Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chicago Reader Asks About Congo Rainforest

Recent correspondence with a reader in Chicago raises a delicate quandary:

"...from what I understand, the DRC has the most biodiverse ecosystem outside of the Amazon River Basin and if the DRC ever gets its act together and is able to extract and control those resources, that ecosystem would inevitably be threatened. Could it be that, environmentally, the DRC is better off now than it would be if the natural resources were exploited?"
Here was my response:

The DRC does indeed have the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world. It is a treasured resource for everyone on the planet. That doesn't mean, however, than it cannot be of great economic benefit to the country. In fact, if the timber resources were properly managed, the ecosystem's future could be enhanced.

I've written about this before in Congo Rainforest Irony, which talks about some of the pluses and minuses of timber development activities in the DRC. The full benefits of this renewable resource, though, won't be realized until there is stronger oversight of contracts and monitoring of logging activities, both of which are expensive undertakings when so many other needs are crying to be met.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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