Fifty years is all it would take to destroy two-thirds of the forests in the Congo River Basin. Currently, about 3.7 million acres of forest each year is lost to logging, agriculture, and road development (among other things). In a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report, Laurent Somé, WWF’s Central African Regional Office Director, briefly touches on some of the problems associated with deforestation:
“Tropical forest is vanishing at a rate of 5 percent a decade, wrecking habitats and releasing 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, which is a fifth of global greenhouse emissions.”
The WWF report further elaborates:
“The region is blanketed by a patchwork quilt of logging concessions. While the logging itself is usually selective and does little damage, the associated roads, infrastructure and migration degrade surrounding landscape and result in massive wildlife depletion.”
Recent posts have raised the important issue that deforestation and habitat destruction are contributing to the spread of Ebola — in which the importance of forests could not be clearer. The WWF and other organizations (like the Wildlife Conservation Society) are working to promote awareness of this severe situation in hopes of saving the land and its inhabitants. Reuters UK reports that the WWF, which in the past two decades has protected millions of acres, is in the process of gaining 300,000 more protected acres in the next few months.