Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Human Impact on the Ecosystem
Human logging, resource extraction, and civil strife have had a deleterious effect on the Congo Rainforest ecosystem. For decades now, commercial logging has threatened the stability of plant life and wildlife alike. This large industrial logging effort requires a substantial amount of logging infrastructure, which prohibits the repopulation of the lost trees in deforested areas. On top of this industrial logging, clearing for subsistence agriculture further contributes to the loss of forested land. Combined, these logging efforts deplete the forest at an average rate of about 0.5% per year, or over 300,000 hectares. In addition to timber, the Congo rainforest holds numerous other natural resources. Due to the poor economic condition of the states in which the Congo lies, these resources are routinely exploited for economic gain with little regard for the environmental damage it causes to the forest and its wildlife. The poor economic condition goes hand in hand with the high degree of political instability and civil strife continuously occurring throughout the Congo region. As with any violent warfare, the civil strife in the Congo decimates the forests where it takes place. The refugees fleeing from this strife typically have no where to go but deeper into the forest, where they are forced to exploit the land for survival. This means killing wildlife and ruining the surrounding forest to make room for camps. On numerous occasions this has even translated into the destruction of National Parks and other protected areas. The final result of all of these factors is deforestation on a massive scale, and the rapid depletion of much of the forests' wildlife, much of which is endemic and now endangered. Overall, there exists a strenuous relationship between the forest and the human population. Without massive restructuring of the political and economic agendas of all peoples within the region, the Congo is doomed to continue to experience massive destruction over the next several decades.