CONGO: oil company SNPC to plant 50,000 hectares of trees on the Batéké Plateaux

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CONGO: oil company SNPC is to plant 50,000 hectares of trees on the Batéké Plateaux © AMNPIX/Shutterstock

On the sidelines of the Three Basins Summit that has just ended in Brazzaville, Congo, the Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo (SNPC) has launched its "Eco Zamba" project to restore Congo's forest cover and offset some of the environmental impact of oil production.

At a time when oil exploitation is being singled out by environmentalists as one of the causes of deforestation in the Congo Basin, the Congolese National Petroleum Company (SNPC) has announced the launch of the “Eco Zamba” project initiated by the Congolese government. As part of the project, the company will take charge of 50,000 hectares of savannah on the Batéké Plateaux, on the border between the Republic of Congo and Gabon.

“This is a crucial step towards our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050. This project is a testament to our determination to combine our oil activities with the preservation of the environment,” explains Maixent Raoul Ominga, SNPC’s Managing Director. Over the next ten years, the Congolese state-owned oil company will plant trees on at least 40,000 hectares “to combat greenhouse gas emissions”, according to the group.

Developing agroforestry

At the same time, 10,000 hectares will be used for agroforestry activities, through the planting of tree species “adapted to economic use”. According to the SNPC, the development of agroforestry will lead to an expansion of the local economy, the development of agricultural sectors and, “ultimately, a new, labour-intensive forestry industry”.

Read also- UGANDA: Total starts drilling for oil in Murchison Falls National Park

As part of the Eco Zamba project, SNPC has enlisted the services of Forest Resources Management (FRM), based in Mauguio, France. The pilot phase of the project is due to start by the end of 2023, with the planting of 1,000 hectares of forest consisting mainly of acacia and eucalyptus trees and a variety of fruit trees.

An ecological compensation scheme

“By growing acacia and eucalyptus, we will fertilise the soil. The project also aims to produce carbon credits and create a large number of jobs,” explained Bernard Cassagne, Managing Director of FRM, after signing the partnership agreement with Maixent Raoul Ominga, Managing Director of SNPC.

On the Batéké Plateaux, FRM is also working with the French company TotalEnergies, which operates the Moho Nord, Moho-Bilondo, Nkossa, Nsoko II, Yanga and Sendji oil fields. As part of its ecological compensation programme, the oil company has launched the “Batéké Carbon Sink” afforestation programme, which aims to plant 40,000 hectares of trees on the Batéké Plateaux in 2021.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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