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Can This Forest Be Saved?

  • Thursday, January 14, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC--African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) joins other members of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) and partners of the U.S. Agency for International Development's Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) in highlighting the U.S. release of the biennial report Forests of the Congo Basin: State of the Forest.

The State of the Forest report documents the overall condition of Central Africa's forest ecosystems, with a special focus on carbon stocks, water resources, and wood energy, and describes key challenges and progress toward slowing the rate of deforestation and loss of biodiversity across the Congo Basin. The report reflects the contributions of over 100 individuals, and serves as the definitive statement on the health of the forests and challenges that lie ahead in conserving them.

Among its many findings, the report highlights the important role large mammals continue to play in the Congo Basin's forest ecosystems and the increase in the size and number of protected areas by Central African administrations since 2002. It also finds that despite its exceptional biodiversity, the region's biodiversity-related tourist sector remains underdeveloped.

CBFP is an association of more than 50 governmental, nongovernmental, and international organizations formed to support the countries of the Congo Basin with financial and technical assistance in their efforts toward sustainable management of the forests.

AWF in the Congo Basin centers its work on a single vast landscape located in the Equator Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of AWF's largest program investments, the Congo Heartland is funded by CARPE, a USAID initiative aimed at promoting sustainable natural resource management in the Congo Basin. CARPE focuses on 12 ecologically sensitive and biologically diverse areas and wildlife areas viewed as the most vulnerable to deforestation and other threats. Together, these landscapes comprise more than 80 million hectares of critically important tropical forest in Central Africa.

In August 2009, the landscape zoning and land use planning approach AWF uses in the area that constitutes its Congo Heartland was formally recognized by the DRC government as the official, pilot approach for the country. Given the close collaboration among Congo Basin partners through CARPE, other regional authorities are likely to follow suit and adopt similar zoning schemes, creating a more unified land use and zoning apparatus for this globally significant region. This constitutes a major achievement for AWF and CARPE.

A member of CBFP, AWF is among the many scientists, policy and technical experts who contributed to the State of the Forest report.

To access the full report, click here.

To learn more about the Congo Heartland, click here.

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