. Earth Science News .

DR Congo seeks to keep its huge green lung breathing
by Staff Writers
Kinshasa (AFP) Nov 4, 2011

Forest conservation is a major challenge for the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world's second biggest green lung after the Amazon, amid a paucity of energy production and renewable alternatives.

The country's massive tropical forest, four times the size of France, covers some 1.55 million square kilometres (600,000 square miles), mainly in the north.

It includes most of the Congo basin which is the second-largest oxygen supplier on earth after the Amazon forest.

For the time being this green capital, home of the greatest biodiversity in Africa, remains "relatively intact", according to Achim Steiner, the executive director of the UN's environment programme (UNEP), who gave a presentation in Kinshasa this month.

However "the intensification of deforestation in response to a growing energy demand", as well as the spread of slash and burn farming were "alarming signs", he added.

Only nine percent of the 62 million Congolese have access to electricity despite the 100,000 megawatt potential of the Inga dam on the mighty Congo River, underexploited due to a lack of equipment and maintenance.

Therefore the people cut down some 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) of forest every year just for their heating and lighting needs, according the UNEP.

"Conservation is directly linked to development, because if there's no energy how can you stop the people from going and chopping down the forest for firewood? It's impossible," Environment Minister Jose Endundo said.

He insisted however that "we are evolving towards a green economy," under the aegis of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD), foreseeing a multiplication of initiatives for reforestation and the use of less polluting energy sources.

At Nsele, in Kinshasa province, a pilot project for "integrated bio-economic" farming has been imported from Ethiopia.

With UN support it, for example, recycles pig urine to produce a biogas for braziers and lamps.

"We have the capacity to stock 50,000 cubic metres," explained Getachew Tikubet, the Ethiopian behind the project which is also being tested in provinces in the country's east and west.

Around Ibi Village, also in Kinshasa, is another preservation project.

There it is planned to plant a forest of acacia trees, surrounded by manioc, to provide a 4,200-hectare forest for energy use, at the same time trapping in five years a million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The World Bank's BioCarbon Fund, along with French enterprise Orbeo, -- a joint venture between chemical group Rhodia and Societe Generale bank -- have each bought "500,000 tonnes" of carbon credits to resell to polluters to recompense their greenhouse gas emissions, the Ibi Village project head Delly Kayuka told AFP.

However Kayuka voiced his disappointment at the asking price, at $4 dollars per tonne of CO2.

According to the UNEP the Democratic Republic of Congo's reserves of carbon dioxide, estimated at over 27 million tonnes, could generate up to $900 million per year up to 2030.

Related Links
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

South African police detain Thai man over poaching links
Johannesburg (AFP) Nov 4, 2011 - South African officials on Friday detained a Thai man they believe is linked to a poaching ring accused of hiring prostitutes to smuggle rhino horns out of the country, a spokesman said.

The South African Revenue Service said police and customs officials believe the man, Punpitak Chunchom, is part of a poaching syndicate they say is run by Thai national Chumlong Lemtongthai, who is charged with organising rhino poaching expeditions masked as legal trophy hunts.

"The suspect apprehended this morning is suspected to be an associate of the one who is in custody, Chumlong, who is standing trial. They, we believe, are two very central figures in an international rhino poaching syndicate," revenue service spokesman Adrian Lackay told AFP.

Punpitak, who has a previous conviction in South Africa for smuggling lion bones and other illegal animal products, was trying to enter the country on a fake passport, Lackay said.

The revenue authority says Chumlong, who has twice been denied bail and is awaiting trial in Johannesburg, would obtain trophy hunting permits then buy the rhinos' horns from the hunters for an average 65,000 rand ($8,260, 5,980 euros) per kilogramme and send them overseas.

Local media report that Chumlong would pay friends, strippers and prostitutes to pose as hunters and export the horns under trophy permits, a limited number of which are issued each year.

Wildlife watchdogs say a rhino horn currently fetches up to half a million dollars on the black market, driven by booming demand in Asia, where it is used in medicinal treatments.

Newspaper reports said Chumlong made more than $8.9 million in profit on 40 rhino horns.


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Gibson Guitar boss backs tough timber trade rules
Washington (AFP) Nov 2, 2011
The head of Gibson Guitar said Wednesday he favors tougher US laws to combat illegal logging, under three months after federal agents seized rare Indian ebony from its factories. Writing on the Huffington Post website, Henry Juszkiewicz said he would be pressing Congress and the Barack Obama administration to clarify legislation that prohibits importing illegally harvested timber. "Rathe ... read more

Japan govt hands $11.5 bln aid to TEPCO: reports

US task force lays out priorities for post-quake Japan

Social media use soars in flood-hit Thailand

Current Training Programs May Not Prepare Firefighters to Combat Stress

Seoul roads to be repaved for radioactivity

Trillions served: Massive, complex projects for DOE JGI 2012 Community Sequencing Program

Google eyes pay television: report

Major breakthrough improves software reliability and security

Suggested Explanation for Glowing Seas

An analysis of water discourse over 40 years of UN declarations

Fog harvesting gives water to South African village

Seaweed records show impact of ocean warming

Peatland carbon storage is stabilized against catastrophic release of carbon

New webcam allows world to watch live polar bear migration

Campaigners push for vast Antarctic marine reserve

A Crack in the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf

Peru's Congress approves 10-year GMO ban

African farmers struggle to fund green projects

Cultural thirst drives China's high-end tea boom

Asia's largest wine fair kicks off in Hong Kong

Destruction and anger after deadly Genoa flash floods

Bangkok subway at risk from advancing floods

Earthquakes killed 780,000 in past decade: study

More than 500 die in Thai floods

China denies abuses in Zambian mines

Hitting the bottle to solve Nigeria's housing problem

Kenya claims Somali rebels receive third weapons airdrop

Chinese firms accused of ignoring Zambian workers' rights

Human skin begins tanning in seconds, and here's how

Jawbone found in England is from the earliest known modern human in northwestern Europe

Increased use of bikes for commuting offers economic, health benefits

Shared genes with Neanderthal relatives not unusual


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement