The Congo rainforest is known as the guts of darkness, the Congo region has long conjured up thoughts of pygmies, mythical beasts, dreadful plagues, and cannibals. it’s a land made famous by the adventures of Stanley and Livingstone and referred to as an area of brutality and violence for its past — the times of the Arab slave and ivory trade, its long history of tribal warfare — and its present — the ethnic violence and massacres of today.
The Congo is that the Earth’s second-largest river by volume, draining a neighborhood of three .7 million square kilometers (1.4 million square miles) referred to as the Congo Basin. Much of the basin is roofed by rich tropical rainforests and swamps. Together these ecosystems structure the majority of Central Africa’s rainforest, which at 178 million hectares (2005) is that the world’s second-largest rainforest.
While nine countries (Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia) have a part of their territory within the Congo Basin, conventionally six countries with extensive forest cover within the region are generally related to the Congo rainforest: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. (Technically most of Gabon and parts of the Republic of Congo are within the Ogooue basin, while an outsized chunk of Cameroon is within the Sanaga River Basin). of those six countries, DRC contains the most important area of rainforest, with 107 million hectares, amounting to 60 percent of Central Africa’s lowland forest cover.
This data is from Global Forest Watch 2020 employing a 30 percent tree cover thresh hold. All figures are hectares. the info includes tropical forest cover starting from tropical dry forests to tropical rainforests.
The Congo rainforest is understood for its high levels of biodiversity, including quite 600 tree species and 10,000 animal species. a number of its most famous residents include forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, okapi, leopards, hippos, and lions. a number of these species have a big role in shaping the character of their forest home. for instance, researchers have found that Central African forests generally have taller trees but the lower density of small trees than forests within the Amazon or Borneo.
The reason? Elephants, gorillas, and enormous herbivores keep the density of small trees very low through predation, reducing competition for giant trees. But in areas where these animals are depleted by hunting, forests tend to be shorter and denser with small trees. Therefore, it should not be surprising that old-growth forests in Central African Republic store huge volumes of carbon in their vegetation and tree trunks (39 billion tons, consistent with a 2012 study), serving as a crucial buffer against global climate change .
Central Africa’s deforestation rate between 1990-2010 was rock bottom of any major forest region within the world. However, deforestation trended upward during the 2010s with expansion of commercial logging and conversion for large-scale agriculture.
The biggest drivers of deforestation within the Congo rainforest over the past 30 years are small-scale subsistence agriculture, clearing for charcoal and fuelwood, urban expansion, and mining. Industrial logging has been the most important driver of forest degradation. However, it is vital to not understate the impact of logging within the region. Logging roads have opened vast areas of the Congo to commercial hunting, resulting in a poaching epidemic in some areas and a quite 60 percent drop by the region’s forest elephant population in but a decade. Furthermore, logging roads have provided access to speculators and small-holders who clear land for agriculture.
Looking forward, the most important threats to the Congo rainforest come from industrial plantations, especially for vegetable oil , rubber, and sugar production.
Forest cover within the Congo Basin Forest loss within the Congo Basin
Forest loss within the Congo Basin Annual primary forest loss and tree cover loss within the Congo Basin since 2002.
Annual primary forest loss and tree cover loss within the Congo Basin since 2002.
Relative to other great rainforests, the Congo Basin is understood for giant, charismatic species of wildlife, including the lowland gorilla; the okapi, a kind of forest giraffe; the bonobo; forest elephants; the chimpanzee; leopards; and hippos.