This week marked the end, and victory, of one of the most successful conservation campaigns – to protect Virunga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The UK oil company Soco International has pledged to end their operations in Virunga It is unlikely this would have been achieved without WWF’s online campaign and the 760,000 plus that signed the petition to ‘draw the line’ against oil exploration and pressure from the British government. The future for Virunga is bright and prosperous. That is, for the time being.
The Democratic republic of Congo is in a position of power over the future of Virunga. UNESCO has called for all oil concessions to be cancelled that cover 85% of the park. The threat is there and it is still very real. Hopefully the action of Soco will set a precedent for other oil operations in conservation sites to be halted, not only in Virunga, but all over the world. Today, it is a victory.
“For it is only when we truly value something for its inherent value that we are willing to come together to protect it.” – Raymond Lumbuenamo is WWF’s Country Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Children playing in Vitshumbi fishing village, Virunga National Park. Source – WWF