Press Release

World Bank Board approves GEF Grant to Support Rehabilitation of Protected Areas in Congo

April 2, 2009

The World Bank’s Executive Board of Directors today approved a $7 million grant to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to support ongoing efforts to rehabilitate protected areas. The DRC ranks fifth in the world for plant and animal diversity, and first in Africa for numbers of mammals and birds. It harbors an unusual diversity of natural habitats, and with two million square kilometers of forest, it has more than fifty percent of Africa’s rainforest, representing the second largest block of rainforest worldwide. Five natural World Heritage Sites are in DRC, more than the rest of Africa combined.



This grant, from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), combined with $6.5 million in financing from the DRC and other donors, will support strengthening of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), rehabilitation of two key protected areas (Garamba National Park, and the Mikeno sector of the Virunga National Park), and activities to help identify new protected areas.

Components of this project will be carried out with close collaboration between ICCN and local, as well as international, NGOs, and will emphasize community participation in the management of protected areas. A key challenge addressed by the project is to increase the level of buy-in by local communities for nature conservation, through enhanced local participation, delivery of social services, and support to local community-based development initiatives and access to potential benefits associated with park management.

“This project is a good example of cooperation among donors and other stakeholders to join with the government of the DRC to strengthen sound stewardship of these globally important protected areas,” said Marie Françoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

The GEF unites 178 countries in partnership with international institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. The GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $8.3 billion in grants and leveraging $33.7 billion in co-financing for over 2,200 projects in over 165 countries.

For more information visit


Garamba National Park:

Virunga National Park:

Mikeno Sector of the Virunga National Park: