The Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) is second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo in terms of tropical rainforest coverage among African countries. It is also strikingly diverse for its size—home to 597 species of birds, 166 mammals, 58 amphibians, 149 reptiles, and more than 6,000 species of plants.
||Congo Forest Figures
Total forest area: 22,471,000 ha
% of land area: 65.8%
Primary forest cover: 7,464,000 ha
% of land area: 21.9%
% total forest area: 33.2%
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -17,000 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.1%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 0.8%
Total forest loss since 1990: -255,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-1.1%
Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: -5600 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.1%
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: 0.7%
Primary forest loss since 1990: -28,000 ha
Primary forest loss since 1990:-1.1%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 7.4%
None or unknown: n/a
Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 22,471,000 ha
Primary: 7,464,000 ha
Modified natural: 14,957,000 ha
Production plantation: 51,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a
Plantations, 2005: 51,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 0.2%
Annual change rate (00-05): n/a
Above-ground biomass: 8,356 M t
Below-ground biomass: 2,005 M t
Area annually affected by
Fire: 17,000 ha
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 334
Critically endangered: n/a
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 1,450,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 1,317,000 m3 o.b.
Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $222,545,000
Wood fuel: $20,091,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $242,636,000
More forest statistics for Congo
Congo's forests are highly threatened by logging, colonization of forest lands, and poaching of animal species. Industrial logging has accelerated since the government privatized the timber industry, and much of the new exploitation is taking place in the relatively untouched forests of northern Congo, not in the easily accessible southern region where timber harvesting has historically taken place.
The Republic of Congo was once one of Africa's largest petroleum producers, but with declining production it may increasingly look towards its forests as a source of revenue.
While the government of Congo likes to claim that it has a sustainable forest policy and has introduced legislation to limit what species can be extracted from its forests, reports from the ground indicate that logging companies may largely ignore these regulations and log intensely. Further, illegal logging is a well-documented problem, and corruption undermines even the most basic enforcement efforts.
The hunting of wild game is a major conservation concern in Congo. Bushmeat hunting proliferates in logging camps and along logging roads, while elephants are poached for their ivory. Poor rural colonists use logging roads to access hunting grounds and establish homesteads, where they collect fuelwood and use slash-and-burn techniques to clear rainforest for subsistence agriculture.
Nouabalé-Ndoki is one of Congo's best known and most important national parks. Located deep in the Congo Basin rainforest, this part is home to gorillas, chimps, forest elephants, buffalos, and bongos. It, together with Lobéké National Park in Cameroon and Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic, forms a giant protected area consisting of primary lowland rainforest. In total, almost 16 percent of Congo's land area is under some form of protection.
62% of all Africa's forest elephants killed in 10 years (warning: graphic images)
(03/04/2013) More than 60 percent of Africa's forest elephants have been killed in the past decade due to the ivory trade, reports a new study published in the online journal PLOS ONE. The study warns that the diminutive elephant species — genetically distinct from the better-known savanna elephant — is rapidly heading toward extinction.
Gorilla paradise: new park safeguards 15,000 western lowland gorillas
(01/31/2013) In 2008 the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced a jaw-dropping discovery: remote swamp forests in northern Republic of Congo contained a stunning population of 125,000 western lowland gorillas that had somehow gone unnoticed by scientists. At the time the President of WCS, Steven E. Sanderson, called the area the "mother lode of gorillas," and expressed hope that the discovery would lead to a new park. Well, late last year, a park was finalized.
Rarest gorillas lose half their habitat in 20 years
(10/01/2012) Cross River gorillas and eastern gorillas lost more than half their habitat since the early 1990s due to deforestation, logging, and other human activities, finds a comprehensive new assessment across great apes' range in West and Central Africa.
Turning gorilla poachers into conservationists in the Congo [warning: graphic photos]
(08/13/2012) Although founded only four years ago, Endangered Species International-Congo, has ambitious plans to protect dwindling Western gorilla populations and aid local people in the Republic of the Congo. The organization, an offshoot of Endangered Species International (ESI), has been spending the last few years studying the bushmeat trade in Pointe-Noire, the country's second largest city, and developing plans for turning hunters into conservationists.
10 African countries to develop satellite-based deforestation tracking systems with help of Brazil
(07/30/2012) Ten tropical African countries will receive training and support to develop national forest monitoring systems, reports the United Nations. Brazil, which has an advanced deforestation tracking system, will guide the initiative in partnership with the Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Suggested reading - Books
Unless otherwise specified, this article was written by Rhett A. Butler [Bibliographic citation for this page]
Contact me if you have suggestions on other rainforest-related environmental sites and resources for this country.
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Last updated: 4 Feb 2006