UNESCO World Heritage Kahuzi-Biega National Park: Digital Access to Biological Diversity
To increase the visibility of the highly endangered Kahuzi-Biega National Park, the NGO KIVU TERRA NOVA developed the app "MyPNKB" with the help of funding from the German Commission for UNESCO. The app, which is available worldwide, makes it possible for tourists to explore the extraordinary biological wealth of the park even in times of a pandemic.
The aim of #SOSAfricanHeritage is to contribute to preserving independent and sustainable organisational structures at African World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves with the participation of civil society as well as to secure spaces dedicated to education for global citizenship, sustainability and cultural diversity.
The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a vast area of primary tropical forest dominated by two extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi and Biega, featuring a diverse and rich fauna. It stretches across the Albertinian Rift and the Congo Basin and is one of the ecologically richest regions in Africa. The world's most important population of eastern lowland gorillas - a subspecies endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo - uses this diversity as a habitat. Dense lowland rainforests and Afromontane forests cover more than 600 000 ha, with bamboo forests and some small areas of subalpine prairies and heather on the mountains Kahuzi and Biega.
The park has been on UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger since 1997 due to poaching, deforestation and the presence of armed militias.
Restrictions due to the pandemic
The pandemic has further worsened the condition of the site through poaching, charcoal production, mineral exploitation and anthropogenic pressures. The suspension of certain routine activities (tourism and ranger tours) and the reduction of patrol frequencies have further increased the vulnerability of this World Heritage site. The death of one gorilla due to lack of ambulatory care following a collision with another in July 2020 and the increase in human-animal conflicts following repeated attacks by gorillas on the fields of the local population, which are increasingly threatened by poverty and hunger, were recorded.
Remedy through app "MyPNKB"
Through the funding of the #SOSAfricanHeritage special support programme, the visibility of the severely threatened national park could be significantly increased. The app "MyPNKB", developed as part of the project, now makes the outstanding biological diversity of the World Heritage site accessible to national and international visitors, even in times of a pandemic. KIVU TERRA NOVA spread the news through a cooperation with a local radio station and the app was downloaded almost 500 times in the first month only. A newly launched website also offers the opportunity to donate for supporting nature conservation in the national park.
In addition, KIVU TERRA NOVA organised several workshops at schools, UNESCO clubs and other educational institutions to improve ecotourism, conservation and sustainable development in the national park. As the social situation of the local communities has deteriorated considerably, COVID-19 information campaigns and the provision of hygiene products to combat the pandemic formed another integral part of the project.
On the initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the Goethe-Institut, an International Relief Fund was set up in summer 2020 to provide rapid support to cultural and educational organisations abroad during the COVID-19-Pandemic. With its special support programme #SOSAfricanHeritage, the German Commission for UNESCO is part of the Relief Fund consortium.
- Site: Kahuzi-Biega National Park
- Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
- Type of Site: UNESCO World Heritage (natural heritage)
- Year of inscription: 1980