by Laurent Some
In Central Africa there stands a forest so teeming with wildlife that it seems to belong to another time. The Congo Basin harbours some of the richest concentrations of terrestrial species on the planet, and is the world’s second largest expanse of rainforest after the Amazon.
Dense forest extends over 190 million hectares, covering almost 50% of the Central African landmass, spanning the political boundaries of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The region is home to more than 655 species of birds (36% of which are endemic) and over 10,000 plant species of which 3,000 are unique to the region. The forests are home to about 400 mammal species, including the world’s largest populations of lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and forest elephants.
The darkest jungles of Central Africa that are so steeped in myth and legend, are also one of the most important scientific reservoirs of life known to man. In terms of their importance to the world, the jungles of the Congo Basin cannot be underestimated. Most of the biodiversity of these forests remain threatened and even undiscovered, and apart from the magnificence of their presence, these forests could hold the key to future medical advances in the treatment of human ailments. If well harnessed, it could be an abundant source of clean water and oxygen, energy, wood, fruits and game. The forests could also be the splendour of fauna and flora helping to regulate climate change and at the same time attracting visitors from around the globe.
However, action is needed to conserve these species from going extinct and to protect their habitats. And yet the task of conservation is made more difficult because of growing populations, illegal logging and clearance of land for agriculture.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been working in the forests of Central Africa for over twenty years with a focus on forest conservation through developing and managing protected areas while promoting sustainable forestry practices and community conservation for the benefit of the populations.
In collaboration with the communication service of the North Carolina Zoological Society (USA), the WWF Central African Regional Programme Office (CARPO) is pleased to provide updates of conservation efforts in the sub-region through field stories, features and even images. We do hope that this will be a positive contribution to information exchange as WWF, working in partnership with other organizations, seeks to stop environmental degradation and build a future in which human beings live in harmony with nature.
It would be vital to know what WWF is and what it stands for. The organisation is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation bodies, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 96 countries.
WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a world in which humans live in harmony with nature, by:
- Conserving the world’s biological diversity
- Ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable
- Promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption
For further information about WWF consult http://www.panda.org.
|Be sure to explore Field Trip Earth for more information about the Congo Basin and the critical conservation activity ongoing in that region. Of particular importance are Peter Ngea's La Voix de Lobeke and related articles, as well as field diaries of Dr. Mike Loomis.|
About the author:
Laurent Somé is Regional Representative for the WWF-CARPO project.
Would you like to comment on this article?
View printer-friendly version