Where is the Congo Rainforest?
The Congo rainforest is located in Central Africa, and spreads across six countries – Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. It covers an area approximately equal to that of the United States.
What can you find in the Congo Rainforest?
One-fifth of all plants on earth can be found in this environment. The forest also occupies home to 80% of Africa’s animal and bird species as well as some 3,000 different trees. Unfortunately, at least three people per minute are affected by deforestation, which equates to more than 12million people every year.
The Congo rainforest is the world’s second-largest and second-most biologically diverse rainforest after the Amazon rainforest (which, as many may know, spans across eight countries: Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname). The Congo basin is home to more than 10 percent of the world’s known animal species.
The Congo Rainforest is a Carbon Sink
It is also an excellent carbon sink – it stores more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem on Earth (120 billion tons; that’s about 2 1/2 times that stored in all forests combined). This means that by protecting this forest we can help to reverse global warming.
Who lives in the Congo Rainforest?
It also provides a haven for endangered species such as gorillas and elephants and is home to a number of indigenous groups including the Baka, Mbuti, and Kanga. The Congo is home to one of the last populations of wild mountain gorillas.
It is estimated that 22 million people live within the Congo Basin rainforest. With around 165 million hectares of forest, it provides many important resources for these communities – including food (plantains, cassava), shade (cedar wood) and building materials (mahogany).
Which tribes live in the Congo Rainforest?
Pygmy means “dwarf” in Greek and the indigenous people of the forest fall into this category. The word “pygmy” is widely considered to be derogatory and it should be avoided, especially because there are at least three distinct groups who have historically been labelled as such.
Amongst these are the Aka people of Congo, known for their great height (the men are on average 5’4″), hunting prowess, unique music and dance traditions. They can also play three different kinds of drums- with different sounds- all at once
Also found in the rainforest are two other pygmy peoples – Biaka who live in the eastern DRC and Mbuti who live in the Ituri forest of north-eastern DRC. With the exception of the Aka, most Pygmies are sedentary agriculturalists.
What animals are found in the Congo Rainforest?
Also known as the “Forest Elephant” the Okapi has an extraordinarily long tongue – up to 51cm in length! But it is not just its tongue that makes this animal special, but also its long blue tongue with pink spots and stripes – similar to a giraffe’s. The Okapi can be found throughout central Africa where it lives in dense rainforests and eats tree leaves, grasses and fruits.
And then there are lions…yes they live in the Congo too! Despite their name, lions today almost exclusively live in East Africa (primarily Tanzania), but there was once a time when lions roamed throughout central Africa.
How has the Congo Rainforest been affected by climate change?
The Congo rainforest is extremely sensitive to climate change, and therefore its survival will be impacted if global temperatures rise. For example, an increase in temperature of just 1C can lead to a 40% decline in gorilla numbers. Increased rainfall has also led to increased outbreaks of ebola (which can wipe out entire populations).
What are some current threats facing the Congo Rainforest?
A lack of infrastructure (there are no roads or railways) isolates communities along with loss of habitat due to mining operations both legal and illegal logging poachers ivory trade illegal fishing deforestation government instability and conflict with
Is Deforestation Happening in the Congo Rainforest?
Yes, unfortunately, it is. Deforestation has many environmental implications including soil erosion, reduced biodiversity and water quality. It also leads to the loss of valuable resources such as honey, medicinal plants and fresh fruit.
Deforestation is having a negative impact on local people’s lives with reduced agricultural land leading to less food security. For example in Cameroon 50% of villagers are now leaving their homes due to reduced crop size caused by deforestation. Experts estimate that forests provide up to 40% of all Africans.
The Congo Rainforest is a Complex Ecosystem
The Congo is one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. Within the ecosystem are several sub-ecosystems including marshland, rivers, lakes, floodlands, and wetlands. The Congo River itself runs through the heart of the forest for nearly 4,000 miles (6,437km) – it is estimated that this equates to around half its total length. The Congo River is the second largest river in Africa and contains 20% of the world’s fresh water. Scientists estimate that around 2,500 fish species live within it – this is more than any other river on Earth.
What is the Congo River?
The Congo river is sometimes referred to as the “river of freedom”. It was named by early European explorers who sailed thousands of miles into the heart of Africa looking for a sea route to India and South East Asia. Upon getting to know this mighty river, they saw it as a way out – a path to great fortune and prosperity.
However, what they found could not have been more different from their imagination. They met people with complex cultures who had little interest in leaving the forest, let alone trading commodities with foreign merchants. The Europeans realized that there was no faster route to riches here- only poverty and obstacles which would need great efforts overcome.
What will happen if we lose this rainforest?
If deforestation continues at its current rate then experts have estimated that there will be very little left of the forest by 2040. This would have a huge impact on local communities who rely on it for their survival – not only for food supplies but also to provide employment. It will also have a huge impact on our environment with increased global warming being just one example.What is being done to protect this rainforest?
A number of organisations are working to protect the Congo Rainforest – not only to reverse deforestation but also to ensure sustainable development. For example, Conservation International has been working with indigenous groups for over 20 years and manages a project designed to help local communities manage the rainforest sustainably.
The United Nations Rainforest Protection Fund (UNRPF) was established in 2009 specifically aims at addressing issues of deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries. In particular it works directly with governments of developing nations on issues such as national policy reform, legal frameworks and institutional strengthening. The UNRPF hopes that by doing so it can actually provide effective protection of forests from within these nations themselves.