Congo Forests / Forests in congo  : The Democratic Republic of Congo stands as the second-largest nation on the African continent. D.R. Congo shares borders with more than six countries including Uganda, Rwanda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Republic of the Congo. The country formerly known as Zaire has the richest natural resource potential like oil, tin, diamond, gold, uranium, and tungsten distributed within its boundaries, though these have not been effectively utilized due to insecurity.

D.R. Congo is dissected by the equator and mighty Congo River which greatly influences its vegetation distribution with the forests being inclusive. The Congo river and equator helped the creation of the Congo forest the world’s second-largest surviving and intact block of tropical rainforest. Its forest cover accounts for over half of the tropical rainforest area on the African continent.

Due to the country’s enormous size and different landscapes, several types of forests are encountered and this has helped D.R. Congo be recognized as one of the highest diverse wildlife destinations in Africa. Its forests provide a home to over 10,000 plant species while more than 30 percent of them are endemic to the Congo basin. Animals like bonobos, mountain and lowland gorillas, forest elephants, and okapi also inhabit its lush forests.

congo forests

At least 11 types of forests have been identified in DR Congo with some of the notable ones being tropical lowland rainforest, swamp forest, 3 types of afro montane rainforest, mangroves, Sudanese woodland, and coastal sclerophyllous forest. Most of the forests share similar traits from plant and animal species shared and may only differ because of the terrain they are in, ranging from montane in mountains, lowland and swamps in lowland areas.

Data obtained from research in 2018 indicated that 49 percent of D.R. Congo’s total land area is covered by forest. This amounts to almost 114.5 million hectares of land. Of the 114.5 million only 19.7% is allocated for production and permitted to be harvested by licensed individuals or companies. Although armed groups in different parts of the forests harvest the resources like gold, tantalum, tungsten, and timber an act that was christened “conflict minerals”. The Congo rainforest transitions into these different forests as it crosses different landscapes; from the south, southwest and north it transits into dry savanna forests and grasslands. While to the west it changes into the lower Guinean forests and to the east it transits into the Albertine rift montane forests. The species of animals that inhabit each forest usually change for example the lowland gorillas cannot be encountered in the drier forest savannah in the north.

The different types of forests are further grouped by the World Wide Fund for Nature into six distinct ecoregions of Northwestern Congolian lowland forests, Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests, western Congolian swamp forests, Eastern Congolian swamp forests, Central Congolian lowland forests, and finally the Northeastern Congolian lowland forests.

However, the precious Congo forests and their inhabitants over the past decades have faced major problems of being destroyed due to several increasing factors. The deforestation rate in Congo which was low as compared to other countries having tropical rainforests has jumped over the last couple of years. This is blamed on the rising industrialization, mining, logging, oil drilling, and farming which threatens the once intact block of the forest at a shocking rate.

The governing bodies are trying to limit the destruction of these forests by implementing laws protecting them with the efforts of conserving them for future generations. A couple of these forests have been incorporated into national parks for example around Virunga and Kahuzi Beiga national parks. Others have been made recreational parks and strict requirements needed for logging activities in the forest.

The Congo forests can be visited any time of the year though since most of them are perennial rainforests it calls for visitors either for study or adventure purposes to be equipped for their safari. This calls for rainproof clothing and study safari boots that can handle the tricky Congo forests.

Visitors who want to explore and discover virgin destinations where only a few have dared to go have the perfect place in the Congo forests. Embark on a trip to the Congo forests either in the Virunga to meet the gentle giants in the mountain gorillas or Kahuzi Biega for eastern lowland gorillas and kick start an adventure of a lifetime.

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