Democratic Republic Of Congo Fights To Protect Its Rainforest (VIDEO)

12/08/2011 09:20 pm ET

While the U.N. Climate Conference talks take place in South Africa, a more intese battle for the environment rages elsewhere on the continent.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government is using limited resources and manpower to police and protect the country's vast natural resources. The Congo Basin, occupying over a million square miles, has the second largest rainforest in the world and covers an area larger than Spain, according to the BBC.

The BBC's Andrew Harding explains in the video that Congolese troops face a constant battle against "loggers, farmers and a lethal assortment of militia groups." Africa's "booming" economic growth in recent years now means that the region's rainforest is "suddenly at risk."

Thierry Bodson from the World Wildlife Fund of Eastern Congo told the BBC, "We cannot say 'don't build roads,' or 'don't create economic activity.' What we can do is at least identify the most fragile place, the most biodiverse place that we should protect, and try to arrent a well-sustainable development."

National Geographic's James Deutsch writes, "These are the best of times and the worst of times in the Congo Basin." He says Democratic progress and sustainable resource management is emerging, but "foreign investors and their local allies" are determined to exploit "oil, timber, wildlife, minerals, and land."

The BBC reports that the future of DRC's natural resources is at least partially tied to the climate talks in Durban. This includes REDD+, a plan to "attach a solid financial value to the carbon stored in large forests." The program would reportedly create a carbon "market" and lead to "billions of dollars in incentives for governments and communities to manage and protect their forests."

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