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Research Report

Agriculture and deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: A synthesis of the current state of knowledge

Amy Ickowitz
Daniel Slayback
Philippe Asanzi
Robert Nasi
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 28
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    After Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is home to the largest contiguous expanse of tropical forest in the world. Most researchers agree that deforestation in the DRC has been relatively low in the past particularly when compared to the rates in other tropical countries. However, researchers and international agencies have expressed increasing concern that this rate is likely to accelerate if new policies are not adopted. Many of those concerned about future deforestation argue that the primary driver is shifting cultivation and that if nothing is done to change the practice, it will cause even more forest...

  2. (pp. 2-9)

    Very few satellite remote sensing-based estimates of deforestation in the DRC were undertaken before the year 2000. This has changed dramatically in the last few years; between 2008 and 2014 at least 10 studies have been completed that attempt to estimate the overall rate of deforestation in the DRC. Unfortunately, these studies use different methods, different types of imagery and different definitions of deforestation — making comparison difficult. Thus, there is no definitive estimate on either the extent of forest cover in the DRC or the rate of deforestation. The methods used by the relevant studies can be divided into...

  3. (pp. 10-14)

    We used both Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar to search for articles from January–March 2014. We carried out a targeted search using the following combination of key words “deforestation and agriculture and Democratic Republic of Congo,” and then more general searches using only “deforestation and Democratic Republic of Congo” and “agriculture and democratic Republic of Congo.” All articles that were related to agriculture in the DRC that had any discussion of deforestation were reviewed, as were articles that were related to deforestation in the DRC and had any discussion of agriculture. The papers reviewed from Google Scholar were...

  4. (pp. 15-15)

    While there is some variation in the recent deforestation estimates for the DRC, depending on definitions, methods and approaches, it is clear that deforestation is taking place, albeit at a slower rate than in the rest of the tropics. This deforestation is concentrated in Kinshasa and Bas-Congo provinces, in the eastern DRC and around medium-sized cities along the Congo River. Rates of primary forest loss appear to be very low, but are accelerating.

    Agriculture appears to be the main driver of deforestation and its impact will likely increase as the population of the DRC grows. While some researchers argue that...