The Congo Basin comprises Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It covers close to 70% of the forestlands of Africa. Of the 530 million hectares in the Congo Basin, 300 million are composed of forests: 99% of these are primary or naturally regenerated forests, as opposed to plantations.
This study is mainly a bibliography to be used in identifying the present and future causes of deforestation in the six countries of the Congo Basin, step one in overcoming the challenges facing REDD+.
With a net deforestation rate of 0.09% between 1990 and 2000 and a 0.17% rate between 2000 and 2005, deforestation in this region seems small compared to other regions of the world. Slash-and-burn agriculture, commercial farming and the development of infrastructure to open up the forest zones together with the construction of secondary agricultural roads are the main causes of deforestation. Other reasons include urban expansion due to the rural exodus and population growth. Forestry operations and the harvesting of fuelwood are the main causes of forest degradation. But some countries do not depend on forestry (e.g. Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea where oil revenue accounts for some 85–95% of State revenue).
All the Basin countries are hoping for emergence, but their timelines are different: 2035 for DRC and Cameroon, 2025 for Gabon and 2020 for Equatorial Guinea. Their emergence programmes are largely dependent on the development of infrastructure and industry and may entail massive destruction of forestlands. There is a need for directives at the regional level to contain the effects of the emergence strategies on the forestlands. With this in mind, in-depth studies that are complementary to the traditional environmental and social impact studies would be very useful in reconciling economic development with environmental preoccupations.