Global Warming and Carbon Sequestration in Africa’s Forests: Potential Rewards for New Policy Directions in the Congo Basin

  • Ernest L. MoluaEmail author
Part of the Natural Resource Management and Policy book series (NRMP, volume 53)


The Congo forest is not only an important biodiversity hotspot, providing direct ecosystem goods and services for the livelihood of more than 50 million people, it is also of global importance holding almost 10% of the world’s forest-based carbon thus acting as the planet’s second lung after the Amazon and providing a carbon-sink potential to mitigate global warming. This potential strategically positions the countries in the region in the climate change negotiations aimed to enhance forests’ capacity for sequestering carbon. These countries in turn rely heavily on forest ecosystem goods and services to catalyse economic development. The dilemma for policy is to manage the trade-off between exploitation and conservation of forests under new initiatives such as the REDD+ (reduce emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and foster conservation). Given also that countries within the basin stand to benefit from the emerging global carbon market, if correct measures are taken in managing existing natural resources, and being active participants in the international climate change negotiations, natural resource managers and forest policy makers would have to take measures to promote the sequestration of carbon in forest biomass while accounting for forest exploitation. Based on this premise, this paper reviews the interplay of global warming and carbon sequestration potential in the Congo Basin forest and provides illumination for new policy directions to enhance the capacity for adaptation and mitigation.


Congo basin Climate change Carbon sequestration Policy Forest 


  1. Akkermans T, Wim T, Nicole, PM, Van L (2013) The regional climate impact of a realistic future deforestation scenario in the Congo basin, Journal of Climate 27: 2714–2734. Scholar
  2. Atkinson G, Hamilton, K, Ruta, G, Van Der Mensbrugghe, D (2011) Trade in ‘virtual carbon’: empirical results and implications for policy. Global Environmental Change 21 (2): 563–574, Scholar
  3. Benítez Pablo C, McCallum, I, Obersteiner, M, Yamagata,Y (2007). Global potential for carbon sequestration: Geographical distribution, country risk and policy implications, Ecological Economics 60(3) :572–583, Scholar
  4. Boscolo, M, Jeffrey, R, Vincent (2003) Nonconvexities in the production of timber, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 46(2): 251–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown,HCP, Barry S, Olufunso, AS, Denis, JS, Johnson, N (2014) Climate change and forest communities: prospects for building institutional adaptive capacity in the Congo basin forests. AMBIO (Journal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences), 43:759–769. Scholar
  6. Brown, HCP, Smit, B, Sonwa, DJ, Somorin, OA, Nkem, JA (2011) Institutional perceptions of opportunities and challenges of REDD+ in the Congo Basin. The Journal of Environment & Development 20: 381–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. CBFP (2006) The forests of the Congo basin: state of the forests 2006. Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), YaoundeGoogle Scholar
  8. Carrasco LR, Nghiem, TPL, Sunderland, T, Koh, LP (2014) Economic valuation of ecosystem services fails to capture biodiversity value of tropical forests, Biological Conservation178:163–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Channel, R, Lomolino, MV (2000) Dynamic biogeography and conservation of endangered species. Nature 403: 84–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chidumayo, EN (2005) Effects of climate on the growth of exotic and indigenous trees in central Zambia. Journal of Biogeography 32: 111–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Craig, MHI, Kleinschmidt, JB, Nawn, D et al (2004) Exploring 30 years of malaria case data in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: part I. The impact of climatic factors. Tropical Medicine and International Health 9: 1247–1257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davidson, OK, Halsnaes, S, Huq, M et al (2003) The development and climate nexus: the case of sub-Saharan Africa. Climate Policy 3S1: S97–S113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Groot, R, Brander, L, van der Ploeg, S et al (2012) Global estimates of the value of ecosystems and their services in monetary units. Ecosystem Services 1(1): 50–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dixon RK, Jack KW, Schroeder, PE (1993). Conservation and sequestration of carbon: The potential of forest and agroforest management practices?Global Environmental Change 3(2): 159–173, Scholar
  15. Erasmus, BFN, Van Jaarsveld, AN, Chown, SL et al (2002) Vulnerability of South African animal taxa to climate change. Global Change Biology 8: 679–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gaston, GS, Brown, M, Lorenzini, Singh, KD (1998) State and change in carbon pools in the forests of tropical Africa, Global Change Biology 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hély, C, Bremond, L, Alleaume, S, Smith, B, Sykes, TM, Guiot, J (2006) Sensitivity of African biomes to changes in the precipitation regime. Global Ecology and Biogeography 15: 258–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hoare, AL (2007) Clouds on the Horizon: The Congo Basin’s Forests and Climate Change. London: Rainforest Foundation UKGoogle Scholar
  19. Hulme, M, Doherty, R, Ngara, T et al (2001) African climate change: 1900 – 2100. Climate Research 17: 145–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hoen HF, Solberg BS (1997) CO2-taxing, timber rotations, and market implications. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology 27(Special Issue):S151–S162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Indrajaya Y, van der Werf E, Weikard H-P, Mohren F, van Ierland EC (2016) The potential of REDD+ for carbon sequestration in tropical forests: Supply curves for carbon storage for Kalimantan, Indonesia. Forest Policy and Economics 71:1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ing-Marie, G, Aklilu, AZ (2016) Policy design for forest carbon sequestration: A review of the literature. Forest Policy and Economics 70:128–136, Scholar
  23. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) Climate change 2007: synthesis report. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2001). Climate Change 2001. Synthesis report. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.Google Scholar
  26. Justice, C, Wilkie, D, Zhang, Q et al (2001) Central African forests, carbon and climate change. Climate Research 17:229–246, Scholar
  27. Kalonga SK, Midtgaard F, Klanderud K (2016) Forest certification as a policy option in conserving biodiversity: An empirical study of forest management in Tanzania. Forest Ecology and Management 361:1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Karsenty, A (1999) Economic instruments for tropical forests. The Congo Basin Case. Montpellier, CIRAD. London, Lied. CIFOR, 2000.Google Scholar
  29. Kirilenko, AP, Roger, AS (2007) Climate change impacts on forestry, PNAS 104(50) 19697–19702, Scholar
  30. Karsenty A, Vogel A, Castell F (2014) Carbon rights, REDD+ and payments for environmental services? Environmental Science & Policy 35:20–29. Scholar
  31. Larson, AM (2011) Forest tenure reform in the age of climate change: Lessons for REDD+. Global Environmental Change 21(2): 540–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lovett, JC, Midgely, GF, Barnard, PB, (2005) Climate change and ecology in Africa. African Journal of Ecology 43: 279–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Magadza, CHD (2000) Climate change impacts and human settlements in Africa: prospects for adaptation. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 61: 193–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Marland, G, Schlamadinger, B (1997) Forests for carbon sequestration or fossil fuel substitution? A sensitivity analysis. Biomass and bioenergy 13(6): 389–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mégevand, C, (1998) Les programs forestiers. Un moyen de lutte efficace contre le réchauffement global. Mémoire INA - PG, Paris.Google Scholar
  36. Nasi R, Billand A, van Vliet N (2012) Managing for timber and biodiversity in the Congo Basin. Forest Ecology and Management 268:103–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Neha R, Soanes M, Norton A, Anderson S, Steele P, Tenzing J, MacGregor J (2015) A fair climate deal in Paris means adequate finance to deliver INDCs in LDCs. Briefing Paper, International Institute for Environment and Development, London Scholar
  38. Nelson HW, Williamson, TB, Macaulay, C, Mahony, C (2016). Assessing the potential for forest management practitioner participation in climate change adaptation. Forest Ecology and Management. 360: 388–399 Scholar
  39. Nhamo G, Nhamo, S, (2016). One global deal from Paris 2015: Convergence and contestations on the future climate mitigation agenda, South African Journal of International Affairs, Scholar
  40. Nhamo, G (2016) New global sustainable development agenda: A focus on Africa, Sustainable Development, 2016, 11 October 2016)Google Scholar
  41. Nogherotto, R, Coppola, E, Giorgi, F, Mariotti, L (2013) Impact of Congo Basin deforestation on the African monsoon. Atmospheric Science Letters 14: 45–51, Scholar
  42. O’Connor, D (2008) Governing the global commons: Linking carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation in tropical forests? Global Environmental Change. 18(3): 368–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Patz, JA, Campbell-Lendrum, D, Holloway, T, Foley, JA (2005) Impact of regional climate change on human health. Nature 438: 310–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Reynolds TW, (2012) Institutional Determinants of Success among Forestry-Based Carbon Sequestration Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. WorldDevelopment 40(3): 542–554. Scholar
  45. Root, TL, Price, JT, Hall, KR et al (2003) Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature 421: 57–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Schoene, DHF, Bernier, PY (2012) Adapting forestry and forests to climate change: A challenge to change the paradigm. Forest Policy and Economics 24: 12–19, Scholar
  47. Solomon, AM, Kirilenko, AP (1997) Climate change and terrestrial biomes: what if trees do not migrate? Global Ecology and Biogeography 6: 139–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Somorin, OA, Carolyn, H, Brown, P et al (2012) The Congo Basin forests in a changing climate: Policy discourses on adaptation and mitigation (REDD+). Global Environmental Change 22(1):288–298. Scholar
  49. Somorin, OA, (2010) Climate impacts, forest-dependent rural livelihoods and adaptation strategies: a review. African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology 4 (13): 903–912Google Scholar
  50. Stern, N (2008) Stern Review on the Effects of Climate Change. Downloaded from Scholar
  51. Tipper, R (2000) Forestry and the Clean Development Mechanism, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management. Scholar
  52. van Deusen, P (2010) Carbon sequestration potential of forest land: Management for products and bioenergy versus preservation. Biomass and Bioenergy 34(12):1687–1694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vanacker, V, Linderman, M, Lupo, F, Flasse, S, Lambin, E (2005) Impact of short-term rainfall fluctuation on interannual land cover change in sub-Saharan Africa. Global Ecology and Biogeography 14: 123–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wilkie, D, Shaw, E, Rotberg, F et al (2000) Roads, development, and conservation in the Congo basin. Conservation Biology 14(6): 1614–1622, Scholar
  55. Youssoufa, BM, Sonwa, DJ, Tiani, A (2015) Adapting the Congo Basin forests management to climate change: Linkages among biodiversity, forest loss, and human well-being Forest Policy and Economics 50: 1–10, Scholar
  56. Youssoufa, BM, Somorin, O, Sonwa, DJ et al (2011). Forests and climate change adaptation policies in Cameroon. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 16: 369–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhang, H, Henderson-Sellers, A, McGuffie, K (2001) The compounding effects of tropical deforestation and greenhouse warming on climate. Climatic Change 49: 309–338, Scholar
  58. Zhou M (2015) Adapting sustainable forest management to climate policy uncertainty: A conceptual framework. Forest Policy and Economics 59: 66–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary MedicineUniversity of BueaBueaCameroon

Personalised recommendations