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Forest cover and carbon stock change dynamics in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Case of the wood-fuel supply basin of Kinshasa

Gond V., Dubiez E., Boulogne M., Gigaud M., Peroches A., Pennec A., Fauvet N., Peltier R.. 2016. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques (327) : p. 19-28.

DOI: 10.19182/bft2016.327.a31293

To contribute to the development of methods for the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in Central Africa, the following research question was addressed: can analyses of land cover change help to understand and document the spatial organization and mechanisms of forest degradation? To answer this question in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Makala project mapped the tree and forest resources of Kinshasa's wood-fuel supply basin and attempted to predict how they would evolve in the future. Maps were made for four periods (1984, 2001, 2006 and 2012) using a mosaic of four LANDSAT images. The above-ground biomass was estimated in 2012 using forest inventories in 317 plots distributed across the four types of plant cover found on the Bateke plateau (4,337 trees and 44 species were recorded). This inventory data combined with the satellite data allowed us to make the first comprehensive assessment of above-ground biomass in the study area. Between 2000 and 2012, the average volume of wood-fuel fell by more than 50%. Over the entire period studied (1984 to 2012), carbon stocks fell by 75%. In the wood-fuel supply area for Kinshasa, the drastic loss of forest cover, shortened fallow periods, savannah encroachment and the decline of biomass and carbon stocks are clear signals of degradation. However, these initial estimations were derived from a small sample that was extrapolated to the entire supply area. It would be very useful to increase sampling in order to obtain more accurate and realistic figures. The experience of the Makala project clearly shows that the analysis of land cover change helps to understand and document the spatial organization and mechanisms of forest degradation. However, only with a sound wood-fuel resource policy and sustainable community land management, combined with very dynamic tree reintroduction on agricultural land, will it be possible to initiate a sustainable process of restoration.

Mots-clés : forêt tropicale; déboisement; inventaire forestier continu; séquestration du carbone; biomasse; bois de chauffage; gestion des ressources naturelles; reconstitution forestière; utilisation des terres; cartographie de l'occupation du sol; télédétection; couvert forestier; politique de développement; développement durable; république démocratique du congo; afrique centrale

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