The United Nations agency said the Democratic Republic of the Congo scored a major heritage victory on Monday as UNESCO removed one of its nature reserves from its list of threatened sites.
UNESCO praised the country’s conservation efforts and the government’s commitment to ban oil exploration in Salonga, the vast Central African country’s largest public park.
The World Heritage Committee cited “improvements to its conservation status” in its decision, according to a statement Monday.
“Regular monitoring of wildlife shows that bonobos (apes) populations have remained stable in the territory despite past pressures and wild elephant populations are starting to return,” the statement said.
The Congolese Environment Ministry welcomed the move.
It told AFP in a statement that it would be “an opportunity to rethink the management of the peatland in order to quantify its carbon sequestration capacity”.
Salonga is Africa’s largest protected rainforest and is home to 40% of Earth’s bonobos, along with several other endangered species.
It was created in 1970 by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and has been on the endangered list since 1984.
The park is also home to slender-snouted crocodiles and Congolese peacocks.