The U.S. Forest Service International Programs, through USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, is working in Central Africa to train communities on improved fire management. Uncontrolled fires pose a huge threat to Central African forests and can cause large releases of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when burned, further exacerbating the effects of climate change. However, fire within forest-savannah mosaic landscapes in the Congo Basin can be both a management tool as well as a threat. If used in a sustainable manner, fire can help maintain pastureland and protect forests, farms, plantations, and villages. If used haphazardly, intentional and accidental fires can burn out of control, impacting large areas and threatening villages, farms, and forests. Here, during a trailing in May 2017, a local “fire brigade” is trained in how to control and suppress fire so that they can better deal with uncontrolled fires in their communities.
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Participants in the peatland forest inventory training present their results to trainers Dr. John Hribljan of the U.S. Forest Service (far right) and Basile Mpati (second right), who works with the National Center for Forest Inventory and Zoning in the Republic of the Congo (CNIAF). This training, held by the U.S. Forest Service International Programs and the FAO and supported by USAID’s Central Africa Program for the Environment and the SilvaCarbon program, was an opportunity for technicians from the DRC Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development's Department of Forest Inventory and Zoning to learn about inventory sampling methods in peat forests so that they will be able to more accurately calculate how much carbon is currently stored in the country's forests. The Democratic Republic of Congo covers over 900,000 square miles and contains 60 percent of the Congo Basin’s forests, the second-largest tropical forest in the world after the Amazon. While there are many initiatives being put in place to sustainably manage these forests, the ability of national and regional actors to map and monitor them is an essential step in identifying critically threatened areas and developing effective resource management solutions to combat climate change.