Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo has a vast forest area estimated at 23.9 million hectares, or about 70% of the national territory. Although the rate of deforestation is currently very low at less than 0.1% per year, it is likely to accelerate sharply without proper planning and control.
An estimated forest loss of 23 850 ha/year was expected over the period 2015-2020 in connection with the planned development of agroindustry, and an additional 4 000 ha/year of unplanned deforestation, mainly caused by shifting agriculture. This trend could accelerate further in view of the growing international demand for certain agricultural commodities and the high availability of arable land in the Congo.
According to the REDD+ strategy (2016), the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation are:
- Agricultural expansion: shifting agriculture and agro-industry
- Firewood collection
- Forest exploitation, including illegal logging
- Mining activities: industrial and artisanal
- Urban and infrastructure expansion
The Republic of the Congo and the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) in September 2019 to protect the country’s forests and accelerate the fight against climate change.
The LoI will be used to implement the investment plan of the national REDD+ strategy, and includes ambitious commitments for Congo to:
- Develop a national land-use policy through a multi-sectoral and inclusive spatial planning process.
- Direct agro-industrial plantations to savannah areas, following a 2018 ban on the allocation of large-scale logging concessions in forest areas.
- Identify and avoid clearing High Carbon Stocks (HCS) and High Conservation Value (HCV) forests.
- Temporarily cap deforestation to 20 000 hectares per year.
- Refrain from draining or drying peatland areas.