Trees In The Congo Rainforest

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Trees In The Congo Rainforest

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

By Tristan McConnell Dec 12, 2019 7:00 am Photos by Sarah Waiswa of . This work was supported by the Pulitzer Prize.

A Primate Location In The Congo Jungle

Jean-Pierre Muzinga, a forest expert, measured the trunk of Afrormosia in the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve. Sarah Waiswa will

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

YANGAMBI RESEARCH ARCHITECTURE, Democratic Republic of the Congo – Some 70 horsepower boats cut the trip west from the town of Kisangani to just two hours. With more regular ships – floating cities full of commerce and chaos – the journey is quadrupled. Even more common, long pole boats and hand boats stretch the journey into days. The alternative is a crumbling dirt road, full of potholes and impassable in time to avoid them.

Infrastructure in the Congo is sparse and poor, they are losing their battle against the environment every day. Yet, the Yangambi research station, in the heart of the world’s second largest rainforest, is nowhere to be found.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

World’s Second Biggest Rainforest Will Soon Reopen To Large Scale Logging

Not far from the border of Kisangani town, cement and brick houses give way to huts and soon nothing but forests. Soon the banks of the river were completely gone: the trees and a kind of creeping forest called liana fell directly into the Congo. The forest wall is endlessly green, but “green” does not fit the tropical palette: fern, laurel, lime, moss, teal, emerald, neon.

When they arrived at Yangambi, the guests were greeted by a tall three-story brick building set back from the river bank and lined with trees. There were holes in the roof, and the glass was missing from the window frames. Next to it is an abandoned rubber factory, next to it are abandoned gas tanks. Half a century ago, before the Belgian colonialists left the country, it was the world’s largest research center and all this and more. Today there is no electricity, no roads, no drinking water.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

But before the forest completely took over the research station, a new generation of African scientists made it their home. They work in these remote, extreme conditions and conduct a series of experiments, including how to grow disease-resistant bananas. But one of the urgent tasks is to understand how we can help a type of tree of economic importance to reproduce better and grow faster.

Tree Measuring, Salonga Nation [image]

A worker legally cuts down a large tree in the Congolese forest in September 2019. Stretching across six countries, the Congo Basin is home to the second largest forest in the world. Samir Tounsi/AFP/Getty Images

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

Tropical forests cover about 10 percent of the world’s land; The global climate system depends on them for precipitation and carbon management and storage. They also support some of the world’s most famous ecosystems. Stretching across six countries, the Congo Basin is home to the second largest rainforest in the world. Forests cover two-thirds of DR Congo, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, roughly the size of Texas and Alaska. However, they are easily destroyed. According to Global Forest Watch, in 2018 DR Congo lost the second largest area of ​​forest of any country (after Brazil).

Some call her “Queen of the Jungle”, and others call her “Tiger”; some still know it as the “African tick”.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

Climate Change As A Threat To Native Tree Species Across Central Africa

Here’s Brice Djiofack, a Cameroonian biologist who spends his days in a wetland, deep in the deep soil, Pericopsis elata, or Afrormosia. For Dieumerci Kibinda, a Congolese breeder, it is simply “the best tree”. His fur shines silver in the shade and burns brown in the sun; Its spreading upper branches pierced the canopy, and the little lips of its crown of leaves reached up.

Muzinga is standing in front of a sunny Afrmosia tree. He and others who work at the Yangambi Research Center have developed a special relationship with trees.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

Afrormosia is a unique and vibrant member of the community of trees that fill the green heart of Africa. As a major canopy species, it is a sign and important to the health and diversity of the forest ecosystem. Its canopy provides shade and shelter for native plants; Its spreading roots are food for birds and monkeys; Her fruit is food for insects and her flowers are a home for butterflies. Its fire-resistant bark means it survives when other trees fall into natural or man-made fires, which makes it a pioneer in the restoration of fire-ravaged lands; Underground, its deep nitrogen-fixing roots siphon nutrients into the soil.

Big Trees Need Big Plots

Where Affrormosia trees are found, they create “their own forest islands,” said Nils Bourland, a forester at Belgium’s Royal Museum of Central Africa, who is helping to coordinate research on the tree in Yangambi.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

Over the course of its centuries-long life, a tree turns atmospheric carbon into solid wood that helps trap carbon dioxide. The oldest Afrormosia Bourland ever encountered is perhaps 400 years old. However, for a giant, Afrmosia hardly exceeds 1.8 meters in diameter, giving it the size of a pencil.

Even in death he gives. Wood is a much-needed source of income for the impoverished Congo. Strong, stable, easy to work with, durable and attractive, Afrormosia is sought after for shipbuilding, decking, French windows, stairs, timber and cardboard.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

The Congo Rainforest Is Losing Ability To Absorb Carbon Dioxide. That’s Bad For Climate Change.

In the Timbers of the World book of 1969, Affrormosia was described as “high quality … with a beautiful appearance reminiscent of fine teak … but without the oily nature of the latter. The heart is colored Unlike teak, it does not fade when exposed to the weather, but darkens over time.

But Afrormosia cannot be easily cut off. Its insides are hard as rock – I’ve watched scientists sweat as they try, sometimes unsuccessfully, to pull out bits of straw with a slotted hand drill. Falling with a hand saw or ax requires strength, persistence and a lot of time.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

Until a few human years ago, Afrormosia was widespread in West Africa and Central Africa. Ivory Coast is full of it – from Liberia in the west to the eastern border with Ghana. Its people are the backbone of the forests of Nigeria, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. Ghana sent Africa’s first export to the world market in 1948, after which it was quickly consumed and unsustainable.

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A few years ago I broke my neck, the woodworking machine was a disaster; By 1992, Afrormosia was added to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, or CITES, a list of species that are in danger of extinction if trade is not properly regulated. Six years later, it was placed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, a list of plants and animals in danger of extinction. Today, it can not be found in the Ivory Coast at all, and only small pockets live in the other areas of its past – except in the Congo, where there are still large habitats, but it is endangered.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

The dark green area is where only a large population of Afrormosia remains. The shaded area is where it was found in 1950. (Black is the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve in the Congo, where we visited Afrormosia.) Amanda Northrop/

Unfortunately, Affrormosia is also a difficult tree to recover from. It grows slowly and needs a lot of light – a rare resource in a dense forest. In order to survive, it has developed an unusual strategy to control its growth: racing up and out when there is plenty of light, and standing still, almost standing still, when there isn’t. As a result, the thickness of the cylindrical barrel is not guaranteed for years: a thin sapling can be many years old, existing in a suspended life, waiting for a break in the crown.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

The Journey Of Rainforest Trees

Because the tree benefits from at least some environmental disturbances, Afrormosia is a part of life and coexistence, even with people who threaten its existence. This increase in growth can occur when a tree is struck by lightning or the wind blows over it, as it occasionally does, making a hole in the forest and allowing light to flood in. It can happen when people cut down a hectare of forest to grow crops, establish a village, or clear an area to plant a certain type of tree. But wherever there is an opening in the canopy, Afrormosia uses the opportunity to flourish.

Deforestation over thousands of years by humans in Central Africa has made the idea of ​​an unspoiled African paradise, an area of ​​wild wilderness, meaningless. The question is not how to fence and protect the remaining African forests, but how to manage them carefully as the population increases.

Trees In The Congo Rainforest

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