The Congo basin is home to the world's second largest rainforest (accounting for 18% of the planet's tropical rainforests). It covers an area of 1.5 million square miles and is mainly located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also spans parts of the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic as well as covering areas of Gabon, Cameroon and, Equatorial Guinea. The rainforest, which millions depend on the forest for food, medicine and shelter, is today subject to the highest deforestation rates of any place on earth.
The reasons are simple; firstly, heavily indebted nations such as the Republic of Congo can help make payments towards that debt through the timber trade, locals use the forests for burning fuel and, given the paucity of much of arable land in many of the countries in the basin, land clearance creates more opportunities for subsistence farming. It is estimated that at current rates the rainforest will have largely disappeared within the next century. This isn't just bad news for the planet, but for the forest dwellers and others who lives are dependent on the rainforest for food and lifestyle. Currently the rainforest has more than 11,000 species of plants, 450 mammals, 1150 birds, 300 reptiles, and 200 amphibians most of whom will be at risk should the current levels of deforestation prevail.
Equally disturbingly, at the current rate of deforestation, about the same amount of CO2 will be released into the atmosphere by 2050 as the entire CO2 emissions of the UK since the Second World War. This video documentary about the Congo rainforest explores the lifestyle of the rainforest and how deforestation is affecting the lives of many of the sixty million African people its ecosystem supports. The extent of the Congo rainforest is shown in the map below with the dark green of the rainforest stretching from the Democratic Republic of Congo, through the Republic of Congo across Cameroon and into West Africa taking in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and south Central African Republic on its journey. The Republic of Congo rainforest is home to the Pygmy people. For more details about this group and their lives in the rainforest click on the link below.
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