Target: Henri Djombo, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Forest Economy, and the Environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Goal: Reject oil companies’ proposals for oil extraction in Virunga National Park.
Three big oil companies–Soco, Total, and Ophir Energy–are planning to begin oil extraction in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These plans entail seismic tests, forest clearing, underground drilling, installation of oil pipelines, and significant human presence. Additionally, the proposed areas allocated to oil concessions cover 85 percent of the park’s land. All of these factors would be harmful to the vast and diverse wildlife that inhabits the park.
More individual species live in Virunga National Park than almost any other place in the world. More than 200 mammal species, 22 kinds of primates, and 700 types of birds make their habitat in the park. It is home to many endangered species, like chimpanzees, hippos, forest elephants, and mountain gorillas (only 786 individual mountain gorillas remain in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda). Also, some of these species live exclusively in Virunga National Park, such as the rare and beautiful Okapi, also known as the forest giraffe.
Local residents also benefit from the health of Virunga National Park. 30,000 people make their livelihoods from fishing in the park. Funds raised by mountain gorilla ecotourism are used to pay for conservation efforts and local community projects. In addition to harming wildlife, damaging the park with oil extraction could cause socio-economic tension and crime.
Furthermore, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has outlawed environmentally harmful activities in protected areas, which include Virunga National Park. The Ministry of the Environment has ordered the suspension of oil exploration efforts while they conduct an environmental assessment of potential damage. By signing the petition below, you will urge Minister of Sustainable Development, the Forest Economy, and the Environment Henri Djombo to reject Soco, Total, and Ophir Energy’s oil extraction proposals.
Dear Minister Henri Djombo,
I commend the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s decision to suspend oil exploration in Virunga National Park until a full environmental assessment is done. The conclusion of such an assessment seems very likely to be an adverse one, given the damaging activities entailed in oil extraction (disruptive seismic tests, forest clearing, drilling, oil pipeline installation, and significant human presence) and the scope of the proposed projects (85% of the park).
I am sure you know very well how important Virunga National Park’s wildlife is to the biodiversity of the environment. Countless different species, many endangered, live there and would be harmed by oil extraction efforts. Furthermore, economic benefits to local residents who fish in the park would be influenced, as would revenue from mountain gorilla ecotourism.
For these reasons, and because activities which damage the environment in protected areas are illegal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I urge you to reject oil extraction proposals in Virunga National Park.
[Your Name Here]