From: WWF
Published February 2, 2008 10:06 AM

Congo Wetlands reserve to be world's second largest

WWF has welcomed the World Wetlands Day declaration of the world’s second largest internationally recognized and protected significant wetlands reserve in the Congo as a clear sign of the world’s increasing interest in the green heart of Africa.

The nearly 6 million hectares of inundated forest making up the Grand Affluents wetland in the middle reaches of the Congo River was one of five wetlands in the Congo and the Cameroon to be notified under the RAMSAR Convention on internationally significant wetlands today.

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"WWF lauds the effort in this, the second driest continent, to secure clean and abundant water for millions of people. Wetlands are a critical source of water and other countries would do well to take Africa's lead," said Richard Holland, WWF's Freshwater Director.

WWF International’s wetlands manager Denis Landenbergue, a veteran of the long and challenging process of achieving the declarations, said they were “an outstanding achievement” of the governments and agencies concerned.

"This will help secure water and livelihoods for millions of people and the conservation of important water features, forests and habitats,” he said. “Areas of these wetlands are particularly important dry time refuges for elephants, hippopotamuses and buffalos and for many migratory bird species.”

Around 300,000 people are dependant on the 5,908,074 hectare Grand Affluents RAMSAR wetland, with the four major tributaries to the Congo being the origin of its name as well as making the area an important transport network. The world’s largest RAMSAR wetland is the 6,278,200 ha Queen Maude Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Canada.

Other Congo area RAMSAR sites declared on World Wetlands Day included wetlands on major Congo tributaries such as the Libenga, the Cayo-Loufoualeba, the Conkouati-Douli, and the Sangha in Cameroon.

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