In the center of the African continent, an immense and vital forest currently thrives. As the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest, the Congo Basin covers six countries and around 500 million acres–an area one-fourth the size of the contiguous U.S. It is a haven for both human and natural diversity, hosting more than 150 different ethnic groups and one-fifth of all Earth’s species. It directly supports the livelihoods of the 60 million people who live in or near forest areas and feeds 40 million people who live in adjacent cities. And, as the planet’s largest remaining carbon sink, it is essential for efforts to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
It is also, increasingly, at risk, as two recent reports warn. One, a first-of-its-kind regional assessment from the Forest Declaration Assessment, found that deforestation in the Congo had increased by nearly 5% in 2021. Another, from Rainforest Foundation UK and EarthInsight, details the threats posed by planned oil and gas extraction in the region.
“The Congo Basin Forest is at a crossroads,” lead author of the first report and senior consultant at Climate Focus Marion Ferrat says in a press release shared with Treehugger. “Deforestation has been low compared to other tropical regions, but we are seeing an upward trend of fragmentation and forest loss since 2020. If this trend continues, we risk losing the largest remaining intact forest in the tropics along with its immense and irreplaceable value for biodiversity, climate, and people.” [Continue reading…]