When you think of rainforest, what springs to mind? 100% humidity, thick canopy, streams and heaps of damp leaves? You probably don’t think of them as being dry. Or prone to fire. But rainforests everywhere are becoming tinderboxes.
Rainforests are distinct for their lush canopy, humid conditions and abundance of wildlife. They only exist in the tropics, where perfect growing conditions allow them to flourish and develop into the intricate ecosystems they are. Being permanently wet, they are typically resistant to fire. The humidity usually stops the flames in their tracks.
But the Congo basin, home to the second largest rainforest in the world, is drying out as a result of climate change. Precipitation rates are falling and temperatures are rising across much of the Congo. Drier rainforests are vulnerable to more forest fires that could eventually create an entirely different landscape – one that locks up much less carbon.
As the world’s second largest rainforest, the Congo basin holds around 27 billion tonnes of carbon. That’s about 25 percent of the total carbon stored in tropical forests worldwide1. If it dries out, it will cause further increases in global temperatures, showing the dangerous snowball effect of global climate change.
If we don’t look after rainforest today, it will turn on us. It will become yet another source of warming carbon dioxide emissions rather than the lifesaving storage facility it is now, as shown in recent research.
Climate change affects the entire planet: every country, every ocean, every ecosystem, every mountain range. But of all of the continents, it is frequently suggested that Africa will face the largest impact.
And it’s the future of Africa’s tropical heartland – the Congo basin – that is most uncertain.
Cool Earth has partnered with Flora and Fauna International in Lubutu since 2015. By working with this smart NGO, we can help empower a small community facing economic and social hardship in the heart of the Congo rainforest. Here, local people are best placed to fight back against deforestation and keep their forests lush and fire-free.
Cool Earth wants to put Africa back on the rainforest conservation map, helping Congolese communities to play their part to help mitigate global climate change whilst benefiting and conserving their own livelihoods.
The community in Lubutu is helping to stop the spread of fire in their forest. But to halt the process completely will require fanning the flames of action on a global scale.