Why are the forests of the Green Heart of Africa so important?

 Congo Basin is the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon in Latin America. It remains heartbeat of Africa and is home to millions of people.

Global importance
Being the second largest tropical forest in the world, the Congo Basin plays vital roles that benefits billions of people worldwide.
These include:
 
- Regulating the global climate: the forests of the Congo Basin store huge amounts of carbon. Releasing this into the atmosphere would accelerate climate change dangerously.
 
- Generating rainfall: rains across Africa are almost totally dependent on the maintenance of the forest. 
 
- Maintaining fish stocks: The Congo River provides crucial spawning grounds for fish in the Atlantic Ocean.
 
- Safeguarding our natural heritage: the Green Heart of Africa hosts unique species that the world would lose if forests were to disappear.
 
Our closest relatives the bonobos, and other great apes live in these forests and nowhere else in the world. Forest elephants, okapis and thousands of medicinal plants are also found in the Congo Basin. UNESCO has identified several protected areas and landscapes as World Heritage Sites.
 
National importance
The Congo Basin countries are largely forested and can be characterized as forest economies. Well-managed forests can create jobs and important financial revenue to the national budget, through sustainable harvesting and export of timber. Carbon markets and processes such as REDD+ can also bring significant economic value from maintaining forests. 
In a world where tourists constantly search for new experiences, the Green Heart of Africa offers unique opportunities. National government can earn important revenues from tourism, as witnessed by many other African countries.

Local importance
For millions of citizens in Central Africa, forests simply represent their natural environment – they are part of their history and culture. But they also provide the vast majority of essential needs of local communities: non-timber forest products, fish and meat are harvested from forests. Well-maintained forests and rivers also ensure a healthy environment for rural communities.

Congo Basin is the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon in Latin America. It remains heartbeat of Africa and is home to millions of people.