Congo Basin Forests – State of the Forests 2021

The report titled “Congo Basin Forests – State of the Forests 2021” was released recently by the Central African Forests Commission.

Key findings

  • Increased investment and research is required for the protection of peatlands in central Congo basin, which are currently under threat because of hydrocarbon exploration, logging, palm oil plantation, hydroelectric dams and climate change.
  • There is also an urgent need to strengthen institutions and frameworks at the national level for the effective application and implementation of international agreements and commitments focusing on the conservation of these vulnerable regions.
  • The conservation of these peatlands is critical as they are capable of storing around 30 gigatones of carbon in a peat. This is equal to the above-ground biomass of trees in the entire Congo basin forest.
  • Also known as the Cuvette Centrale peatlands, the peatlands in the central Congo basin span across the Democratic Republic OF Congo as well as the Republic of Congo.
  • They cover an area of 145,500 square kilometres.
  • They are capable of storing carbon worth of about 20 years of fossil fuel emissions of the United States.
  • The two countries hosting the Cuvette Centrale peatlands will require an increased funding in the near future for researching more about these high-carbon and biodiversity-rich peatland regions.
  • Currently, very little knowledge exists about these ecosystems, including the activities of communities in the region.

What are peatlands?

Peatlands are terrestrial wetland ecosystem formed because of the accumulation of partially decomposed plant remains over thousands of years. The plants are only partially decomposed as waterlogged conditions prevent the complete decomposition. Peatlands are critical for carbon storage as well as the storage and cycling of water and nutrients. They can reduce the risk of climate change and flooding, provide drinking water and safeguard the livelihoods of local communities. International agreements such as Ramsar Convention, United Nations Environmental Assembly Resolution and the Brazzaville Declaration on Peatlands are promoting their sustainable management and conservation.

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