Monday, August 12, 2013

Are we losing primary forests in the Congo Basin?

Ilona Zhuravleva and other authors in Environmental Research Web: A new study by a group of scientists and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) reveals primary-forest degradation and loss within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The researchers assessed primary-forest changes at the national scale and modelled potential changes assuming that population growth, logging activity and maintenance infrastructure will remain the same. The analysis was based on mid-resolution satellite imagery and results of forest cover/change detection assessment of intact forest landscapes – an approach that allowed the team to analyse intact and non-intact or degraded primary forests separately. The results show that almost 1% of primary forests have been cleared and that 2% of intact forests are degraded.

Intact primary-forest degradation rates are high in Nord-Kivu, Equateur and Kasai-Occidental provinces. Between 2000–2005 and 2005–2010, losses have increased and primary-forest degradation in protected areas has been significantly less. In logging areas, on the other hand, it has been much higher than for the rest of the country. At the same time, primary-forest loss has been much less within protected areas and likely the same in logged regions....

Elephants in the Congo Basin forest, shot by Thomas Breuer, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

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