Natural World Heritage in the Congo Basin
UNESCO has been taking action in the Congo Basin since 2000 in order to improve the conservation and the management of natural World Heritage sites, those already inscribed as well as those which have the potential for inscription.
The two programs being implemented - Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict: Protecting World Heritage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central Africa World Heritage Forest Initiative (CAWHFI) – rely on the World Heritage Convention to reinforce and to promote the protected areas in the region through the sustainable management of the whole ecological landscape.
Congo Basin’s forests
The forests of Central Africa represent the world’s second largest area of tropical rainforest after the Amazon and distinguish themselves by their outstanding biodiversity and high level of endemism. The conservation of the Congo Basin’s forests is essential for its 30 million inhabitants who depend on the countless environmental products and services that the forests provide. The region also plays a central role in climate regulation and carbon sequestration.
The central African humid forests, covering an estimated surface area of roughly 1.6 million km², constitute one of the world’s most important area of natural heritage.
8 natural sites of the Congo Basin, recognized for their Outstanding Universal Value, are inscribed on the World Heritage List.
5 States Parties
These 8 World Heritage sites are in 5 States Parties: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon.
5 sites have been placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger; all of them are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
14% of the surface area of humid forest block in Central Africa has been designated as protected.
UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s action in the Congo Basin
Two programs aiming at enhancing the conservation of the Congo Basin’s natural heritage are coordinated in the Special Projects Unit of the World Heritage Centre.
Biodiversity Conservation in Regions of Armed Conflict: Protecting World Heritage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Supporting the conservation of Congolese sites which already have World Heritage status, but have been inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Central Africa World Heritage Forest Initiative (CAWHFI)
Identifying new potential World Heritage sites through a landscape approach and improving the management standards of these sites so that they can meet the criteria for inscription on the World Heritage List. CAWHFI’s activities are targeting three transborder landscapes in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo and Gabon.