In a world emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress successfully highlighted the dual existential crises the planet faces: climate change and biodiversity collapse.
Resistance of African tropical forests to an extreme climate anomaly
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The responses of tropical forests to environmental change are critical uncertainties in predicting the future impacts of climate change. The positive phase of the 2015–2016 El Niño Southern Oscillation resulted in unprecedented heat and low precipitation in the tropics with substantial impacts on the global carbon cycle.
The role of African tropical forests is uncertain as their responses to short-term drought and temperature anomalies have yet to be determined using on-the-ground measurements. African tropical forests may be particularly sensitive because they exist in relatively dry conditions compared with Amazonian or Asian forests, or they may be more resistant because of an abundance of drought-adapted species.
Here, we report responses of structurally intact old-growth lowland tropical forests inventoried within the African Tropical Rainforest Observatory Network (AfriTRON). We use 100 long-term inventory plots from six countries each measured at least twice prior to and once following the 2015–2016 El Niño event.
These plots experienced the highest temperatures and driest conditions on record. The record temperature did not significantly reduce carbon gains from tree growth or significantly increase carbon losses from tree mortality, but the record drought did significantly decrease net carbon uptake. Overall, the long-term biomass increase of these forests was reduced due to the El Niño event, but these plots remained a live biomass carbon sink (0.51 ± 0.40 Mg C ha−1 y−1) despite extreme environmental conditions. Our analyses, while limited to African tropical forests, suggest they may be more resistant to climatic extremes than Amazonian and Asian forests.
Tropical forests are a critical component of the global carbon cycle because they are extensive (1), carbon dense (2), and highly productive (3). Therefore, consistent impacts on these forests can have global consequences. Their global importance is seen via atmospheric measurements of CO2, showing a near-neutral exchange of carbon across the terrestrial tropics; hence, the large carbon losses from deforestation and degradation are offset by the significant carbon uptake from intact tropical forests and tropical forest regrowth (4). Independently, ground observations of structurally intact old-growth tropical forests also show this uptake, with forest biomass carbon increasing across remaining African (5, 6), Amazonian (7), and Asian (8) forests. Yet, unlike in Amazonia (9, 10) and Asia (8), the impact of a severe drought or a drought and high-temperature event in African tropical forests has never been documented using ground data.
High temperatures test the physiological tolerance of tropical trees. Above optimal temperatures, plants reduce their carbon uptake (11). This includes closing stomata to avoid water loss, reducing internal CO2 concentrations, and reducing carbon assimilation in the leaf. Higher temperatures increase vapor pressure deficits (12) and alongside reduced precipitation, increase the chance of hydraulic failure (13). Individually or in combination, these impacts can slow growth and may eventually kill trees (14), although tropical seedling growth can increase with experimental warming (15). As well as reduced carbon uptake, plants use more carbon under higher temperatures; respiration rates tend to increase with short-term increases in temperature both at the leaf (16) and forest stand (17) scales, again reducing tree growth and potentially leading to tree death via carbon starvation (18). Recent analyses of tropical forest plot data showed increased temperatures over the prior 5 y were associated with lower levels of carbon uptake from tree growth and higher levels of carbon loss from tree mortality (6). Furthermore, biome-wide spatial analyses suggest the existence of a temperature threshold above which carbon uptake from tree growth declines rapidly (19). Thus, with high temperature anomalies, we expect reduced tree growth and increased tree mortality.
Drought also impacts trees as water deficits can slow tree growth and if of sufficient strength or duration, can kill trees, either via hydraulic failure or carbon starvation. Hydraulic failure of the xylem has been found across species and biomes in response to drought, while carbon starvation has been documented in some locations including one tropical site (20). Inventory plot observations before, during, and after droughts show the impacts of drought in Asia and Amazonia. In Asia, the 1997 to 1998 El Niño temporarily halted the carbon sink in live biomass in Bornean forests by increasing tree mortality (8, 21). In Amazonia, severe droughts in 2005 and 2010 elevated biomass mortality and in 2010, also significantly reduced tree growth (9, 10). The Amazon biomass carbon sink was reversed by the 2005 drought, and while it rapidly recovered, it is weaker since 2005 (7), potentially due to high-temperature impacts (6). However, while the impacts of short-term drought in their long-term context have been investigated in Amazonia and Asia, in Africa we so far lack any ground-based assessment of large-scale drought impacts due to a paucity of observations.
Although the broad responses of African tropical forests to temperature and drought anomalies might be hypothesized from first principles and the responses of other continents, there are considerable uncertainties. On the one hand, there are grounds for expecting African forests to be especially vulnerable. African forests are already remarkably dry compared with Amazonian and Asian tropical forests, with almost 90% receiving <2,000 mm y−1 precipitation (22), the approximate amount necessary to maintain photosynthesis at high levels throughout the year (23). This low rainfall suggests African tropical forests may already be close to their physiological and ecological limits. Additionally, the lower temperatures African forests tend to experience—as many are situated at slightly higher altitude than forests in Amazonia—could result in limited species tolerace of high temperatures. African forests are also much less species rich than forests in Amazonia and Asia (2, 24), with a relative lack of species in high-temperature African forests (25), and this lower diversity could conceivably drive lower resistance to climate anomalies (26).
Alternatively, the relatively dry conditions of African tropical forests may, perhaps counterintuitively, confer drought resistance. African climate has oscillated between wetter conditions in interglacial periods and cooler and drier conditions in glacial periods (27), so the African pool of species present today may be more drought tolerant because some of the most mesic-adapted biodiversity has been lost over time (28, 29). Drier African tropical forest tree diversity is similar to that of the Amazon or Asia, but tree diversity does not increase with shorter dry seasons in Africa as it does in Amazonia (25), suggesting that most wet-adapted species have been lost and either the dry-adapted species remained or these lineages have diversified more, potentially conferring drought resistance. Indeed, a 40-y drought in West Africa led to an increased abundance of deciduous species in tropical forests in Ghana (30, 31). The relatively cool conditions of African tropical forests might also imply resistance as these forests are further from a potential high-temperature threshold that may limit photosynthesis. Overall, African tropical forests could plausibly be more or less vulnerable to temperature and drought anomalies than Amazonian tropical forests.
Understanding how intact African forests respond to climate anomalies is vital, not least because they have been providing a substantial long-term carbon sink, reducing the rate and magnitude of climate change (5, 6). The impacts of environmental change on African tropical forests are also important because of unique aspects of their structure. African forests typically have high aboveground biomass and so, high carbon storage per unit area—on average, one-third more than Amazon forests (2, 32, 33). African forests are composed of a smaller number of stems, ∼425 ha−1 (≥100-mm diameter), compared with ∼600 ha−1 in Amazonia and Asia (32) and so, are more dominated by large trees. Hence, even small decreases in growth of the large dominant trees or modest increases in the mortality of these trees could lead to large carbon stock reductions and a loss of the live biomass carbon sink.
The 2015–2016 El Niño event provided a first opportunity to assess the impact of high temperatures and strong water deficits on the ∼450 Mha (6) of African tropical forests. While three very strong El Niño events have occurred in the last 50 y (1982 to 1983, 1997 to 1998, and 2015 to 2016), only the latter occurred after a network of long-term inventory plots had been established in Africa and was poised to capture an El Niño event (5). At the onset of the 2015–2016 El Niño, we organized a specific “emergency” six-nation remeasurement program to capture the impact of the climate anomaly on African tropical forests. We therefore combine climate data with measurements from 100 African Tropical Rainforest Observatory Network (AfriTRON) long-term inventory plots that were remeasured to capture the 2015–2016 El Niño event to address the following questions. 1) Did African tropical forests experience unprecedented temperature anomalies in the 2015–2016 El Niño? 2) Did African tropical forests experience unprecedented drought in the 2015–2016 El Niño? 3) Which climate anomalies drove forest responses to the 2015–2016 El Niño? 4) What were the overall impacts on the monitored old-growth structurally intact tropical forests?
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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) summit ended in Marseille on Friday, September 10, 7 days after its inauguration. A number of ATIBT members participated, sometimes with a stand. It was above all a return to direct meetings between many people who had only seen each other through screens for many months!
Dubai WoodShow has been the leading trade show for the wood and woodworking machinery sectors since 2005. The show has established its position in the Middle East region as the most dynamic platform for the wood and woodworking professionals.
Deforestation continues at a worrying pace worldwide, except in temperate and boreal countries. It is caused by the race for land, underpinned by population growth and rising global demand for “deforestation-prone” products. Moreover, with climate change, mega-fires are now posing unprecedented threats to forests.
The Marseille Manifesto aims to capture a limited number of key messages that are globally and currently relevant and which relate to the Congress proceedings, including any notable and important commitments and announcements that emerged from Congress events. The focus is on the post-Covid recovery, the biodiversity crisis and climate emergency.
Following four busy and inspirational days of work, the Forum concluded its deliberations. During another bustling day, participants attended thematic sessions and high-level dialogues during the morning. In the afternoon, seven thematic plenaries outlined the main take-home messages from the Forum’s discussions, followed by the official Forum closing plenary.
While 2019 saw a general rise in all types of financial assets, 2020 turned out to be a tumultuous year. The coronavirus pandemic triggered sharp falls in February- March, followed by a sharp rebound from the end of March to the end of August, thanks to unprecedented monetary and fiscal support from the world’s major central banks and governments. The second wave of Covid-19 permitted further corrections in September and October, before a year-end upturn linked to excellent news on the vaccine front.
We hereby invite you to join the ceremony online. Due to the current German restrictions related to Covid-19, participation is made possible virtually. Please use the following link to follow the ceremony online on September 7th, at 10:00 a.m. CEST....
World Conservation Congress, Marseille, France: Congo Basin mobilizes around its Stand - Congo Basin initiatives
Let's commit together to "save the world's last lung and net positive tropical carbon balance" ... Download your invitation...
Mobilization of the media to cover the participation of the Congo Basin in the World Conservation Congress
High-Level Event on International Engagement for the Protection of the Congo Basin Ecosystems and their vicinity. Theme: · Biodiversity and climate finance for the Congo basin rainforest and their vicinity, as a cost-effective nature-based solution. Date: September 05, 2021. September 5, 2021... Please download the press invitations...
To read: 'My hope is to see international action match the critical need'; Take part in the IUCN World Conservation Congress; GEF publishes data on IATI platform in transparency push; Integrated programming in the Global Environment Facility
Third Wildlife Forum to explore best ways to support the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework implementation – registrations open. -Traffic
The Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW) is hosting its Third Wildlife Forum with the aim of exploring how to support the implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework ahead of the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held in Kunming, China.
Written by a group of experts specializing in conservation in Central Africa, with the financial support of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OEACP) and the European Union (EU), through the BIOPAMA and RIOFAC projects, as well as GIZ, “Protected Areas of Central Africa: Status 2020” follows a first edition published in 2015, which has now become the flagship publication on protected areas in the region.
French Pavilion - "Alliance for the Conservation of Rainforests ": Invitation to a high-level event on 8 September 2021 - IUCN World Congress
The French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs is pleased to invite you, in person or virtually, to the event organized on Wednesday 8 September at 6.30 p.m. at the French Pavilion on the occasion of the IUCN World Congress in Marseille: "Alliance for the conservation of rainforests".
Invitation - Creation of a Business Forum for Sustainable Value Chains in Africa at the IUCN World Congress
The French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, The Gabonese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The National Group for Rainforests, the French Advisers for Foreign Trade and Africa Business Forum, Institut Choiseul, all supporting the Alliance for the Conservation of Rainforests, request the pleasure of your participation, during the IUCN World Congress in Marseille, to the event they jointly organize on Monday, September 6 at 5pm on the French pavilion, in person and virtually : "Creation of a Business Forum for implementation of sustainable value chains in Africa".
The Tropical Forest Symposium is therefore aimed at policy makers (in Germany and abroad), the German and international (expert) public as well as at tropical forest countries and donor nations. Please find the invitation to the Tropical Forest Symposium, which you can follow online on September 8th, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m CEST.
Indigenous territories in the Bolivian, Brazilian and Colombian Amazon avoid between 42.8 million and 59.7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. To commemorate the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, David Kaimowitz explains why it’s time to join forces with indigenous peoples for the good of the planet.
On 17 February this year, Aruká Juma, the last elder of the Juma people in Brazil’s Amazonian rainforest, died of COVID-19. According to NGO Instituto Socioambiental, he is one of more than a thousand indigenous people to have died from the virus in Brazil, where COVID-19 has affected more than 150 native groups.
Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns has been one of the greatest global challenges over the past fifty years. With the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 12, “Ensure sustainable consumption and production,” and rising interest in the circular economy model, there is an opportunity to set systems-wide goals for all societies, recognizing that key drivers and solutions lie in our economic, financial and governance decision-making.
Ninth Meeting of the CBFP Governing Council in Douala: major strides in the implementation of the CBFP and partners' roadmap and new challenges ahead
The 9th Meeting of the CBFP Governing Council was held on Friday 16 July 2021 in Douala Cameroon by video conference at the Hotel La Falaise. This meeting was part of the CBFP's cooperation framework, which provides for the CBFP Council to meet twice a year, and followed Experts Meeting to follow up on the N'Djamena Conference on the development of country investment plans focusing on zoonoses, transhumance, the fight against cross-border poaching, security and sustainable development between the Sahel and the Congo Basin, which was held from 12 to 15 July 2021 at the same venue.
The matter of the Democratic Republic of the Congo taking over the rotating chairmanship of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in 2022 was discussed by President Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and Mr. Gilberto Da Piedade Verrissimo, Chairman of the sub-regional economic organization’s commission on Monday, 2 August 2021 at the City of the African Union.
Videoconference, 30 July 2021 – Convened by His Excellency Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO, President of the Republic of the Congo, Head of State, Current Chair of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the XIXth Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECCAS took place.
We are pleased to inform you that INTERHOLCO's headquarters are moving to a new office in Baar. Effective Monday, 23 August 2021, our new business address will be as follows: Neuhofstrasse 25, 6340 Baar, Switzerland. Business hours and telephone numbers will stay the same. Please update your contact book.
State of Central Africa's Protected Areas 2020: A New report a new report proposes avenues to improve their effectiveness – OFAC
Central Africa currently has more than 200 protected areas covering a total of 800 000 km², or twice the size of Cameroon. Across the 10 countries of the region, the number and size of protected areas have doubled in the last 20 years.
Congo Basin Forest Partnership looks to help the Congo and Congo Basin Climate Commission prepare for COP 26 in Glasgow
The Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development and the Congo Basin Arlette SOUDAN-NONAULT, granted an audience to Dr Christian RUCK, Facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report is the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations.
Please download the July newsletter of the Dzanga Sangha Protected Areas. This month, some good news. On the one hand, no cases of COVID 19 have been detected in the region and the possibility of reopening the Park to tourism is being considered.
Slated to hold from 3 to 5 August 2021 in Brazzaville (Congo), the workshop will gather agriculture and forestry experts from the 11 ECCAS member countries, representatives of the African Union, COMIFAC, NEPAD, civil society organizations, and development partners (UNESCO, FAO, UNDP, BDEAC, CIFOR), among others.
Berlin, August 05, 2021, Sweden has officially joined the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). In this connection, Sweden believes its activities in Africa fall in line with the principles outlined in the cooperation framework of CBFP members and COMIFAC’s convergence plan with which it has familiarised itself, aimed at promoting sustainable management of ecosystems and conservation of biodiversity in Central Africa.
Germany - COMIFAC Cooperation: German Ambassador to Congo, alongside parliamentarians, women and youth, for a sustainable management of Central African forest ecosystems
Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, hosted a series of three workshops from 14 to 25 June 2021 at the Hotel PEFACO Maya Maya. The first workshop focused on the planning and consultation of the Network of Young Leaders for the Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems (REJEFAC), the second on the Network of Parliamentarians for the Sustainable Management of Central African Forest Ecosystems (REPAR) and the third on the African Women's Network for Sustainable Development (REFADD).
Countries and sub-regional institutions concerned with N’Djamena Declaration jump start its implementation in Douala, Cameroon - Towards continuous collaboration between the Sahel and the Congo Basin
The Honourable Dr. Christian Ruck, Federal Republic of Germany CBFP Facilitator gives a new impetus to the implementation of the N'Djaména Declaration - Douala (Cameroon) - 12 to 15 July 2002, an Expert follow-up meeting to the N’Djamena Conference was held to develop country investment plans geared towards transboundary transhumance, zoonoses, the fight against transboundary poaching, security and sustainable development between the Sahel and the Congo Basin. The Country Expert Meeting was held with the financial support of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the technical support of the Federal Republic of Germany CBFP Facilitation and the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), GIZ BSB Yamoussa Project. The Press Release, the proposed political / institutional support, the roadmap for country investment plans and N’Djamena 2 and the task force specifications are available for download on the CBFP website...
On 19 July 2021, during its 44th session, the World Heritage Committee decided to remove Salonga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger due to improvements in its state of conservation.
The human-wildlife conflict report: “A future for all: the need for human-wildlife coexistence” was published on July 8, detailing the complex nature of human-wildlife conflict, its impacts and how to address them so that people and animals can coexist peacefully. This pack raises awareness of the report, its significance and encourages people to raise greater awareness on the issue.
Results of the work of the geographical block WEST. Please download the Document here below:
Results of the work of the geographical block WEST. Please download the Document here below: