Issues and Local Voices

What is Happening in Virunga and with the Communities?

Virunga National Park

The Virunga National Park  is Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse park. It is a 7800 square km National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Rwanda and Uganda.

The Oil Threat

The park’s future is threatened: oil has been discovered, and the Congolese government has awarded three concessions for oil exploration, which cover 85% of the park. Oil becomes the most important threat to the park, to the communities and to the ecosystem.

Lake Edward

Lake Edward is one of the Great African Lakes, on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
The lake was named by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley in honour of Prince Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII.

The Oil Company

SOCO International plc is an international oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London. SOCO holds rights on the oil concession in BLOCK V (85%).SOCO’s contract allows them access to a big part of Virunga National Park threatening the park with disruptive seismic tests, forest clearing, underground drilling and the laying of oil pipelines.

The Communities

Virunga’s fauna and flora, as well as the political and security situation in the Great Lakes region are tied closely to the people and to the protection and preservation of this ecosystem. Disruptions in one element will lead automatically to changes in the others.

The local Defenders

Since the beginning of SOCO’s exploration operations in Virunga National Park, Environmental and Human Rights defenders have been fighting for the survival of the park and the respect of community rights. Many of them are facing threats when fighting for Virunga and promoting the sustainable development option for the region and communities.

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Save Virunga brings out the power of local communities and conveys their messages to protect Virunga and preserve the integrity of its ecosystems for future generations.
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The Democratic Republic of Congo is the only country in Africa with five natural sites on the World Heritage List. More than twenty years ago, the DR-Congo decided to inscribe the sites of theVirunga, Garamba, Kahuzi-Biega, Salonga and Okapi National Wildlife Areas on the World Heritage List in danger. Virunga National Park Stretching over 790,000… Read More

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“Where environment and natural resource factors generate conflict, post-conflict peacebuilding efforts must tackle them directly in order to achieve durable peace. At the same time, the recognition that environmental and natural resources can contribute to violent conflict only underscores their potential significance as a pathway for cooperation and confidence-building in war-torn societies.” United Nations Environment Program… Read More

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Salonga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo is at risk from oil exploration due to a questionable contract that could be null and void under Congolese law * Save Virunga differs with Global Witness‘ views on oil exploration in DRC. DRC should not push for any new oil exploration and exploitation in its territory, inside… Read More

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The Synergy of Ecologists for Peace and Development calls on DRC’s new president to protect the country’s national parks against oil exploitation projects and security threats. This platform, that  brings together a dozen of environmental organisations from North Kivu, launched this call through an open letter addressed to President Felix Tshisekedi on Friday, January 25. Virunga… Read More

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Strengthening the rule of law is critical to protecting environmental, social, and cultural values and to achieving ecologically sustainable development.  Without the environmental rule of law and the enforcement of legal rights and obligations, environmental governance, conservation, and protection may be arbitrary, subjective, and unpredictable.  The environmental rule of law and robust institutions are essential… Read More

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As we begin the new year of 2019, we, the member organizations of the Synergy of Ecologists for Peace and Development, regret to draw a mixed assessment for the conservation of Virunga National Park during the year 2018. Indeed, the good news is that with the combined efforts of local communities – governmental conservation institutions… Read More

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Testimonials

What Our Supporters Think

 “For all of the people in the local communities of Virunga: We are listening, and we stand with you to protect Virunga and to protect the people in the Virunga region.”

“The idea of drilling a UNESCO world heritage site for oil is shocking. We have to keep it for future generations and protect the inhabiting species and not let them disappear in front of our eyes. I pray that the organisations and governments can put enough pressure on the DRC to recall any licences for oild explorations.”

“Thanks as always for these updates on the situation with oil exploration in Virunga.”

“A perfect and intelligent representation of the plight of the gorilla and draws all our attention to what is happening to this and so many other endangered species that we say we treasure-do we really?”

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