The Norwegian government promises up to USD 47 million (NOK 400 million) each year from 2016 to 2020, for the preservation of the world’s second largest rainforest – the Congo Basin.
The lush rainforest in Central African covers an area of nearly 2 million square kilometers – more than five times the size of Norway. The Congo Basin, whose rainforest is second only to that of the Amazon in size, represents 18% of all the rainforests in the world.
The vast Congo Basin rainforest extends across seven countries. 90 million people live in this region and are dependent on the rainforest
About 60% of the forest can be found in DR Congo, which is where the main focus will be. Half of the tropical rainforest in DR Congo is primary forest: old-growth forest that has not been logged.
The Congo River is the second largest in the world by discharge, winding through Central Africa and providing water and life to the rainforest. The rainforest of the Congo Basin is home to 600 different species of trees and about 10,000 animal species. The area stores 8% of all the carbon present in the world’s forests.
In DR Congo alone, some 40 million of the country’s 70 million inhabitants depend on the rainforest for their livelihood. DR Congo is also home to 2 million indigenous people, a group collectively known as Pygmies.
Central African Forest Initiative
The funding is a result is a result of the joint Declaration on the Central African Forest Initiative (Cafi), which gathers a large group of donors, forest countries and international organizations. It is the first time such a large group coming together to slow the destruction in the world’s second largest rainforest area.
According to the UN’s latest report on the state of the world’s forests, over 5,600 square kilometers of rainforest are destroyed each year in the Congo Basin. Deforestation of the world’s tropical forests causes substantial greenhouse gas emissions each year.
The money will be used to support investment plans to limit deforestation and forest degradation in the region. Fortunately deforestation in the Congo Basin is still relatively low compared to deforestation in South America and Southeast Asia, but recent studies from the World Resources Institute suggests that deforestation in the region increases.
The hope is that with these funds progress will be made to reduce the destruction of the Congo Basin rainforest.