The Congo Basin

The Congo Basin

In the heart of Africa lies the second largest rainforest in the world, the Congo Basin rainforest. Enclosing the mighty Congo river system, it is teeming with unique animals and plant species. Protecting these forests is vital in order to prevent global warming.

The forests’ Importance to Climate

The Central African forests are of vital importance  in order to meet the goals of the Paris Climate agreement.

Equally important are large amounts of peatlands.  These carbon-rich, thick layers of organic soil have accumulated over millions of years in the whole region.

A continuous peatland the size of UK has been discovered in The Congo River basin between DR Congo and the Republic of Congo. This peatland stores an estimated amount of 30 gigaton of C02.

Vital Rainfall Patterns

The deforestation of this rainforest and the resulting lack of rainfall is a major concern on a continent with huge deserts like the Sahara and recurring droughts in the dry savannas of the Sahel.

The potential consequences for food production, social and political stability and on migration can be dramatic.


Deforestation in the Congo Basin is changing rapidly.  In 2022, a tree-covered area of 15 603 km2 was lost, according to recent satellite data. This amounts to almost  8 000 football fields of forest cleared every single day. Most of it occurred in DR Congo.

Why does the forest disappear?

In DR Congo, deforestation is mostly caused by a growing population trying to cover their basic, daily needs for food and charcoal.

For the region as a whole, a study by Maryland University shows that the small-scale slash-and-burn agriculture accounts for 84 percent of the deforestation, while logging accounts for about 10 percent.

Finally, in some areas of the Congo Basin, mining is also an important driver of deforestation.

Global Demand for Natural Resources

Most of the Central African countries depend heavily on the vast natural resources in the region for their income.

The Republic of Congo and Gabon are oil nations. DR Congo depends on income from minerals. The global market is craving copper, coltan and cobalt to produce everything from smartphones to batteries in electric vehicles, all part of the green economy.

Nonetheless, people in the region face poverty, inequality and food insecurity.

Weaknesses in governance, institutions and infrastructure make it difficult to successfully address these challenges.

Fighting deforestation

Protecting the forests, peatlands and the biological diversity poses enormous challenges.

To succeed in preventing deforestation in Central Africa, there is a need for better forest governance and massive efforts to invest in poverty alleviation, rights-based family planning (DRC) and people- and forest friendly sustainable development.

National goals

All the countries in the Congo Basin generally aim at stabilizing their natural forest cover. DR Congo has committed to do so by 2030. Gabon has committed to preserve 98% of its current forest cover. However, these commitments will be difficult to honor, without support from the outside world.