Olam International’s subsidiary Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Ministry of Forest Economy (MEF) of the Republic of Congo (ROC) have renewed their partnership agreement to protect wildlife around Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in northern ROC.

The national park is part of a Trinational UNESCO World Heritage site recognized for the importance of its animal and plant biodiversity. The renewed agreement was signed on 8th August 2021 in Pokola, Congo-Brazzaville, in the presence of the Minister of Forestry Economy, Her Excellence Madam Rosalie Matondo, and the Minister of Preschool, Primary, Secondary Education and Literacy, His Excellence Mister Jean-Luc Mouthou.

The agreement bolsters the effort to combat poaching in forestry concessions where CIB operates.

“Poaching poses a real threat to the integrity, peace and security of States. This is a high-profile act that we have just taken, because it is only together, by relying on the synergies of all, that we can combat this modern-day scourge. Through the signing of this protocol, we are paving the way for effective, sustainable and transparent management of the wildlife in the peripheral zone of the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, which is rightly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” said the Minister of Forest Economy following the signing of the protocol.

This innovative tripartite agreement was first signed in 1999 to mark the establishment of the PROGEPP (Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park Peripheral Ecosystems Management Project), which operates across three Forest Management Units (FMU) extending to more than 1.5million hectares. The PROGEPP creates a crucial buffer zone that applies a blended model of wildlife protection and management, community engagement and ecological monitoring to protect the park's wildlife population from illegal poaching.

Said Vincent Istace, Director, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, at CIB: “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 this is addressed 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.”

Created in 1993 with strong support from the WCS, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is a 4,000 km2 stronghold for critically endangered forest elephants and significant populations of chimpanzees and western lowland gorillas. The PROGEPP initiative has established a protective corridor between Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and the Lac Télé Community Reserve, which is on one of the world's most extensive tropical peatlands and is critical to climate change mitigation.

This agreement is 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.

Said Richard Malonga, Director of WCS Congo: “Regarding wildlife conservation, the results have been very positive and the conservation outcomes are on a scale that could not have been achieved by focusing on the protected areas alone. This agreement reflects our commitment to the rational and sustainable use of natural resources in the peripheral zone of the park, and also our endorsement of a transparent, sincere, efficient, fruitful, and mutually beneficial partnership to ensure the effectiveness in meeting the challenges of sustainable resource management.”

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.