The Kahuzi-Biega National Park (KBNP) is one of the most biodiverse protected areas in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), hosting the single largest remaining population of the endemic and Critically Endangered Grauer’s gorilla. When KBNP was established as a National Park, more than 50 years ago by colonial authorities, the designation meant that Indigenous Batwa lost access to their ancestral lands. The park is located in the troubled and insecure border region of eastern DRC which has resulted in continued violence toward and displacement of the Batwa and other local communities, as well as loss of the park’s biodiversity and forests.
As complex as the situation remains, today WCS sees reason for hope – for the Park, its globally important wildlife and habitat, and for the thousands of people whose lives are so intricately interwoven with this incredible and challenged place.
Despite the challenges, WCS has been steadfast in its commitment here for more than 20 years, working with partners to advance a model for effective human rights-based conservation. Today, WCS is poised to enter into a “Public Private Partnership” agreement with the Government of the DRC’s National Protected Area Agency (ICCN) for the management of the Park.
This Partnership will seek to:
Establish a publicly transparent and accountable model for nature conservation which ensures the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are respected and protected.
Demonstrate that this human rights-based approach is the best pathway to secure the survival of the unique and endangered flora and fauna of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park over the long-term.
WCS looks forward to taking this vital step which will enable us to mobilize the necessary resources and expertise, not just in the management of the Park, but through direct investments in land tenure, education, health and economic opportunities for the Batwa and local communities that seek to address long-standing structural and social inequalities.
Together, with the Batwa and local communities, government and other partners, we can halt further forest degradation and loss of biodiversity in their traditional lands.
New Management Agreement Signed for Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the DRC
This new management agreement brings opportunity for change for Kahuzi-Biega National Park, the Batwa Indigenous Peoples and other local communities.
“This will take time and will not be an easy journey in a region plagued by a history of violence, corruption, armed conflict, and competing interests in natural resources. These are difficult but necessary steps in addressing the existential threats faced by both the Batwa and the Park.”
A new report revealed that nearly a million square kilometers, or 386,000 square miles, of tropical intact forest landscapes (IFLs) are overlapped by extractive industries thereby posing a significant threat to these pristine regions.