Brief: The Congo Basin, urgent need to save earth’s second lung

An aerial view of Garamba forest in Haute Uele region of northeastern Congo February 21, 2009.

The Congo Basin is an entire ecosystem made up of rivers, savannas, wildlife, and more than 10,000 varieties of tropical plants.

And above all, this basin shelters a forest: the biggest tropical forest in the world after the Amazon. As the world’s ecological lung, it is threatened by deforestation and degradation of wildlife, which are occurring at an accelerated pace.

Logging, farming and armed conflict still menace Africa’s jungles, which include the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest after the Amazon, but analysts are increasingly hopeful its remaining wilds can be rescued.

According to a report by environmental protection group, Greenpeace, every year approximately 3 million cubic meters of timber leave the Congo Basin to Chinese cities with considerable amounts resulting from illegal logging.

This practice which is contrary to the applicable standards of protection is made possible by the absence of China’s legislation banning the import of illegal timber, a May 2016 report by the group added.

In September 2017, Cameroon president Paul Biya made the Congo Basin a key part of his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

“For Africa, there are two major challenges. Firstly, ongoing forest degradation in Central Africa. Let us save the Congo Basin, the earth’s second lung.

“Secondly, the desertification of Lake Chad, which is drying up. This vast body of water, which is essential for the survival of communities and biodiversity, has already lost 90% of its initial surface. Let us save Lake Chad!

“By so doing, we will be contributing towards preserving the planet for the greater good of humanity,” he said at the time.

 

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