FJA Shortlist 2022
Category: Excellence in Environmental Journalism
Author: John Cannon
Series: The Congo Basin Peatlands
The original publication is available via the following link:
The ‘idea’:Uncovering the peatlands of the Congo Basin: https://news.mongabay.com/2021/12/the-idea-uncovering-the-peatlands-of-the-congo-basin/
Layers of carbon: The Congo Basin peatlands and oil: https://news.mongabay.com/2021/12/layers-of-carbon-the-congo-basin-peatlands-and-oil/
Holding agriculture and logging at bay in the Congo peatlands: https://news.mongabay.com/2021/12/holding-agriculture-and-logging-at-bay-in-the-congo-peatlands/
Carbon and communities: The future of the Congo Basin peatlands: https://news.mongabay.com/2021/12/carbon-and-communities-the-future-of-the-congo-basin-peatlands/
The ‘idea’:Uncovering the peatlands of the Congo Basin
December 2, 2021
- In 2017, a team of scientists from the U.K. and the Republic of Congo announced the discovery of a massive peatland the size of England in the Congo Basin.
- Sometimes called the Cuvette Centrale, this peatland covers 145,529 square kilometers (56,189 square miles) in the northern Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and holds about 20 times as much carbon as the U.S. releases from burning fossil fuels in a year.
- Today, the Congo Basin peatlands are relatively intact while supporting nearby human communities and a variety of wildlife species, but threats in the form of agriculture, oil and gas exploration and logging loom on the horizon.
- That has led scientists, conservationists and governments to look for ways to protect and better understand the peatlands for the benefit of the people and animals they support and the future of the global climate. Read more
Layers of carbon: The Congo Basin peatlands and oil
December 7, 2021
- The peatlands of the Congo Basin may be sitting on top of a pool of oil, though exploration has yet to confirm just how big it may be.
- Conservationists and scientists argue that the carbon contained in this England-size area of peat, the largest in the tropics, makes keeping them intact more valuable, not to mention the habitat and resources they provide for the region’s wildlife and people.
- Researchers calculate that the peatlands contain 30 billion metric tons of carbon, or about the amount humans produce in three years.
- As the governments of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo work to develop their economies, they, along with many policymakers worldwide, argue that the global community has a responsibility to help fund the protection of the peatlands to keep that climate-warming carbon locked away. Read more
Holding agriculture and logging at bay in the Congo peatlands
December 9, 2021
- The peatlands of the Congo Basin are perhaps the most intact in the tropics, but threats from logging, agriculture and extractive industries could cause their rapid degradation, scientists say.
- In 2021, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that it was planning to end a moratorium on the issuance of logging concessions that had been in place for nearly two decades.
- The move raised concerns among conservation groups, who say the moratorium should remain in place to protect the DRC’s portion of the world’s second-largest rainforest.
- Today, timber concession boundaries overlap with the peatlands, and though some companies say they won’t cut trees growing on peat, environmental advocates say that any further issuance of logging concessions in the DRC would be irresponsible. Read more
Carbon and communities: The future of the Congo Basin peatlands
December 14, 2021
- Scientific mapping in 2017 revealed that the peatlands of the Cuvette Centrale in the Congo Basin are the largest and most intact in the world’s tropics.
- That initial work, first published in the journal Nature, was just the first step, scientists say, as work continues to understand how the peatlands formed, what threats they face from the climate and industrial uses like agriculture and logging, and how the communities of the region appear to be coexisting sustainably.
- Researchers say investing in studying and protecting the peatlands will benefit the global community as well as people living in the region because the Cuvette Centrale holds a vast repository of carbon.
- Congolese researchers and leaders say they are eager to safeguard the peatlands for the benefit of everyone, but they also say they need support from abroad to do so. Read more