While the world is paying a lot of attention to the Amazon rainforest burning, deforestation is quietly gutting another major forest in the African Congo, thus compounding the threat to our planet.
The nation of Brazil under the anti-environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro has seen a devastating rise in forest fires this year as wannabe farmers try to clear land for cattle ranches to take advantage of the worldwide demand for beef.
The world has been outraged by deforestation, which threatens the global oxygen supply and is dealing with a major setback to the fight against climate change.
And the deforestation in the Amazon comes as President Donald Trump is set to open up the largest temperate rainforest in Alaska, Tongass National Forest, to logging and corporate development. It’s a move that will only perpetuate the climate crisis.
But while everyone is paying attention to the fires in the Amazon, another major forest region is being clear cut in Africa.
The African Congo is rich in timber resources. Demand for these timber resources are rising, resulting in a direct threat to the thick jungles that support an entire ecosystem teeming with plants and wildlife that must be protected at all costs.
Among the endangered species threatened by deforestation include gorillas, elephants, and the white rhino, which scientists are desperately trying to save right now.
Alas, deforestation is increasing here, according to Climate Focus co-founder Charlotte Streck.
“Deforestation has increased rapidly in Africa, coming from a relatively low level, to begin with, but it is rising very quickly but very quietly,” Streck told The Guardian, which reported on the dire situation that is unfolding there.
According to a report on the New York Declaration on Forests, signed in 2014 with the aim of halting deforestation globally by 2030, the new hotspots of increasing forest loss are in west Africa and the Congo basin.
While the greatest losses of forests by area in the years 2014-18 occurred in tropical Latin America, the greatest rate of increase was in Africa, where deforestation rates leapt from less than 2m hectares a year on average from 2001 to 2013, to more than 4m a year from 2014 to 2018. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo rates of deforestation have doubled in the past five years.
Of course, China could play a large role in reducing deforestation in the African Congo by issuing tighter regulations on timber imports.
“African timber is exported to China, and this is one of the three dominant causes of deforestation,” Streck said. “China could act on illegal timber and be very effective, for instance, if the Chinese government put in a requirement on tracing [timber and forest goods].”
2019 could very well be the single worst year of deforestation the world has ever witnessed, and we will all be negatively impacted as species die-off, medicinal plants are destroyed, and the Earth’s primary defense against climate change is ruthlessly cut down to make way for agricultural and fossil fuel industry pursuits. If we are to deal with this problem before it’s too late, nations must take action now.
Featured Image: Wikimedia
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