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Gegli news - destroying Banco National Park - 7/24/2022 8:10:49 PM 8:10:49 PM 

After losing around 85% of its forest cover over


Banco National Park in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic hub, is one of the world’s last primary rainforests to survive within a major metropolis. This endangered gem of lush greenery, which provides the city with fresh air and drinking water, is at the center of government efforts to promote ecotourism.

After losing around 85% of its forest cover over the past 60 years, Ivory Coast vowed to protect what remains. Ivorian authorities have turned this park into a poster child of their conservation efforts, but this has pitted conservationists against residents of nearby neighborhoods whose ancestors once owned the land — and against the informal workers operating in the protected area. Both groups agree the forest needs to be protected but feel excluded by the government’s approach.

Within the park boundaries, people work in a junkyard where the skeletons of thousands of disused vans, buses and taxis spread out endlessly. “We’re asked to protect the forest and leave, but without receiving land to settle in,” said Amara Camara, a local mechanic. Unregulated urban expansion has led to landfills that contaminate the park’s springs and poachers that hunt the pangolins, chimpanzees and other species populating it.

The authorities bear responsibility for park degradation, too. A high-voltage power line built decades ago cut the northeastern part of the park, and mechanics settled in the cleared area underneath. Alongside the newly erected wall surrounding the park, a 20-yard-wide strip of forest was recently razed for a road.

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