The rate at which the Congo's rainforest is being destroyed has increased significantly over the past few years, new statistics show.
According to a new report from the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), gross deforestation rates across the Congo Basin have doubled sincethe mid-1990s. Notably, the report pinpoints five major causes of deforestation in the region, which is home to gorillas, as well as threatened populations of forest elephants, okapi, hippos, bonobos and chimpanzees.
These leading causes include the collection of wood for fuel, subsistence and industrial-scale agriculture, oil exploration and mining. Furthermore, COMIFAC also warns that ongoing population growth in and around the Congo basin will place even more pressure on the rainforests in the years ahead.
Commenting, the Gorilla Organization's programmes manager in DR Congo, Henry Cirhuza, said: "Habitat loss is a very serious threat indeed to both mountain and lowland gorillas here in the Congo basin. This report shows that, though rates of deforestation here are still nowhere near as bad as they are in some parts of South America, the situation has got worse over the past few years, despite the growing realisation that, if they are properly managed and looked after, the forests can be useful for both gorillas and humans."
On a more positive note, this latest report notes that the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme could help guard against any further increases to the rate of habitat loss in the Congo Basin, largely through providing funds for conservation and habitat protection efforts in the region.
Follow the latest news from the Gorilla Organization's resource centres on the Gorilla Field Staff blog.