Olam International re-affirms commitment to protect wildlife, biodiversity in Congo through renewal of partnership

CONGO – Global food and agri-business firm, Olam International has renewed it partnership agreement with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Republic of Congo to protect the country’s wildlife and biodiversity around the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in northern Congo.

This innovative tripartite agreement was first signed in 1999 through Olam’s wood and forestry subsidiary, CIB, to mark the establishment of the PROGEPP (Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park Peripheral Ecosystems Management Project), which operates across three Forest Management Units (FMU).

The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park was created in 1993 with strong support from the WCS and is a UNESCO World Heritage site recognised for hosting critically endangered forest elephants and significant populations of chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas.

The PROGEPP creates a crucial buffer zone that utilises eco-guards, biomonitoring and community collaboration to protect the park’s wildlife population from illegal poaching.

The protective corridor between Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and the Lac Télé Community Reserve, is on one of the world’s most extensive peatlands and is critical to climate change mitigation.

“There is no single strategy to effectively halt biodiversity loss while improving people’s lives. We are convinced that a forest conservation approach can only succeed if all stakeholders work together through a concerted effort.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership with WCS and the government of Republic of Congo to strengthen efforts to protect the endangered species and local biodiversity in this ecologically unique and significant region,” said Vincent Istace, Director, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, at CIB.

To further curb anti-poaching in the National Park, CIB and the Ministry of Forest Economy of the Republic of Congo also signed a separate agreement to establish an anti-poaching unit on its Mimbeli-Ibenga forest concession.

This unit of 15 eco-guards will cover approximately 650,000 hectares north of the area covered by the PROGEPP.

“We are convinced that a forest conservation approach can only succeed if all stakeholders work together through a concerted effort.”

Vincent Istace, Director – Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, at CIB

Eco-guards play an important role in protecting local biodiversity and regularly undergo intensive refresher training, including courses on human rights and wildlife crime legislation, to strengthen their community engagement and conservation efforts.

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Implementation of these agreements will benefit from the crucial financial support from ECOFAC (European Union), the AFD (French Development Agency), the FFEM (French Facility for Global Environment) and the UK government through its FGMC facility.

The agreements are pioneering a conservation management model that brings public and private sector partners together to tackle the immediate threat of poaching and to protect endangered animals around Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park.

CIB has more than 1,000 permanent employees to date and works in 4 FMUs, all of them FSC certified, covering approximately 2.2 million hectares: Pokola, Kabo, Loundoungou-Toukoulaka, and Mimbeli Ibenga.

CIB’s fifth concession of North Pikounda of 92,000 hectares is preserved as a carbon sink under a REDD+ programme1 in partnership with the Republic of Congo.

The collaboration is proving effective in helping protect local species and biodiversity. In the last six months, 194 patrols have been carried out in the park’s surrounding areas, including joint patrols with the Lobéké National Park of Cameroon.

These have led to 66 arrests relating to the capture, trafficking, possession of African grey parrots, and killing of gorillas.

The news agreement will allow greater technical and strategic support to PROGEPP activities that will reinforce technical expertise, improve equipment and communications, and enhance the safety of rangers.

It will also encourage a more effective governance system and a more robust institutional framework for the joint effort to protect wildlife.

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