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CR 17:229-246 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/cr017229

Central African forests, carbon and climate change

Chris Justice1,*, David Wilkie2,**, Quanfa Zhang1, Jake Brunner3, Cinde Donoghue1,***

1Global Environmental Change Program, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903, USA
2Associates in Forest Research and Development, Waltham, Massachusetts 02154, USA
3World Resources Institute, Washington, DC 20002, USA
*E-mail: Present addresses: **Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, New York 10460, USA, and Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467, USA ***Washington State Department of Ecology, Olympia, Washington 98504-8711, USA

ABSTRACT: The tropical forests of the world are receiving considerable attention in terms of their role in climate change. Not only does tropical land use change provide an important term in balancing the global carbon budget, but tropical forests also present opportunities for carbon trading in the emerging carbon markets. The Congo Basin contains the second largest area of contiguous rainforest in the world, yet for various reasons has received relatively little attention in terms of these climate change issues. This paper provides an assessment of the current state of the forests of Central Africa, their carbon stock, recent rates of deforestation and a simple predictive model of forest change over the next 60 yr. The roles of agriculture and logging which are driving deforestation are discussed. The future of the forests, whether for commercial use, carbon trading or biodiversity is inextricably linked to how these valuable resources are managed. Suggestions are made for potential carbon trading projects, forest management strategies and a climate change research agenda for the region. Effective forest monitoring and management are seen as essential components for the economic development of this region.

KEY WORDS: The Congo Basin · Climate change · Carbon · Forest management and policy

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