Congo Basin

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Course and drainage basin of the Congo River Congobasinmap.png
Course and drainage basin of the Congo River

The Congo Basin (French : Bassin du Congo) is the sedimentary basin of the Congo River. The Congo Basin is located in Central Africa, in a region known as west equatorial Africa. The Congo Basin region is sometimes known simply as the Congo. It contains some of the largest tropical rainforests in the world.

Contents

8 sites of the Congo Basin are inscribed on the World Heritage List, 5 being also on the list of World Heritage in Danger (all 5 located in DRC). 14% of the humid forest is designated as protected. [1]

Description

Course and drainage basin of the Congo River with countries marked CongoLualaba watershed plain political.png
Course and drainage basin of the Congo River with countries marked

The basin begins in the highlands of the East African Rift system with input from the Chambeshi River, the Uele and Ubangi Rivers in the upper reaches and the Lualaba River draining wetlands in the middle reaches. Due to the young age and active uplift of the East African Rift at the headlands, the river's yearly sediment load is very large but the drainage basin occupies large areas of low relief throughout much of its area. [2] The basin ends where the river empties its load in the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean.

The basin is a total of 3.7 million square kilometers and is home to some of the largest undisturbed stands of tropical rainforest on the planet, in addition to large wetlands.

Congo is a traditional name for the equatorial Middle Africa that lies between the Gulf of Guinea and the African Great Lakes.

Countries wholly or partially in the Congo region:

History

Belgium, France, and Portugal later established colonial control over the entire region by the late 19th century. The General Act of the Berlin Conference of 1885 gave a precise definition to the "conventional basin" of the Congo, which included the entire actual basin plus some other areas. The General Act bound its signatories to neutrality within the conventional basin, but this was not respected during the First World War.

Climate

The climate is equatorial tropical, with two rainy seasons including very high rainfalls, and high temperature year round.

The forests of the Congo Basin affect rainfall across the North Atlantic. In other words, these forests are crucial to the future of climate stability, a bulwark against runaway climate change.

Population

Humans

The basin was the watershed of the Congo River populated by pygmy peoples, and eventually Bantu peoples migrated there and founded the Kingdom of Kongo.

The World Resources Institute estimated that 80 million people live in and around the Congo Basin. [3]

Animals

The Congo forest is home to okapi, bonobo and the Congo peafowl. The basin is home to the endangered western lowland gorilla. In 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme warned that gorillas could be extinct from the Greater Congo Basin in a matter of 15 years.

Forests

Ituri Rainforest Rainforest - Ituri (20874628148).jpg
Ituri Rainforest

The Congo Basin is the largest forest in Africa. 10,000 plant species can be found in and around the forest. [3] The humid forests cover 1.6 million km². [1]

At a global level, Congo's forests act as the planet's second lung, counterpart to the rapidly dwindling Amazon. They are a huge "carbon sink," trapping carbon that could otherwise remain carbon dioxide. The Congo Basin holds roughly 8 percent of the world's forest-based carbon. If these woodlands are deforested, the carbon they trap will be released into the atmosphere. It says that 8% of the Earth's forest-based carbon is stored in the RDC's forests. Predictions for future unabated deforestation estimate that by 2050 activities in the DRC will release roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as the United Kingdom has emitted over the last 60 years.

In 2017, British scientists discovered that peatlands in the Cuvette Centrale, which cover a total of 145,500 sq km, contain 30 billion tonnes of carbon, or 20 years of US fossil fuel emissions. [4]

The Congo Basin is an important source of African teak, used for building furniture and flooring. An estimated 40 million people depend on these woodlands, surviving on traditional livelihoods.

The Global Forest Atlas estimated that the logging industry covers from 44 to 66 million hectares of forest. [3] A study published in 2019 in Nature Sustainability showed that 54,000 miles of roads for forest concessions were built between 2003 and 2018, reaching a total of 143,500 miles. [5]

Protection

A moratorium on logging in the Congo forest was agreed with the World Bank and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC, République Démocratique du Congo) in May 2002. The World Bank agreed to provide $90 million of development aid to RDC with the proviso that the government did not issue any new concessions granting logging companies rights to exploit the forest. The deal also prohibited the renewal of existing concessions. [6]

The government has written a new forestry code that requires companies to invest in local development and follow a sustainable, twenty-five-year cycle of rotational logging. When a company is granted a concession from the central government to log in Congo, it must sign an agreement with the local chiefs and hereditary land owners, who give permission for it to extract the trees in return for development packages. In theory, the companies must pay the government nearly $18 million rent a year for these concessions, of which 40% should be returned to provincial governments for investment in social development of the local population in the logged areas.

In its current form, the Kyoto Protocol does not reward so-called "avoided deforestation"—initiatives that protect forest from being cut down. But many climate scientists and policymakers hope that negotiations for Kyoto's successor will include such measures. If this were the case, there could be a financial incentive for protecting forests.

L’Île Mbiye in Kisangani is part of the Sustainable Forest Management in Africa Symposium project of forest ecosystem conservation conducted by Stellenbosch University. RDC is also looking to expand the area of forest under protection, for which it hopes to secure compensation through emerging markets for forest carbon.

The main Congolese environmental organization working to save the forests is an NGO called OCEAN, which serves as the link between international outfits like Greenpeace and local community groups in the concessions.

A 2013 study by British scientists showed that deforestation in the Congo Basin rainforest was slowing down. [7]

National parks

See also

Related Research Articles

The Democratic Republic of the Congo forms part of the Congo River Basin, which covers an area of almost 1,000,000 square kilometres (390,000 sq mi). The country's only outlet to the Atlantic Ocean is a narrow strip of land on the north bank of the Congo River.

Rainforest Type of forest with high rainfall

Rainforests are forests characterized by high and continuous rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between 2.5 and 4.5 metres and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth's tropical rainforests: which are distinct from monsoonal areas of seasonal tropical forest.

Brazzaville Capital of the Republic of the Congo

Brazzaville is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo. Constituting the financial and administrative centre of the country, it is located on the north side of the Congo River, opposite Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Country in Central Africa

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DROC, the DRC, or simply either Congo or the Congo, and historically Zaire, is a country in Central Africa. It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of around 105 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous officially Francophone country in the world, as well as the 4th-most populous country in Africa and the 15th-most populous country in the world. It is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union, and COMESA. Since 2015, the Eastern DR Congo has been the site of an ongoing military conflict in Kivu.

Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests Habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature

Tropical and subtropical moist forest (TSMF), also known as tropical moist forest, is a tropical and subtropical forest habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The habitat type is sometimes known as jungle.

Tropical rainforest Specific ecosystem

Tropical rainforests are rainforests that occur in areas of tropical rainforest climate in which there is no dry season – all months have an average precipitation of at least 60 mm – and may also be referred to as lowland equatorial evergreen rainforest. True rainforests are typically found between 10 degrees north and south of the equator ; they are a sub-set of the tropical forest biome that occurs roughly within the 28-degree latitudes. Within the World Wildlife Fund's biome classification, tropical rainforests are a type of tropical moist broadleaf forest that also includes the more extensive seasonal tropical forests.

Aka people Nomadic Mbenga pygmy people

The Aka or Bayaka are a nomadic Mbenga pygmy people. They live in southwestern Central African Republic and in northern Republic of the Congo. They are related to the Baka people of Cameroon, Gabon, northern Congo, and southwestern Central African Republic.

Peat swamp forest Tropical moist forests where waterlogged soil prevents dead leaves and wood from fully decomposing

Peat swamp forests are tropical moist forests where waterlogged soil prevents dead leaves and wood from fully decomposing. Over time, this creates a thick layer of acidic peat. Large areas of these forests are being logged at high rates.

Congolian rainforests

The Congolian rainforests are a broad belt of lowland tropical moist broadleaf forests which extend across the basin of the Congo River and its tributaries in Central Africa.

Size of Wales is a climate change charity with the aim of conserving an area of tropical rainforest twice the size of Wales. The project currently supports 7 forest protection projects and 1 tree planting project across Africa and South America. The charity focuses upon furthering the promotion of rainforest conservation as a national response to the global issue of climate change.

Tropical Africa

Although tropical Africa is mostly familiar to the West for its rainforests, this biogeographic realm of Africa is far more diverse. While the tropics are thought of as regions with warm to hot moist climates caused by latitude and the tropical rain belt, the geology of areas, particularly mountain chains, and geographical relation to continental and regional scale winds impact the overall parts of areas, also, making the tropics run from arid to humid in West Africa. The area is experiencing negative effects of rapid human population growth.

The Cuvette Centrale is a region of forests and wetlands in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Some definitions consider the region to extend into the Republic of the Congo as well. The Cuvette Centrale lies in the center of the Congo Basin, and is bounded on the west, north, and east by the arc of the Congo River.

Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests

The Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests, also known as the Congolian coastal forests, are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of central Africa, covering hills, plains, and mountains of the Atlantic coast of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Deforestation by region

Rates and causes of deforestation vary from region to region around the world. In 2009, 2/3 of the world's forests were in just 10 countries: 1) Russia, 2) Brazil, 3) Canada, 4) United States, 5) China, 6) Australia, 7) Congo, 8) Indonesia, 9) India and 10) Peru.

Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park

Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park is a national park in the Republic of the Congo. Established in 1993, in the northern provinces of Congo, it is home to forest elephants, great apes, including western lowland gorillas and the eastern sub-species of chimpanzees and bongo. It is 3,921.61 km2 (1,514.14 sq mi) of pristine tropical rainforest with no human habitation within it and with human population densities in its periphery that are comparatively low for the sub-region. The forests have a rich biodiversity of 300 bird species, plus 1,000 plant and tree species which include endangered mahoganies.

Wildlife of the Central African Republic

Wildlife in the Central African Republic is in the vast natural habitat located between the Congo Basin's rain forests and large savannas, where the human density was smaller than 0.5 per km2 prior to 1850. The forest area of 22.755 million, considered one of the richest storehouses of wildlife spread over national parks, hunting reserves and community hunting areas, experienced an alarming loss of wild life due to greed for ivory and bushmeat exploitation by hunters – mostly Arab slavers from across the borders of the Central African Republic with Chad and Sudan.

Twa Group of African Pygmy peoples

The Twa are a group of indigenous African Pygmy tribes.

African Pygmies Group of ethnicities native to Central Africa

The African Pygmies are a group of ethnicities native to Central Africa, mostly the Congo Basin, traditionally subsisting on a forager and hunter-gatherer lifestyle. They are divided into three roughly geographic groups:

Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a significant transnational issue. In the DRC, forests are cleared for agricultural purposes by utilizing slash and burn techniques.

Northeastern Congolian lowland forests

The Northeastern Congolian lowland forests is a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion that spans the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

References

  1. 1 2 Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Natural World Heritage in the Congo Basin". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  2. Mineral deposits & Earth evolution. Geological Society. 2005. ISBN   978-1-86239-182-6.
  3. 1 2 3 "You can't spell Congo without NGO". Africa Reports. 2021-02-28. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  4. "World's largest tropical peatland found in Congo basin". the Guardian. 2017-01-11. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  5. "Logging road construction has surged in the Congo Basin since 2003". Mongabay Environmental News. 2019-06-24. Retrieved 2021-05-13.
  6. "The Fight to Save Congo's Forests". thenation.com. October 22, 2007.
  7. "Deforestation in Africa's Congo Basin rainforest slows". BBC News. 2013-07-22. Retrieved 2021-05-13.

Coordinates: 0°00′00″N22°00′00″E / 0.0000°N 22.0000°E / 0.0000; 22.0000