Its great to see our readers interest in learning more about our endangered tropical forests. As part of the forest series, we present to you the Congo Basin, also referred to as the heart of Africa!
Deep in the heart of the Africa lies the world’s second largest tropical forest, the Congo Basin. It’s a mosaic of rivers, forests, savannas, swamps and flooded forests. Teeming with life, gorillas, elephants and buffalo call the Congo Basin home.
The Congo Basin makes up one of the most important wilderness areas left on Earth. Some of its features include:
- 500 million acres of land, making it larger than Alaska
- one quarter of the world’s tropical forests
- spans across six countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon
The forests provide many benefits including:
- socio-economic value to local communities
- a home for most of Africa’s remaining forest elephants and great apes
- regional climate regulation and water flow
- water quality protection
- timber and many minerals used to create consumer electronics, gold and diamonds
WWF works to halt the loss of forest and freshwater biodiversity. They do this by identifying the most effective and efficient ways to use the land.
WWF continues to strengthen the network of protected areas and conservation partnerships with governments, the private sector and local people. This enables the sound use of natural resources with respect for the rights and needs of indigenous people, and also protects vital species from extinction.
Threats: Forests are threatened by unsustainable timber and mineral extraction (diamonds, gold, oil and coltan). Illegal bush meat trade is the largest threat and is sky rocketing as infrastructure development increases. Learn more
Species: There are approximately 10, 000 species of tropical plants and 30 percent are unique to the region. Endangered wildlife, including forest elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos and lowland and mountain gorillas inhabit the lush forests. 400 other species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds and 700 species of fish can also be found here. Learn more
People: The Congo Basin has been inhabited by humans for more than 50,000 years and it provides food, fresh water and shelter to more than 75 million people. Nearly 150 distinct ethnic groups exist and the region’s Ba’Aka people are among the most well known representatives of an ancient hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Their lives and well-being are linked intimately with the forest. Learn more
Learn more about the Borneo and Sumatra rainforests in the next series.
This content appeared originally on the WWF website.
Image Courtesy: WWF