Conserving the Congo Basin’s precious ecosystem

Aerial view of rainforest, vegetation and waterway (© Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)
Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of the Congo lies in the Congo Basin. (© Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

To help preserve the Congo Basin in the Central Africa region, the United States will continue to fund its long-standing Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) initiative. The Congo Basin supports tremendous biodiversity and is essential for sustaining agriculture and livelihoods across the Central Africa region but is also threatened by climate change and logging.

CARPE is one means by which the U.S. contributes to the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which brings together governmental, private sector and civil society members to work on shared conservation goals in the region.

“We are partnering to conserve ecosystems,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on December 13 at the Conservation, Climate Adaptation, and Just Energy Transition Forum. “Africa is home to some of the world’s most precious ecosystems, which are critical for combating climate change.”

At more than 200 million hectares, the Congo Basin is the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world and absorbs and stores a globally significant amount of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. Over 60 million people rely on the basin for food, shelter and work in the region, according to USAID.

CARPE’s mission is to maintain the ecological integrity of the Congo Basin’s humid forest ecosystem as climate change and man-made threats pose a challenge to its existence.

Baby gorilla on mother's back in lush greenery of rainforest (© guenterguni/Getty Images)
A baby gorilla rides on its mother’s back at Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (© guenterguni/Getty Images)

“To support the sustainable management of the Congo Basin rainforest,” he said, “we’ve invested over $600 million in the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, which brings together the U.S. Government and African and U.S. NGOs.”

CARPE currently operates in:

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Central African Republic
  • Cameroon
  • Gabon

USAID takes a threats-based approach to conservation in Congo Basin areas of high biodiversity across these countries.

“We can’t achieve any of our shared priorities — tackle any of our biggest challenges — unless we do it together as equal partners,” Blinken said.