WWF threats in the Congo basin
The illegal ivory trade is thriving and has already killed many local populations of elephants. Hunting forest animals for food (called “bushmeat”) has turned into a big business selling to consumers within Congo Basin countries, but also across the world.
The bushmeat trade is now the number one cause of biodiversity loss in nearly every forest area in the region.
Commercial logging companies control a large part of the Congo Basin forests and many of these operations are unsustainable – they are cutting down too many trees and destroying forest biodiversity.
There’s also a huge and unregulated small-scale logging sector, which may be even more destructive.
Forest conversion for slash-and-burn agriculture
Shifting cultivation or “slash and burn” involves clearing forest patches to grow several years of crops and then moving on to clear other forest areas once the soil becomes depleted.
While sustainable at low population densities, this practice is now a major threat to the region’s forests as the human population is growing fast and more and more people are farming this way to respond to increasing demand for food.
Oil and mineral extraction
Mining is becoming an important part of the Congo Basin’s economic development plans, and has already caused significant deforestation and water pollution.
Mining’s wider impacts, from the road and railway construction and population influx that accompanies it, are felt deep within the forest.
Most of the Congo Basin countries also rely heavily on revenue from oil extraction, which poses considerable threats to the environment and local people.
Large-scale, industrial agro-business development for palm oil and sugar is a developing threat leading to forest conversion and environmental degradation.