News / Africa

Deforestation Slows in Congo Basin

An aerial view of Garamba forest in Haute Uele region of northeastern Congo. (file photo)
An aerial view of Garamba forest in Haute Uele region of northeastern Congo. (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
Selah Hennessy
— Tree loss in the Congo Basin rainforest is slowing down, according to a new study published Monday.  The Congo Basin rainforest is the world's second largest, after the Amazon, and scientists say the study is good news for the global environment.

"What we saw is in the 1990s about 285,000 hectares each year removed over Central Africa.  And this has declined by over 100,000 hectares in the 2000s.  So there was a big drop in deforestation rate in Central Africa between the 1990s and the 2000s, which is quite a surprising result," said Simon Lewis from the University College London.

The study, which is based on analysis of satellite images, shows the deforestation rate in the Congo Basin is lower than in other major tropical forest region in the world.

Lewis said this may in part be because of how Central African countries have developed their economies.  They were highly dependent, he said, on oil and mineral wealth, and were investing less in agricultural expansion.

"They are oriented towards those commodities rather than expanding agriculture.  So we have not seen the big increase in industrial agriculture like we have seen in the Amazon for soya and in South-east Asia for palm oil.  That is not yet happening on a large scale in Central Africa hence these lower deforestation rates," said Lewis.

But he said that could well be changing.  He said Central Africa was at a pivotal moment with rising populations, growing demand for food and increased living standards.  As these shifts drive demand for commodities from agricultural land deforestation is likely to rise.

"In the Amazon and in Southeast Asia really large areas of what were rainforests have been converted to do this industrial-scale agriculture and there are the first signs that this might be coming to Central Africa," said Lewis.

The study was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B and is part of a series on African forests.

Another study found the trees in the Congo Basin are unique. 

Lewis said they were "more grand and more majestic" than had previously been realized.

The experts measured more than 100,000 trees and found that African species are on average much larger than in the Amazon. 

British-based Resource Extraction Monitoring director Stuart Wilson has been observing the logging industry in Central Africa for several years. Wilson said they were good for the environment, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and so slowing the rate of climate change.

He said Monday's study was good news.  But he warned despite logging regulations in many Central African countries, controls were not in place to protect the rain forest.  He said governments, and the internatioal community, needed to do more to make sure trees were protected.

"Each of the countries, if it is Congo Brazzaville or Cameroon or Central African Republic, they are all facing massive governance problems.  If you take the DRC, for example, the government simply is not present in two-thirds of the country.  There is no law enforcement," said Wilson.

The Congo Basin covers more than two million square kilometers.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid