WRI began working in Central Africa ten years ago and has since built an extensive on-the-ground presence to contribute to the development of sustainable forest management in the region.
The following video introduction by Pierre Méthot, Program Manager for WRI’s Forest Information and Governance Initiative in Central Africa, is the first in a series of pieces examining WRI’s expanding role in this important region:
Stretching across six countries, the Congo Basin contains the second largest contiguous tropical forest in the world and is home to a wealth of biodiversity and wildlife populations. In addition to serving the livelihoods of the estimated 30 million people living in the region, the Basin’s forests absorb atmospheric carbon, thereby mitigating global warming.
The health of this rich ecosystem, however, is under increasing strain.
Industrial logging is expanding across the region due to mounting local and international demand for the Congo Basin’s forest resources, particularly from Asian markets. Moreover, as continued infrastructure improvements enhance forest accessibility, forest degradation and fragmentation is accelerating in even the most remote areas.
Alongside the Amazon and Southeast Asia, Central Africa has consequently become a focal point for tropical deforestation, which currently accounts for 20% of global carbon emissions. While not yet experiencing the high rates of deforestation seen in the other two regions, Central Africa will likely face similar levels as demand and populations increase.
In August, I traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo with colleagues in the People and Ecosystems Program to visit our local offices in Kinshasa and Brazzaville and interview regional partners in government, NGOs, civil society, and the private sector.
The experience illuminated both the breadth of WRI’s work as well as the collaborative framework that has been established between WRI and its partners to produce a set of informational tools to support transparency and decision-making processes in order to protect biodiversity, strengthen forest management, and combat the illegal, unsustainable exploitation of forest resources.
To learn more about WRI’s forest work in the Congo Basin and elsewhere around the globe, click here.