Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Why Congo’s rainforest is undervalued

Why Congo’s rainforest is undervalued
13 Jan
2020
The world’s second largest tropical forest receives significantly less funding than its counterparts in other countries

The Congo Basin Rainforest is the second largest tropical rainforest in the world. Stretching across 500 million acres, it is larger than the state of Alaska and spans six countries in Central Africa. Home to more than 2,500 species, including endangered wildlife such as forest elephants, bonobos and gorillas, it is a thriving ecosystem and a vital carbon sink.

Stay connected with the Geographical newsletter!
signup buttonSince its inception in 1935, Geographical has reported on many thousands of global issues, allowing readers to look past the boundaries and borders of our world and take a broader perspective. In these turbulent times, we’re still committed to telling expansive stories from across the globe, highlighting the everyday lives of normal but extraordinary people. Stay informed and engaged with Geographical.

Get Geographical’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox every Friday!

But the region’s importance is not reflected in the funding it receives. In a recent study led by Richard Eba’a Atyi, regional coordinator for the Center of International Forestry Research in Central Africa, a team of researchers analysed the levels of environmental development assistance provided to the Congo Basin when compared to that received by other tropical regions. They found that despite the its vast size, it only captured 11.5 per cent of the total funds provided in the past decade (a pool calculated to be $14.9bn), while Southeast Asia and the Amazon received 54.5 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

‘I see a couple of reasons for this,’ says Atyi, speaking to Geographical from Cameroon. ‘One is that unlike in other regions, the Central Africa region receives only grants related to the environment. In Southeast Asia, you have grants, but additionally you may have low-interest loans. Multilateral forums such as the World Bank do not like to give grants of course, but the World Bank loan interest rate is very high in Central Africa because of the capacity of these economies to pay back. Another reason may be the perception of risk. If there are risks that the funder will not achieve what they intended, that may be something to take into account.’

Get Geographical delivered to your door!
signup buttonAs we brace ourselves on our personal islands, it can be hard to picture the processes of the planet continuing to whir. Marooned in our homes, it’s vital that we stay positive, motivated and informed. Geographical is committed to helping you explore the world from the comfort of your sofa. Get the world delivered to your door, with Geographical.

Subscribe today to Geographical’s monthly print and digital magazine and save 30% off the cover price! 

He also points to the challenge of developing high-quality proposals in a world where attracting funding is highly competitive – though he adds that this is improving in the region with more people being trained in forest sustainability. However, he is less optimistic that for-profit intuitions will re-think the risk of lending.

One tactic could be to target those countries that don’t currently focus on the region. In Central Africa, the top five bilateral donors were Germany, the United States, France, Japan and Sweden, with the EU topping the list of multilateral donors. The largest overall donor was Germany, which provided $420m – almost half the total bilateral donation. Yet, while this list corresponds with other regions in some respects, significant donors such as Finland, Denmark and the Green Climate Fund had no presence in Central Africa at all. For Atyi, it is therefore all about raising the profile of the forest.

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter and get a free collection of eBooks!

geo line break v3

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PLACES...

Cities

The city of Calais struggles with its reputation. More often…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig and Tina Gotthardt map the coronavirus

Water

The controversial practice of cloud-seeding has always been difficult to…

Forests

The impact of wildfires on water supplies has received little…

Mapping

Benjamin Hennig maps the two sides of global malnutrition –…

Cities

Thomas Bird reports on the coronavirus, speaking to those trapped…

Forests

The world’s second largest tropical forest receives significantly less funding…

Cities

The world’s first water-borne dairy farm has been erected on…

Cities

Continental Europe’s most extensive underground rail transport network, the Madrid…

Cities

A central highway in Brazil’s largest city is about to…

Cities

Urban photography marries themes and passages from TS Eliot in…

Mapping

From Leonardo da Vinci’s genius and the history of Starbucks,…

Mapping

How do you usually travel to work? Question 41 in…

Water

The Nile is home to mysteries both ancient and modern…

Places

While researching his main article on the world’s smallest countries,…

Places

Vitali Vitaliev briefly meets the down-to-earth ruler of Liectenstein

Places

In the third of his series on geopolitical oddities, Vitali…

Water

Increased rainfall intensity, predicted to occur as the climate changes,…

Deserts

Now in its fourth year, this annual lecture series highlights…