"Mining, Conflict, and Conservation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: A Complex Interplay"
The protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo's conflict-affected eastern provinces are facing significant threats from artisanal and semi-industrial mining.
This mining results in negative impacts on biodiversity, deforestation, soil degradation, water pollution, and increased resource exploitation, while also sparking conflict between different state branches, entrepreneurs, local populations, and miners.
Mining is widespread in these areas due to its economic importance, generating income for citizens, officials, and armed actors.
The recent increase in semi-industrial mining, often run by Chinese entrepreneurs, has also enriched the Congolese army and the mining administration. The involvement of high-level officials and the importance of mining income make it difficult to stop destructive mining, and closing down operations without offering alternatives may lead to violent banditry.
The Congolese agency for nature conservation lacks the resources to effectively manage protected areas, and different branches of the state having conflicting views further complicate the situation.