Preserving precious peat in the Congo Basin

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been known for the biodiversity and carbon storage capacity of its vast forests. Now, there is a need to explore the potential of newly-discovered peatland to help further keep a lid on its carbon emissions, according to Denis Jean Sonwa, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Scientists recently discovered what they call ‘the world’s largest tropical peatland’ in a remote part of the Congo Basin. The 145,000 square-kilometer area, larger than the size of England, is believed to hold the equivalent of three years’ worth of global emissions. Known as the ‘Cuvette Centrale’, the area straddles the DRC’s border with the Republic of Congo.

The DRC is well-informed to bring peatlands into its Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) process, says Sonwa, who is based in CIFOR's office in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

“The countries of Central Africa are known for their biodiversity,” he says. “It is thus extremely important that the DRC, with support from international donors and partners, continue protecting its peatland areas.”

Sonwa spoke to Forests News about how the DRC can move forward on peatland preservation for carbon storage purposes.

Mark J Handel


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