The Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has become one of the most dangerous places in the world when it comes to wildlife conservation, said Parliament in a resolution adopted on Thursday. MEPs called for measures to protect this UNESCO World Heritage Site which is also home to the endangered mountain gorilla species.
Stop all oil exploration and exploitation
Parliament expressed its deep concern at the irreversible damage which could be caused to the Virunga National Park (VNP) as a result of oil exploration and exploitation that is "not compatible with World Heritage Status".
The resolution, adopted by a show of hands, points to the British oil company SOCO International which, in violation of different international conventions, has conducted oil exploration in and around Lake Edward, an area which is home to chimpanzees, elephants, crocodiles and lions, some of which are endangered. The company should "stop all exploration and exploitation within Virunga permanently," says the resolution.
Sustainable management of natural resources
Parliament encourages the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to develop sustainable energy and economic alternatives to extractive industries. "Sustainable management of Virunga’s land, water and wildlife will have direct and indirect economic benefits for communities that rely heavily on the park’s natural resources," says the resolution. According to the 2013 WWF report, mountain gorilla tourism alone could generate 30 million dollars a year and create thousands of jobs.
In a debate on 2 December, MEPs called on the Commission to take action to help protect the park, to address the root causes of armed conflicts and corruption, and to support sustainable development and peace-building strategies in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Procedure Code: 2015/2728(RSP)-Virunga
Procedure: non-legislative resolution