Forest loss and degradation

Forest Loss and Degradation

Forest intact
Congo rain forest, Salonga National Park, prime bonobo habitat

The Congo Basin is a landscape of vast rain forest, stretching west to east from the Atlantic Coast to the mountains of the Albertine Rift. The forest covers approximately 2 million km2, an area about three times the size of France (USAID-CARPE, State of the Forest 2006). The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), alone, holds more than 50% of the Basin’s forest (State of the Forest 2006).

A Mounting Threat to Survival

Loss and degradation of forest habitat present a grave long-term threat to bonobos. At present DRC has one of the lowest rates of forest loss in Central Africa -- current deforestation rates are estimated to be 0.2% per year, although they vary from region to region (USAID-CARPE, State of the Forest 2008). Nevertheless, experts predict that by 2030, 8-9% percent of the country’s forests could be lost (UNEP, 2011). Slash-and burn-agriculture, fuel-wood collection, mining, and commercial logging operations are all major concerns. Road building also plays a significant role in forest fragmentation and exacerbates the bushmeat trade by providing access for hunters into previously remote, inaccessible areas.

For the time being, the forests of the Salonga National Park and surrounding landscape are largely intact. Nevertheless, as economic activity intensifies and infrastructure improves in the region, the rate of forest loss and degradation are expected to increase.

For additional information, please visit the World Resources Institute Forest Atlas of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Cleared field
Slash and burn agriculture
logs on river
Artisanal logging near the National Park
Lumber
Logging operations threaten bonobo habitat

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