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)
    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

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora