Deforestation Trends in the Congo Basin



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As global networks of trade, migration, technology, information and finances have grown in strength, speed and density over the last decades, so have our understanding and awareness of the connections that shape the world’s physical landscapes and economies. We know that policy decisions in one country can affect the way land is managed thousands of miles away. We know that greenhouse gases emitted in different sectors and in different economies influence the pace of climate change for all. And we know that vicious cycles of poverty, land degradation and food insecurity can be transformed into virtuous cycles of sustainable intensification and shared prosperity with the right interventions and incentives. Development challenges and solutions are all connected, at the local, regional and global level. Those far-reaching connections come to the fore in a new and timely study that looks at deforestation trends in the Congo Basin across sectors and beyond national borders. The study, led by the World Bank’s Africa Region Environment team with the participation of key Congo Basin country stakeholders and support from multiple donors, was informed by economic modeling complemented with sectoral analysis, as well as interactive simulations and workshop discussions. This innovative approach has already deepened our understanding of the multiple drivers of deforestation in the Congo Basin beyond the usual suspects (commercial logging) and opened political space to discuss the role of sectors such as agriculture, energy, transport and mining, in shaping the future of the Basin’s forests.This analysis, combined with recommendations which policy makers can now further refine and flesh out at the country level, could potentially help Congo Basin countries overcome some of the more severe trade-offs between growth and forest protection. If Congo Basin countries are able to minimize forest loss as their economies develop, they could “leapfrog” the steep drop in forest cover that has historically accompanied development in many countries, and make an important global contribution to climate change mitigation by reducing emissions associated with deforestation. The time is now ripe to move ahead with some of the sound “no-regrets” recommendations made by study participantsand experts.