Congo Wetlands reserve is world's second largest

Posted: 4 February 2008

On 2008 World Wetlands Day (2 February), the Republic of Congo designated four new Wetlands of International Importance - one of them the world's second largest.

Around 300,000 people live in the 5,908,074 hectare Grand Affluents RAMSAR wetland, with the four major tributaries to the Congo flowing through it being the origin of its name as well as making the area an important transport network.

Other Congo area RAMSAR sites declared on World Wetlands Day included wetlands on major Congo tributaries such as the Libenga and the Sangha in The Cameroons and two coastal wetland reserves important to migrating birds at Cayo-Loufoualeba and Conkouati-Douli.

Congo wetland
Congo wetland
Millions dependent on the health of the Congo basin will benefit from the declaration of the new RAMSAR wetlands, including the world's second largest. Photo: RAMSAR
The lakes, ponds, marshes, flooded and swampy forests, and permanent and temporary rivers of the Grands Affluents wetland host endangered species - the forest elephant, gorilla, and hippopotamus - and offer refuge to migratory fish and bird species during periods of drought.

A wide variety of plant species, macro invertebrates, fishes, birds, reptiles and aquatic mammals are found here, according to Ramsar's description of the area.

"This underlines the importance of the Congo region as an area that is vital to global climate regulation, biodiversity, and the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples," said WWF International Director General James Leape.