.

Given the immense risks associated with the degradation of the Congo Basin, the Government of the Republic of Congo has undertaken numerous efforts at the national and international level

National level


The main objective of the Government of the Republic of Congo is to reconcile development and ecology. Accordingly, the Government of the Republic of Congo has adopted a set of policies, which include:

 

A new Forestry Code: (Law No.16-2000), which tackles the following points: To establish an appropriate legal framework for the sustainable management of forests on the basis of a rational management of resources; To reconcile the use of forest products with forest conservation requirements and biological diversity for a sustainable development; To integrate NGO’s and local populations in the classification of forests; Timber exploitation must obey the provisions of special permits (which only allow the use of accessory products). The processed products must be consumed by craftsmen in the locality in which they are cut to meet the needs of local people; A better knowledge and a durable management of the forests’ ecosystems; A conservation program of ecosystems, notably through the creation and managements of protected areas. As a great reservoir of biodiversity, Congolese forests covering 20 million hectares or 10% of the


Congo Basin are among the richest in Africa. In order to protect them, 16 parks have been created since 1935. According to this policy, protected areas have been expanded by the Government of the Republic of Congo. These protected areas include three national parks, four wildlife reserves, a biosphere reserve, a reserve community, two hunting areas, four sanctuaries to protect chimpanzees and gorillas. Nowadays, there are three national parks and one lake reserve community project that account for one of the most successful conservation accomplishments of the Government:


Odzala-Kokoua National Park: Established in 1935, this park covers an area of more than 1, 3 million hectares. Covering a broad spectrum of habitats such as savannahs, swamps, flooded forests, it houses a large concentration of lowland gorillas and 15 species of primates. It also has one of the largest populations of forest elephants and buffalos, and the last lion population of Central African forests. The Odzala-Kokoua also harbors 444 of the 626 birds species identified in Congo. Furthermore, out of the 4397 plant species listed in the Congo, a total of 1,150 have been raised in this area. The conservation activities enable the integration of protected areas in the economic and social life of the people while improving their living conditions, by implementing sustainable farming systems and fighting against poaching without degrading their national habitat;


Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park: Established in 1993, this national park sprawls over an area 426,800 hectares, and is one of the largest forested areas in western central Africa, covering nearly 2% of Congolese forests. It has a rich flora and fauna that shelters large mammals, such as elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, panthers, more than 300 bird species, and 1000 plants. In the context of conservation, the American NGO, WCS-Congo (Wildlife Conservation Society) has cooperated with the Congolese Ministry of Forests to encourage better managements of these protected areas. WSC Congo has launched various education conservation campaigns in surrounding schools to educate children about the importance of wildlife conservation;


Conkouati-Douli National Park: Sprawling over an area of 504,950 hectares on the border of Congo and Gabon on the Atlantic coast, the park covers the zone from the Atlantic Ocean to the highlands and savannas of the Mayombe Forest.
This national park was founded in 1999. According to some studies that were conducted by specialists, it houses forest and aquatic ecosystems that constitute an important sanctuary for wildlife. This national park is marked by the presence of 48 species of mammals, over 400 bird species out of 552 identified in Congo, 41 species of reptiles, 4 species of marine turtles, 50 species of fish, dolphins, whales, elephants in forests, gorillas, chimpanzees, and mandrills and buffaloes. There are also panthers and hippopotamus. This park has recently been the subject of a zoning which delimits two central nuclei in which resource extraction is prohibited. However, areas of eco-village development or use were left allowing the local community to satisfy its need for firewood, hunting, meat and fish.
In cooperation with the African Timber Organization (ATO), the World Bank, the Organization for the conservation of fauna in Africa (OCFSA) and the Conference on Eco-systems and humid dense forests of Central Africa (CEFDHAC), the Government of the Republic of Congo has integrated local population in the decision making of forest resources management;


The Lake Tele Community Reserve: The Lake Tele Community Reserve located in Likouala (Northern of Congo) was established in 1998. It is a vast expanse of swamp forest. Its long process of creation results from a patient consultation of the populations involved in the ecological preservation of the region, while allowing them to take advantage of their natural life. The reserve is important because of its extraordinary biodiversity but also as an economic support to the 10,000 people who inhabit it. As one of two reserves of Central Africa which aims to preserve flooded forests, it is the proud host of other habitat types such as lowland forests on land, and savannas. Lowland gorillas, forest elephants, panthers, buffalos and crocodiles of forests also live in this reserve. In addition, it possesses a very rich diversity of birds (250 species) and a large number of migratory birds make their nests in this area each year. The rivers and lakes harbor a variety of fish;



    INTERNATIONAL LEVEL


    The Central African Forestry Commission (COMIFAC): The COMIFAC is the primary body of authority that supervises regional decision making on the conservation of the Congo Basin. It is made up of forestry ministers of participating Central African countries (Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Central African Republic) which are under the head of a Secretariat. COMIFAC have so far hosted two important Congo Basin conservation forums and summit. In 2009, it hosted its 10th anniversary with a Heads of State summit of the 6 Congo Basin countries.


    Congo Basin Partnership ( CBFP): The CBFP constitutes a network made of up of 175 individuals, donor governments, international organizations, COMIFAC members ( Chad, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Gabon and the Republic of Congo), international NGOs and regional and national institutions with the primary objective of improving the management and protection of the Congo Basin. In 2004, it received aid under the 2004 Congo Basin Forest Partnership Act passed by the US Congress. The current partnership is also financially supported by the USAID program and the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE). CARPE injects approximately $17 million per year into the project. It is the United States’ largest conservation project in Africa.


    Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF): Launched by the British and Norwegian Governments in order to combat climate change in developing countries, the fund disburses $150 millions to provide highly sophisticated technology, such as satellite camera monitoring of deforestation to track threats and improvements of the Congo Basin. The fund also finances community based conservation projects, an effort to engage community led development efforts in the Republic of Congo.


    Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation ( REDD): The REDD is a mechanism adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009,whose goal is to combat deforestation worldwide. If implemented in the short term and long term, it will deliver millions of dollars to impoverished communities in Congo in carbon credits, educational campaigns to mobilize awareness to fight global climate change, and disaster risk funds to mitigate the devastating consequences of climate change.

    Summit of the 3 Rainforest Basins: From May 29th to June 03rd, 2011, His Excellency Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO, President of the Republic of Congo hosted the Congo Basin, Amazon Basin, and the Mekong summit, a highly praised initiative by the international community to foster environmental protection and combat global climate change in Africa in these vital areas.


    United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Also known as Rio +20): As the spokesperson of the African Continent at the Rio + 20 Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 20th to June 22nd, 2012, President Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO in union with his African counterparts called for a renewed political commitment to sustainable development through the preservation of the environment. The establishment of a green economy within the context of sustainable development that will help create jobs and thus reduce poverty was highly accentuated by the African member states at this earth summit.

Institutions Read more

 

TThe Congo Basin is the world’s second largest rain forest after the Amazon and is an area of 228,000,000 hectares, comprising the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. As the second largest lung of the world, the Congo Basin shelters approximately 26% of the planet’s rain forests and a wealth of biodiversity. It contains over 10,000 plant species, 1000 bird species and 400 mammal species.

The Congo Basin forests are crucial to the survival of humanity. In fact, they generate oxygen which contributes to the quality of the air we breathe. They also play an important role in climate stability. Indeed, they absorb rainfall and release it slowly into the atmosphere throughout evaporation during sunshine, creating air masses and clouds, which in turn lead to rainfall. They help regulate local and regional rainfall. Most of the rainfall sprinkling Africa comes from the Congo Basin

Moreover, the Basin forests help slow global warming by storing and sequestering carbon. While the Basin forests are useful in maintaining climate stability, they also serve as crucial sources of food, medicine, clean drinking water and recreational activities.

Unfortunately, according to some sources, two million acres of the Congo Basin forests disappear every year due to logging, mining, agriculture and firewood for a growing population. This rate of forest loss is threatening. The United Nations estimate that the disappearance of forests negatively impacts the lifestyle of people and threatens the wildlife established in this area. The removal of forests in the Basin causes greenhouse gas emissions, thus igniting the repercussions on global climate change. It is believed by scientists that two thirds of the Congo Basin forests could be lost by 2040, unless adequate efforts to protect them are firmly implemented.

Given the immense risks associated with the degradation of the Congo Basin, the Government of the Republic of Congo has undertaken numerous efforts at the national and international level

National level


The main objective of the Government of the Republic of Congo is to reconcile development and ecology. Accordingly, the Government of the Republic of Congo has adopted a set of policies, which include:

 

A new Forestry Code: (Law No.16-2000), which tackles the following points: To establish an appropriate legal framework for the sustainable management of forests on the basis of a rational management of resources; To reconcile the use of forest products with forest conservation requirements and biological diversity for a sustainable development; To integrate NGO’s and local populations in the classification of forests; Timber exploitation must obey the provisions of special permits (which only allow the use of accessory products). The processed products must be consumed by craftsmen in the locality in which they are cut to meet the needs of local people; A better knowledge and a durable management of the forests’ ecosystems; A conservation program of ecosystems, notably through the creation and managements of protected areas. As a great reservoir of biodiversity, Congolese forests covering 20 million hectares or 10% of the


Congo Basin are among the richest in Africa. In order to protect them, 16 parks have been created since 1935. According to this policy, protected areas have been expanded by the Government of the Republic of Congo. These protected areas include three national parks, four wildlife reserves, a biosphere reserve, a reserve community, two hunting areas, four sanctuaries to protect chimpanzees and gorillas. Nowadays, there are three national parks and one lake reserve community project that account for one of the most successful conservation accomplishments of the Government:


Odzala-Kokoua National Park: Established in 1935, this park covers an area of more than 1, 3 million hectares. Covering a broad spectrum of habitats such as savannahs, swamps, flooded forests, it houses a large concentration of lowland gorillas and 15 species of primates. It also has one of the largest populations of forest elephants and buffalos, and the last lion population of Central African forests. The Odzala-Kokoua also harbors 444 of the 626 birds species identified in Congo. Furthermore, out of the 4397 plant species listed in the Congo, a total of 1,150 have been raised in this area. The conservation activities enable the integration of protected areas in the economic and social life of the people while improving their living conditions, by implementing sustainable farming systems and fighting against poaching without degrading their national habitat;


Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park: Established in 1993, this national park sprawls over an area 426,800 hectares, and is one of the largest forested areas in western central Africa, covering nearly 2% of Congolese forests. It has a rich flora and fauna that shelters large mammals, such as elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, panthers, more than 300 bird species, and 1000 plants. In the context of conservation, the American NGO, WCS-Congo (Wildlife Conservation Society) has cooperated with the Congolese Ministry of Forests to encourage better managements of these protected areas. WSC Congo has launched various education conservation campaigns in surrounding schools to educate children about the importance of wildlife conservation;


Conkouati-Douli National Park: Sprawling over an area of 504,950 hectares on the border of Congo and Gabon on the Atlantic coast, the park covers the zone from the Atlantic Ocean to the highlands and savannas of the Mayombe Forest.
This national park was founded in 1999. According to some studies that were conducted by specialists, it houses forest and aquatic ecosystems that constitute an important sanctuary for wildlife. This national park is marked by the presence of 48 species of mammals, over 400 bird species out of 552 identified in Congo, 41 species of reptiles, 4 species of marine turtles, 50 species of fish, dolphins, whales, elephants in forests, gorillas, chimpanzees, and mandrills and buffaloes. There are also panthers and hippopotamus. This park has recently been the subject of a zoning which delimits two central nuclei in which resource extraction is prohibited. However, areas of eco-village development or use were left allowing the local community to satisfy its need for firewood, hunting, meat and fish.
In cooperation with the African Timber Organization (ATO), the World Bank, the Organization for the conservation of fauna in Africa (OCFSA) and the Conference on Eco-systems and humid dense forests of Central Africa (CEFDHAC), the Government of the Republic of Congo has integrated local population in the decision making of forest resources management;


The Lake Tele Community Reserve: The Lake Tele Community Reserve located in Likouala (Northern of Congo) was established in 1998. It is a vast expanse of swamp forest. Its long process of creation results from a patient consultation of the populations involved in the ecological preservation of the region, while allowing them to take advantage of their natural life. The reserve is important because of its extraordinary biodiversity but also as an economic support to the 10,000 people who inhabit it. As one of two reserves of Central Africa which aims to preserve flooded forests, it is the proud host of other habitat types such as lowland forests on land, and savannas. Lowland gorillas, forest elephants, panthers, buffalos and crocodiles of forests also live in this reserve. In addition, it possesses a very rich diversity of birds (250 species) and a large number of migratory birds make their nests in this area each year. The rivers and lakes harbor a variety of fish;



    INTERNATIONAL LEVEL


    The Central African Forestry Commission (COMIFAC): The COMIFAC is the primary body of authority that supervises regional decision making on the conservation of the Congo Basin. It is made up of forestry ministers of participating Central African countries (Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Central African Republic) which are under the head of a Secretariat. COMIFAC have so far hosted two important Congo Basin conservation forums and summit. In 2009, it hosted its 10th anniversary with a Heads of State summit of the 6 Congo Basin countries.


    Congo Basin Partnership ( CBFP): The CBFP constitutes a network made of up of 175 individuals, donor governments, international organizations, COMIFAC members ( Chad, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Gabon and the Republic of Congo), international NGOs and regional and national institutions with the primary objective of improving the management and protection of the Congo Basin. In 2004, it received aid under the 2004 Congo Basin Forest Partnership Act passed by the US Congress. The current partnership is also financially supported by the USAID program and the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE). CARPE injects approximately $17 million per year into the project. It is the United States’ largest conservation project in Africa.


    Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF): Launched by the British and Norwegian Governments in order to combat climate change in developing countries, the fund disburses $150 millions to provide highly sophisticated technology, such as satellite camera monitoring of deforestation to track threats and improvements of the Congo Basin. The fund also finances community based conservation projects, an effort to engage community led development efforts in the Republic of Congo.


    Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation ( REDD): The REDD is a mechanism adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCC) in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009,whose goal is to combat deforestation worldwide. If implemented in the short term and long term, it will deliver millions of dollars to impoverished communities in Congo in carbon credits, educational campaigns to mobilize awareness to fight global climate change, and disaster risk funds to mitigate the devastating consequences of climate change.

    Summit of the 3 Rainforest Basins: From May 29th to June 03rd, 2011, His Excellency Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO, President of the Republic of Congo hosted the Congo Basin, Amazon Basin, and the Mekong summit, a highly praised initiative by the international community to foster environmental protection and combat global climate change in Africa in these vital areas.


    United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Also known as Rio +20): As the spokesperson of the African Continent at the Rio + 20 Earth Summit that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 20th to June 22nd, 2012, President Denis SASSOU N'GUESSO in union with his African counterparts called for a renewed political commitment to sustainable development through the preservation of the environment. The establishment of a green economy within the context of sustainable development that will help create jobs and thus reduce poverty was highly accentuated by the African member states at this earth summit.