DRC: The Kahuzi-Biega National Park and the IZCN/GTZ Project

Excerpt: "...The people consider the national park laws that prohibit any human activity in these areas to be too severe. Conflicts arise between the habitual rights of the people to use certain areas and the right of the state to protect these areas..The people around the old part of the park live in poor conditions and at high density (ca. 300 people per km2). Although the local population knows more or less where the park borders are, they exert severe pressure on the park mainly through their need for new fields, pastures and forest products (firewood, timber for building, game, mushrooms, medicinal plants). A corridor of 7.5 km breadth connecting the mountain forest with the lowland rain forest partly belongs to the Nindja community. 30% to 35% of this community are inside the park. Before the park was extended, the government did not negotiate with the local population about their habitual rights. Today, about 15,000 people are living within the national park, in Nindja 2,300 persons. It is hoped that compensation measures will be an incentive for them to leave the park voluntarily...The new part of the park contained several villages before it was added. In this zone the population density is less than 10 people per km2 except for some concentrations in mining areas. The people still living in the park continue to exploit the park in their traditional way by farming, keeping livestock, hunting, and mining for precious metals. The inhabitants of villages in close proximity to the park farm within its borders. As this area is so remote, the local population did not know that they were living close to a national park for a long time, and they were told about its extension only a few years ago by the authorities..."

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