Virunga National Park, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the (Downgrade, 2010)

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Protected Area Name (Primary)
Virunga National Park

Name of protected area at the time PADDD was enacted or proposed.

Protected Area Name (Others)
Virunga National Park
Albert National Park

All other names associated with the protected area.


Downgrading — a decrease in legal restrictions on the number, magnitude, or extent of human activities within a PA.
Downsizing — a decrease in the size of a PA as a result of excision of land or sea area through a legal boundary change.
Degazettement — a functional loss of legal protection for an entire PA.


The legal standing of an order to downgrade, downsize, or degazette.
Enacted: PADDD has passed into law.
Proposed: PADDD has been considered by relevant authorities, but has not passed into law.

Year Gazetted

The year in which the PA was legally established.
If only decade is known, use the midpoint (i.e. 1990s -> 1995)

Year PADDDed

For enacted PADDD: The year in which PADDD was legally authorized.
For proposed PADDD: The year in which PADDD was first proposed.
If only decade is known, use the midpoint (ie 1990s -> 1995)

Oil and Gas

The proximate cause of PADDD. More…
Conservation Planning — part of a process to enhance the conservation efficiency/efficacy of a group of PAs More…
Degradation — degradation of ecological, biophysical, touristic, symbolic, or other functions such that PA no longer fulfills intended purpose. More…
Fisheries — wild-capture fishing operations. More…
Forestry — forestry or logging operations. More…
Industrial Agriculture — industrial scale (mechanized) agriculture operations (includes aquaculture). More…
Industrialization — industrial scale production or delivery of goods. More…
Infrastructure — structures and activities that form the system of public works. More…
Land Claims — restoration of full or partial rights to indigenous or other peoples. More…
Mining — mining operations (including all minerals and coal). More…
Oil and Gas — exploration or extraction of fossil fuels (excludes coal; see mining). More…
Refugee Accommodation — settlement or accommodation of refugees or IDPs. More…
Rural Settlements — legal authorization of previously prohibited rural habitation. More…
Shifting Sovereignty — change in sovereignty of a parcel of land among nation-states, states/provinces, or local political jurisdictions. More…
Subsistence — small scale artisanal (non-industrial) extraction and production activities.More…
Other — Any cause not provided above.More…

Area PADDDed
6 610.00 km2

For enacted PADDD: area no longer protected due to downsizing or degazettement; area of reduced protection due to downgrading.
For proposed PADDD: proposed area no longer protected due to downsizing or degazettement; proposed area of reduced protection due to downgrading.
Please ensure your data is in km2.

Size Pre-PADDD
7 800.00 km2

For enacted PADDD: size of PA before PADDD occurred.
For proposed PADDD: size of PA when PADDD was proposed.
Please ensure your data is in km2.

Size Post-PADDD
7 800.00 km2

For enacted PADDD: size of PA after PADDD has occurred.
For proposed PADDD: size of PA if PADDD proposal was to be enacted.
Please ensure your data is in km2.

IUCN Category Pre-PADDD

For enacted PADDD: IUCN category of protected area before PADDD occurred.
For proposed PADDD: IUCN category of protected area when PADDD was proposed.

IUCN Category Post-PADDD

For enacted PADDD: IUCN category of protected area after PADDD occurred.
For proposed PADDD: IUCN category of protected area if proposal was enacted.

PADDD Reversed?

For enacted PADDD: was the legal change later reversed?
For proposed PADD: was the proposal later withdrawn?

Year Reversed

Year PADDD was reversed or withdrawn.

PADDD Offset?

For enacted PADDD: was a different parcel of land protected to explicitly offset PADDD?
For proposed PADDD: are there plans to protect a different parcel of land to explicitly offset PADDD?

Systemic Change?

For enacted PADDD: was this instance of PADDD a part of a change that affected multiple PAs at the same time?
For proposed PADDD: is this part of a proposal involving multiple PAs at the same time?

Supporting Details
Cause: Oil and gas

Details: "It emerged publicly in 2010 that SOCO International had signed a contract covering Bloc V of the Albertine Rift. Bloc V contains a sizeable chunk of the Virunga National Park. The company has published details of its plans in Virunga at (last accessed 29 April 2013)" (Global Witness 2013, Hogg 2011).

"Congo has allocated oil concessions over 85% of the Virunga park but Soco International is now the only company seeking to explore inside its boundaries. This year [2013] Unesco called for the cancellation of all Virunga oil permits (Vidal 2013).

On 8 March 2012 Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders described the exploration in Virunga as "contrary to Congolese legislation and international commitments. Conservation organisations, including UNESCO, have opposed moves to allow London-listed oil company SOCO International to explore for oil in Virunga National Park, arguing that this breaches Congo's environmental laws as well as the Convention on World Heritage, to which Congo is a signatory"(Global Witness 2013).

(Temporary?) Reveral: In March 2011, D.R.Congo announced a suspension of all oil exploration in Africa's oldest national park, blocking attempts by British oil company Soco to search for oil there, the government said on Thursday [March 2011].

Congo's environment minister Jose Endundo, said in an open letter to environmentalists, dated March 14th, that all oil exploration within the park was suspended. "We have rejected the recommendations of an environmental impact assessment conducted by the oil company, Soco, which we consider premature, superficial and does not conform to the standards we expect," the minister said in the letter (Hogg 2011).

Detailed notes about the PADDD event. Wherever possible, use block quotes from sources.

  • Hogg, J. (2011, March 17). Congo confirms Virunga park oil ban, thwarts Soco. Retrieved from

  • Global Witness. 2013. Congo-Kinshasa: Oil Law Before Congo Parliament Fails to Safeguard Against Corruption or Environmental Damage. May 9.

All sources used in the "Supporting Details". Please provide date accessed for all URLs.

PADDD in: This Protected Area  |  This Country
Virunga National Park, Downgrade, Proposed, 2010
Albert National Park, Downgrade, Enacted, 1942
Virunga National Park, Downsize, Proposed, 2015