The past, present and future of Africa's rainforests
The African wet tropics contain the second largest area of tropical rainforest in the world (second only to Amazonia), accounting for roughly 30% of global rainforest cover, the lush green heart of an otherwise generally dry continent. These rainforests have global significance and value as reservoirs of biodiversity, as stores and sinks of atmospheric carbon, as regulators of flow of mighty rivers, as sources of moisture to the atmosphere and engines of the global atmospheric circulation, as a key component of the Earth system and its biogeochemical cycles, and as providers of resources and ecosystem services to local communities and the region's nations. They also have a unique and particular history of changes in climate and human pressure, and face a range of contemporary pressures. Over the twenty-first century, the African rainforest realm has the potential to witness massive change, both through an expansion of deforestation, hunting and logging, and through the effects of global climate change.