Deforestation threatens species and vital tropical peatlands in western Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Congo Basin of Africa feeds the second-largest river in the world and stretches across six countries. At its heart lies the world’s largest tropical peatland, where thick layers of plant and other organic matter have decayed over thousands of years beneath water-logged swamp forests. The peatlands, and the Congo Rainforest as a whole, are a carbon sink — they pull massive amounts of CO2 out of the air and safely store them in wood and waterlogged soil.
But if the peatlands dry out because of climate change or habitat destruction, there is a risk they will start releasing back this “carbon bomb”, flipping from a carbon sink to a carbon source. This would exacerbate rather than mitigate global warming. With every mat sold we donate currently to this project to save the peatlands, which are helping to combat climate change.
Rainforest Trust has already secured over six million acres in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and with your support, we aim to safeguard a further 1,150,638 acres of globally critical tropical peatlands. Working with Rainforest Foundation Norway with GASHE (Groupe d’Action Pour Sauver L’Homme Et Son Environnement), we will support the designation of Community Forests to legally secure the rights of local communities to the land and to safeguard the forests they rely on for survival.
SPECIES AT RISK
African Forest Elephant (CR), Chimpanzee (EN), White-bellied Pangolin (EN)
Rainforest Foundation Norway
470,547,689 mT (metric tons of CO2 equivalents)
1,150,638 PROPOSED ACRES CONSERVED BY Designation
These remote swamp forests — home to elephants, chimpanzees and pangolins — are threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, charcoal-making for fuel in urban areas miles away and industrial logging. But perhaps the greatest threat is the potential for oil and gas exploration and exploitation. Designation of the proposed areas as Community Forests will strictly forbid such industrial activities.
Remote swamp forests are home to Critically Endangered African Forest Elephant and Endangered Chimpanzee and White-bellied Pangolin, all at risk of extinction from poaching for illegal trade and hunting for bushmeat in addition to habitat loss.
Rainforest Trust, in collaboration with Rainforest Foundation Norway with GASHE (Groupe d’Action Pour Sauver L’Homme Et Son Environnement), is working to support the designation of 1,150,638 acres of globally critical tropical peatlands as Community Forests to legally secure the rights of local communities to the land and to safeguard the forests they rely on for survival.
Protect Peat Forest for Important African Species and Climate
African Forest Elephants are essential to the dense forest habitat of the Congo Basin since they shape the forest over time as they move and forage through it. But scientists estimate more than a 60% reduction in their population due to poaching for the international ivory trade, habitat loss and fragmentation. The globally Endangered Chimpanzee is at significant risk of local extinction from poaching for bushmeat and the illegal pet trade. The Endangered White-bellied Pangolin also faces heavy exploitation for bushmeat and the traditional medicine trade.
The peat here extends to 30 feet deep and sequesters over 470 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents—which, if released into the atmosphere, would emit nearly the same amount of CO2 as burning 46 billion gallons of diesel fuel.
Support the Rights of Local Communities to Manage Biodiversity
The forest plays a vital role in the lives and well-being of the residents in surrounding villages. Our partner will conduct full and inclusive consultations with people who reside in and around these areas to assist them in securing the rights to their territories.
Rainforest Trust has worked in western DRC since 2018 with partner Les Amis des Bonobo du Congo to establish the 117,415-acre Ecolo ya Bonobo Reserve for the Endangered Bonobo. Another 80,000 acres of protection adjacent to the reserve is currently underway.
We support Rainforest Trust with every mat sold, this project as well as the many other projects they have run throughout the years are making real change in the areas on the ground where it is needed - working with local communities and engaging to share the vision of one earth and to save vital habitats from destruction.
We can all see the effects of climate change and projects such as this one are vital to help. 100% of donations go to the projects themselves, board members and other supporters cover their operating costs, so you can give knowing your whole gift will protect rainforests.