The impact of war on forest areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Dirk Draulans a1 and Ellen Van Krunkelsven a1
a1 Société Salonga Museumlaan, 61 B-3080, Tervuren, Belgium, E-mail: ddraulans@knack.be


This paper provides a review of data on the effects of the civil war on forest areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Only a few of these effects were beneficial, the most important being the collapse of the wood industry. However, the war has increased the number of people that rely on wood for fuel and bushmeat for protein. The presence of soldiers and refugees aggravates this pressure. When people hide they do not necessarily refrain from hunting, because goods, including ivory, can be stocked to be traded when the situation improves. War seems beneficial to the environment only if it keeps people out of large areas. It could be useful to extend the concept of peace parks to war zones. The idea of an international ‘green force’ to protect biodiversity hotspots should be given serious consideration. Awareness is growing that political instability should not preclude conservation efforts from being continued.

(Received December 28 2000)
(Revised May 29 2001)
(Accepted September 4 2001)

Key Words: Africa; biodiversity; bushmeat; Democratic Republic Congo; forests; hunting; war.