Congo Designates Three Ramsar Sites
9 October 2012: The Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) has reported that the Government of the Republic of Congo has designated three new Ramsar sites, bringing to 10 its total number of sites.
Preparations for these new designations were supported financially by the WWF International Freshwater Programme.
According to the Ramsar Secretariat, the first site, Ntokou-Pikounda, is a complex of permanent freshwater rivers and lakes, which provides habitat for various IUCN Red-Listed animal species and serves as refuge to several migrating waterbirds. Activities carried out on the site include harvesting of non-timber forest products and subsistence agriculture, fishing and hunting. The site plays an important role in maintaining the general hydrological balance of the Congo basin and ensuring ground water recharge. It is threatened by invasive exotic aquatic plant species, destructive fishing techniques, agriculture by burning, and poaching.
The second site, Odzala Kokoua, features permanent freshwater rivers surrounded by very dense seasonally flooded freshwater swamp forests and ponds. It provides habitat for a wide range of IUCN Red-Listed animal species and supports over 150 species of indigenous fishes, 108 migratory fish species, and 1,062 plant species. Activities carried out in the site include ecotourism, agriculture, aquaculture, hunting, and harvesting of non-timber forest products.
The third site, Vallée du Niari, is a complex of permanent freshwater rivers and lakes surrounded by seasonally flooded freshwater swamp forests. It supports several IUCN Red-Listed animal species and serves as refuge to several migrating waterbird. It plays a role in groundwater recharge, flood control, shoreline stabilisation, and sediment trapping. Activities carried out on the site include ecotourism, fishing, hunting, agriculture and harvesting of forest products. It is threatened by slash and burn agriculture and wood logging.
The Republic of Congo's designations contribute to one of the goals contained in the Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan for 2009-2015, which is to reach a protected area of 250 million hectares by 2015. [Ramsar Press Release]