Friday, June 26, 2015

Lax Rules Put Congo's Forests, Key Carbon Reserve, at Risk

Without new conservation efforts, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could lose up to 20 percent of its forests, unleashing a 60 percent increase in carbon emissions, says a new study by researchers at the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.

Favorability for protected areas estimated by rural population density and carbon biomass. (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Published by PLOS ONE, the study explores Central Africa's tropical forests, which are among the world's largest carbon reserves.  While these forests have historically experienced low deforestation rates, pressures to clear land are growing due to development, foreign investment in agriculture, and shifting land use management, particularly in the DRC.

DRC has the greatest area of intact African forests, which store approximately 22 billion tons of carbon in aboveground live biomass.  However, only 10 percent of its forests are protected, says UVM's Gillian Galford, the study's lead author.

"Our findings show that the current approach to forest management is insufficient to protect African forests and their carbon storage," says Galford, a Gund Fellow and professor in UVM's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Read more at Lax Rules Put Congo's Forests, Key Carbon Reserve, at Risk

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