Oil palm, rubber could trigger ’storm’ of deforestation in the Congo Basin
Thousands of square kilometers of the world’s second-largest rainforest, the Congo Basin, sit on the verge of destruction, according to a new report released today by Earthsight, the London-based non-profit that investigates global environmental issues.
Earthsight documented approximately 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of deforestation to clear the way for new rubber and oil palm plantations in Central Africa’s rainforest countries over the past five years. But the team also found that companies in Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hold licenses for industrial agriculture on another 8,400 square kilometers (3,243 square miles) of land. Their research shows that government authorities granted several of these concessions with little regard for transparency, and in some cases in violation of laws written to protect forests, often to devastating effect for local communities.
Globally, illegal conversion of forests to agriculture led to nearly half of deforestation in tropical forests between 2000 and 2012.