Magazine article New African

Saving Central Africa's Rainforests: A Total of Seven Different Nations Have Signed a Joint Conservation Treaty Designed to Protect the Future of the Congo Basin. Stuart Price Reports

Magazine article New African

Saving Central Africa's Rainforests: A Total of Seven Different Nations Have Signed a Joint Conservation Treaty Designed to Protect the Future of the Congo Basin. Stuart Price Reports

Article excerpt

In something of a first for the continent, the countries of Central Africa have pledged to protect the future of the region's rainforests. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said the region-wide conservation agreement was a historic milestone for the future of the world's second largest rainforest. Kenya's environment minister and recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai also agreed to become a goodwill ambassador for the protection of the forest of the Congo Basin at a meeting held in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville.

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The vast forests are often termed as the second of the planet's lungs along with the Amazon rainforest of South America. The new agreement is intended to revive a previous conservation treaty from five years ago that has stalled in the implementation of protecting the forests from illegal logging, poachers and ecological destruction. An additional trilateral agreement between Cameroon, Gabon and Congo Brazzaville will safeguard some 14.6 million hectares of forest, equivalent to 7.5% of the entire Congo Basin.

The tropical rainforest of the Congo region covers a vast area of some 890,000 sq miles (2.3 million sq km). But at current depletion rates, it is shrinking by more than 8,000 sq km a year due to excessive deforestation as a result of widespread illegal logging practises. The forests are home to more than half of the continent's animal species and the entire population of lowland gorillas, as well as providing shelter, food and materials to over 20 million people. …

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