The Deforestation of Rural Areas in the Lower Congo Province
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The Lower Congo is one of eleven provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is located southwest of Kinshasa Town Province. It has an area of approximately 53.947 km2 with a population of 1 504 361 at an estimated 237 persons per km2. The Province comprises five districts, including Lukaya and Cataracts where rural poverty is severe and the population struggle to make a living through agriculture and woodcutting. These activities result in excessive resource exploitation. The high demand for foodstuffs and the high consumption of wood (for energy, construction and export) in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the expanding towns of Matadi and Boma in the Lower Congo Province, are speeding the deforestation rate and unbalancing forest ecosystems. In addition there is the stress resulting from reduced josher (the rest period for agriculture ground), plus climate change and erosion. The phenomena that that we need to address in these two districts include deforestation, reduced josher, excessive agriculture, erosion, burning and climate change which taken together largely explain the current soil degradation. These areas are marked by excessive post deforestation savannah formation and extended areas of sandy soil, distributed throughout grass and shrub savannahs. This desertification, which is rampant in Lukaya and Cataracts, risks imprisoning the rural population in a vicious cycle of poverty if adequate solutions are not found.
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