Environmentalists halt oil Exploration in DR Congo national park

As concern grows over the continued environmental degradation globally, Zambia included, concerned activists have taken one more hindrance step in Africa’s fifth largest country-Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has halted oil exploration in the Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest UNESCO-protected national park after global environmental activists launched a complaint to the authorities over the degradation of the land which has deprived the people and the environment, the World Bulletin reported.

Citing the UK-based Soco International it said the oil hunt had been halted after the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched a complaint. WWF has since dropped the case. 

The two organizations made peace in a joint statement which said they looked forward “to working responsibly with the Democratic Republic of Congo and its people to ensure that future development benefits both people and the environment”, the online publication added.

And BBC, Soco, owners of the project said it would complete its existing program of work in Virunga within 30 days, which includes seismic testing in Lake Edward.

“Our agreement with WWF focuses the need for the DR Congo government and Unesco to also reach an agreement on the best way to combine development and the environment,” the World Bulletin cited Soco chairman Rui de Sousa as saying in a statement.

Marco Lambertini, WWF’s director general, described the agreement as a “victory for our planet and for good practices in business”.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also elated at the development said it was happy that the matter has been resolved, said the conservation group’s DR Congo director, Raymond Lumbuenamo, in a statement.

“As in other African countries, with proper investment, this park can become a leading economic driver for its communities Hippos, elephants, lions and rare bird species can also be found in the park, along with endangered mountain gorillas.

In Zambia, a similar concern has been raised by environmental activists in which they are contesting in the courts of law, the Government’s approval of a mining company, starting construction and operations in one of the national game parks, which they say will affect the environment-which is habitable by various animal species.

The Government had offered Mwembeshi Resources Limited (“MRL”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Zambezi Resources Limited to start construction of a mining company in a national game park, which earlier, the Zambia Environmental Agency had opposed the Company’s Environmental Impact Study for its 100% owned Kangaluwi Copper Project in Zambia.

The conservationists have petitioned the Lusaka High Court over the matter and a stay of execution (restraining the mining company from proceed with the project) was granted and remains in place pending the outcome of the appeal against the Minister’s decision. That appeal will now be heard on 16 July 2014.

This means Zambezi Resources is temporarily unable to commence operations on site in accordance with its mining licence and act on the approvals it has received from ZEMA to precede with the development of its Kangaluwi Copper Project until the matter is determined.

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