Illegal logging in Central Africa results in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue each year, exacerbates poverty in forest-dependent communities, accelerates forest ecosystem degradation and undermines efforts to invest in long-term sustainable forest management. WRI, in collaboration with the International Conservation Union and the Inter-African Forest Industries Association, developed a set of legality standards that assesses if timber products produced and exported in Central Africa are legal. Those legality indicators are now being used by governments of forest-rich countries in Central Africa for establishing their own national standards, notably in view of satisfying European Union regulations which will soon require that all imported timber products come from legal sources. In addition, WRI works with those governments to map and monitor their logging concessions and protected areas.
People & Ecosystems
The United Nations’ new population growth projections show that the world is set to reach nearly 9.6 billion by 2050. This growth holds serious implications for global food security. Absent other effective measures to control dietary shifts and reduce food loss and waste, the world will need to produce about 70 percent more food annually by 2050 to meet global demands. That is a big task, and even harder to do without converting millions more hectares of forests into farmland, contributing to climate change.
Stretching across six countries, the Congo Basin contains the second largest contiguous tropical rain forest in the world and is home to a wealth of biodiversity and wildlife populations. As global demand for the region’s forest resources continues to grow, Central African nations recognize the importance of managing these resources for the future.
WRI has been working with the Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Forest
Economy and a Congolese environmental group since 2004 to help that
country gather and digitize data on all its forest concessions, logging roads,
and protected areas for the first time. Forests cover 22 million hectares,
almost 65% of Congo’s territory. Forestry related revenue is second
only to that of petroleum to Congo’s economy.
Combined with training programs, the interactive forest atlas
produced through this collaboration helps the Congolese
government better monitor and manage its forest concession
titles, adjust taxable areas accordingly, and prioritize its limited resources to combat illegal logging by dispatching field control
units to investigate pre-identified problem areas rather than
stumbling upon them.
One of America’s great natural resources, the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay, is in a state of decline largely as a result of nutrient pollution from farms and wastewater treatment plants. Too many nutrients in the water can lead to explosive algae growth which in turn blocks out sunlight and absorbs oxygen. Aquatic life dies out. More than 400 coastal waterways worldwide suffer from adverse effects of nutrient over-enrichment, also known as eutrophication.
Three states with an impact on the Chesapeake Bay – West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland – have been working with WRI to set up and launch a state-based regional nutrient trading market. Farmers can now go online and sell the nitrogen and phosphorous reduction credits they earn from better conservation practices to municipalities and companies that must meet mandated water pollution reduction requirements. It’s similar to the cap-and-trade approach that has reduced acid rain.
The establishment of a robust water quality trading market in the Chesapeake region will not only help reduce hard to manage nutrient pollution, but it will serve as an example for other multi-state watersheds, such as the Mississippi River Basin, as they seek cost-effective solutions for addressing eutrophication.
Cette carte montre l'affectation des terres dans le domaine forestier national au Cameroun au 31 Mai 2006. Elle donne des informations sur les differentes categories d'occupation du sol dans les domaines forestiers permanent et non permanent sous toile de fond du couvert forestier.
Cette montre l'affectation des terres dans le domaine forestier au Cameroun en 30 Août 2004. Elle donne des informations sur les differentes categories d'occupation du sol dans les domaines forestiers permanent et non permanent, ainsi que des informations sur les infrastructures routières.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of natural wealth, yet among the poorest in terms of GDP. Forests blanket 60% of the country.
Following decades of mismanagement and two civil wars, the DRC is taking steps to promote sustainable forest management. In 2005, with World Bank financing, the government launched a process to review and convert old logging titles into forest concessions aligned with the country’s new forest code.
Pierre Methot directed WRI's forestry work in Central Africa in 2009. He explains WRI’s role, “Acting as the international independent observer, alongside our Belgian partner AGRECO, we designed the review methodology, provided technical support, and ensured compliance with the law. We insisted the process and results be made publicly available and that local and indigenous populations be involved.”
Of 156 logging titles reviewed, only 65 were deemed legal for new concessions. The remaining titles – 12 million hectares of rainforest – were set for cancellation.
“Protecting hectares is important,” says Methot, “but more importantly, this process was transparent and involved multiple stakeholders – a first for the DRC. It sets the groundwork for an accountable approach to forest and natural resource management.”
See our current work on this topic: Congo Basin Forest Atalses
Russia’s forests are the largest in the world. Stretching from the Baltic to the Sea of Japan, they encompass the last wild forests of Europe, make up the vast wilderness of Siberia, and provide habitat for the highly endangered Siberian tiger.
In recent decades, road-building, logging, and wildfires have increasingly degraded these ancient and previously largely intact forests. To protect some particularly valuable forests, the Russian government used data provided by Global Forest Watch Russia, a partnership between WRI and several Russian forest conservation groups.
Dr. Lars Laestadius leads WRI’s work in Russia. “The Russian government’s attitude toward non-governmental organizations is very cautious, but, at the same time, it realizes they have unique biodiversity data and maps on the country’s forests. Using satellite imagery and field visits, the Global Forest Watch Russia network mapped conservation values in Russia’s forests and made the results publicly available.”
These maps influenced the Russian government as it prioritized new areas for protection and drew the boundaries of three new national parks. Similarly, the forest-rich Republic of Karelia bordering Finland relied on Global Forest Watch Russia maps and data for its new forest plan, which outlines thirteen new protected areas and identifies future areas for protection.
Illegal logging in Cameroon has decreased by approximately 50 percent since 2000, according to an independent Chatham House report.
Cameroon’s forests, covering more than 20 million hectares, offer a range of ecosystem services and are vital resources for both biodiversity and economic growth. But illegal loggers also find value in the forests, and illegal logging has long threatened local livelihoods, decimated wildlife, and squandered public revenue. The Cameroonian government is responsible for controlling logging activities, but a lack of adequate forest-related information, tools, and capacity has historically made it difficult to monitor logging activities.
Recognizing this critical gap, WRI launched a partnership in 2002 with Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and interested NGOs. WRI’s goal was to provide information and tools that would improve transparency, accountability, and forest monitoring — ultimately serving as the springboard for a crackdown on illegal logging. WRI developed interactive maps, data, and decision-support systems to monitor logging activities and trained government officials, NGO, and private sector representatives on their use. These systems have:
- Enabled Cameroonian officials to systematically detect logging violations in protected areas and outside of forest concessions.
- Empowered local NGOs to conduct independent monitoring of logging operations.
- Helped ensure wood products leaving Cameroon were harvested legally, in compliance with international import regulations such as the FLEGT and U.S. Lacey Act.
As the first international NGO to map Cameroon’s forests and place accurate, up-to-date information into public hands, WRI sent ripples through the Cameroonian forest sector, making it clear that illegal logging would no longer go unnoticed or unpunished.
Cecelia Song, Kemen Austin, Andrew Leach, and other experts at WRI also contributed to this post.
Fires are flaring up once more on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Media reports in the region indicate that the resulting smog has already reached unhealthy levels over parts of Indonesia and Malaysia.