Today marks the last day of Forestry Month on the blog! We hope you have enjoyed these brief glimpses into the conservation efforts of different countries around the world. If you have connected with any of these organizations, or were already working with one, please let us know about your projects! Don’t forget to check back on Friday to find out what March’s theme is!
The Congo Basin
Gorilla in the Congo Basin (Photo credit: AP Images)
The Congo Basin is the world’s second-largest tropical forest next to the Amazon. In fact, the 1.5 million square mile Congo Basin, shared by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, represents 70% of the African continent’s plant cover. The Congo Basin has over 600 tree species and 10,000 animal species. Unfortunately, this diversity is severely threatened by commercial logging, subsistence agriculture, and civil strife.
The World Wildlife Fund is working on conservation in the Congo Basin on several different levels. To learn more about their progress, check out their website. It includes information about current conservation efforts and future goals.
The Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) was established in 2008 in partnership with the Central Africa Forests Commission and the United Kingdom Department for International Development. The organization works on issues such as forest management, sustainable practices, and economic development. They hope to help the entire Congo Basin, including its approximately 80 million inhabitants, but particularly the most vulnerable groups: women and Indigenous Peoples.
Inherent in forest degradation is the destruction and loss of habitat and species. Congo gorillas are an especially endangered group, threatened by poaching and bushmeat hunting in addition to habitat loss. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is working to protect these gorillas, in part through a program in partnership with the Bronx Zoo’s Congo Gorilla Forest. The program connects zoogoers to conservations in the field who have been studying gorillas in the Republic of Congo for decades. In addition, the Wildlife Conservation Society is also working in the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Working with the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, WCS is working towards “ensuring conservation of its [the Ituri Forest] rich biodiversity while alleviating human poverty.”
Canopy walkway, Kakum Forest, Ghana
Southern Ghana contains the largest concentration of trees in the country, as much of the rest of the country is a savanna, covered by grasses, shrubs and a few trees. Though hardwood forests covered much more of Ghana a couple centuries ago, less than 40% of this forest remains, and more is lost each year. Timber harvesting, clearing for agriculture and drought have contributed to the deforestation.
In order to combat this deforestation and the attendant habitat and species loss, the Ghana Wildlife Society has helped create the Afadjato Community Forest Conservation Project, which seeks to help local communities conserve and sustainably maintain the biodiversity and aesthetics of selected areas of the Afadjato and Agumatsa Ranges, as well as provide people with alternative income sources. The program includes strategies such as establishing a community nature reserve, training the local community, and promoting the area as an eco-tourism site, among other things.
Another organization working in Ghana on forest conservation is the Rufford Small Grants Foundation, which has funded several projects in the country. By clicking on the interactive map, you can learn more about over two dozen different projects. One of the amazing projects being carried out right now is “The Tafi Monkey: Community empowerment and wildlife conservation in the Tafi monkey sanctuary.” Another example is the “Community Mangrove Regeneration and Sustainable Utilisation of Wetland Resources at Tekpekope in the Songor Ramsar Site,” which “aims to undertake community conservation and restoration of degraded wetlands ecosystem through mangrove planting, alternative livelihood programs/poverty reduction, education/training and eddicient resource utilisation.” For the titles and descriptions of numerous programs across Ghana, check out their site.