Urgent measures of restoration and conservation are deemed necessary to revert biodiversity, wildlife and forest cover loss in the Congo Basin, but could only be possible if the present trend of consumption and production is halved by 2030.
The Living Earth Planet report, 2022 produced by World Wildlife Fund and Zoological Society of London indicates has depicted a dire situation of loss in the world and the Congo Basin.
Statistics from 1970 to 2018 show that there has been a 69 percent loss in the world’s wildlife population. In less than half a century, about 32,000 population of mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles and fish have reduced by 2/3. During the same time, the monitored population in Africa reduced by 66 percent.
The Congo Basin, the second lungs of the earth has witnessed a 50 percent reduction in the elephant population in the TRIDOM-Tri-national Dja, Minkebe-Odzala, between Cameroon, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo in the past five years. Compared to 66 percent in 50 years in Africa it seems enormous against important reductions within a short period of time which shows the intensity of pressure on biodiversity, experts explain.
In Campo Ma’an for example, the pressure from hunting increased to about 50-60 percent. In certain landscapes, statistics show a loss of 150 km2 of forest. In some sites, the Chimpanzee population has reduced by 36 percent. The Elephant population reduced in 8 years to 65 percent. Very alarming compared to 66 percent in Africa for over decades, showing that the pressure is enormous. A study in 2013, showed that in a period of ten years, in 30 sites, there was a reduction of 63 percent of the chimpanzee population.
Experts say degradation, loss of habitat, exploitation of forest, mining, introduction of invading species, pollution and climate change are responsible for the reduction.
“The Living Planet Report highlights the threats of the Congo Basin in terms of loss of forest cover, wildlife, biodiversity and attempts to attract the attention of policy makers, the public on the need to take action to reverse the curve. Globally, 10million forest cover is lost every year and it huge. In the Congo Basin, one million hectares is lost every year. Though it might seem lower than the average, it is still very important considering all the services-economic, environmental and cultural provided by the forest,” Belmond Tchoumba WWF Forest Programme Coordinator for Central Africa said.
Reversing the current situation will only produce the desired results if consumption and production is halved by 2030.
Experts agree on the need to tackle the causes of biodiversity loss and adopt sustainable practices in agriculture, food systems, fishing, forestry, energy, mining, infrastructure and construction.
Government needs to engage with ambitious and consumption measures in the sector. With COP15 this year, the global strategy is to mobilize resources to finance for positive results for nature.
Also, increase financing towards developing and eliminate poor incitation as this is money biodiversity generates for the society and the economy.
Sustainable management of the Tri-national, Dja, Minkebe-Odzala, between Cameroon, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo; support to indigenous people is also partial solution to safeguard the Congo Basin.
Dr Peter Mbile, WWF Field Programmes Coordinator suggests a wholistic approach. “The Congo Basin usually refers to the high or massive forest of the countries that constitute the Congo Basin, but it is important to remember that within the countries, there are parts which are not typically forest-though Cameroon has defined forest to occupy the entire national territory.”
The Congo Basin ignores the dry areas of Cameroon, DRC and they must be considered. Mbile says if citizens of the dry and degraded areas lose their livelihoods because of landscape degradation, loss of biodiversity, soil no longer fertile, they will go to the South where there is the Congo basin and probably clear for agriculture.
To protect the Congo Basin, there is need to keep indigenes in areas by investing on their land.