NEW YORK (September 18, 2006) -- The Minister of Forestry Economy of the Republic of Congo announced today plans to create two new protected areas that together could be larger than Yellowstone National Park, spanning nearly one million hectares (3,800 square miles). Instead of bison and elk, these new protected areas contain elephants, chimpanzees, hippos, crocodiles, and some of the highest densities of gorillas on earth. The announcement was made by Minister Henri Djombo and officials from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) at the United Nations.
"We are delighted that the Republic of Congo continues to take a leadership role in safeguarding its world-class wildlife and wildlands for generations to come," said Dr. John Robinson, WCS executive vice president for conservation and science. "This is an extraordinary achievement for the entire Congo basin region."
"The Republic of Congo depends on forest resource use for economic development, but it is also deeply committed to biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management. It has already set aside an estimated 11 percent of the country's surface area as protected areas, 90 percent of which is tropical forest. Establishing these new protected areas reinforces the protected area network portfolio and affirms this commitment," said Henri Djombo, Congo's Minister of Forestry Economy
The first new protected area to be created, will be called Ougoue-Lekiti National Park, and lies in the western part of the country. It will adjoin Bateke National Park in Gabon, which was established with WCS's help in 2002. Together this transboundary protected area will safeguard some 600,000 hectares (2,300 square miles). The northern half of Ougoue-Leketi contains a vast and ancient sand dune system, and is covered by large grass and wooded savanna patches separated by fine lines of dense gallery forest, along with a multitude of small lakes and river valleys. The
Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society