Culture of the Congo Peatlands

Culture of the Congo Peatlands

Air Date: Week of February 25, 2022

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The Congo basin is residence to quite a few endemic plant and tree species however there are timber concessions across the area that would doubtlessly pose a menace to the well being of the ecosystem. (Picture: Corinne Staley, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Western scientists solely realized in regards to the Congo Basin peatlands in 2017 however indigenous communities have averted disturbing the peatland whereas sustainably searching and fishing within the space for generations. Raoul Monsembula grew up within the space and now works with Greenpeace Africa. He spoke with host Bobby Bascomb for a neighborhood perspective on the area.


BASCOMB: Properly, the peatlands of the Congo have been delivered to Western consideration by a crew of Congolese and British scientists in 2017. However indigenous communities have recognized in regards to the area for generations and have a protracted historical past of sustainably utilizing the peatlands for searching, fishing, and for medicinal crops. For a neighborhood perspective, I’m joined now by Raoul Monsembula, a scientist who grew up within the Congo Basin and now works because the Central Africa Regional Coordinator for Greenpeace Africa. He’s additionally a biology professor on the College of Kinshasa and labored with researchers from the College of Leeds to map out and doc the Congo peatlands. Raoul, welcome to Dwelling on Earth!

MONSEMBULA: Thanks for inviting me.

BASCOMB: So this space is new to the western world however, after all, native folks have recognized about it for generations. Are you able to inform me a bit about your relationship with the peatlands and the way the communities surrounding it used the world?

MONSEMBULA: The elders mentioned to us it was a productive space for the fish and animals, and we might solely do seasonal fishing and searching, and gather some firewood as a result of it is a fragile space, the place the fish and animals reproduce. We solely use it throughout the dry season. We do not go there throughout the moist season when the animals are reproducing.

We have been suggested by our elders to by no means begin a hearth in these areas, as a result of these areas have been important for meals. It’s additionally an space the place we practiced conventional ceremonies.

And also you don’t see loads of hospitals right here however you don’t see folks dying loads as a result of they’re utilizing medicinal bushes from the peatland and consuming forest fruit.

BASCOMB: In order a scientist from the DRC who grew up there, you spent your life on this area, how stunned have been you to study in regards to the huge quantity of carbon locked up within the soil there?

MONSEMBULA: When the scientists got here right here and we realized in regards to the peatland, that night time it was one of many largest celebrations I’ve ever had in my life, we danced and we drank with the villagers as a result of even when we didn’t know in regards to the peatlands for a very long time we knew that they have been particular. Whilst we now start to scientifically perceive what this space means, the elders knew for a very long time that this space would profit humanity. This discovery made us very completely happy even when we have been not sure if carbon would have any monetary significance or not! It’s as if we’re serving to the world struggle towards local weather change.

BASCOMB: So it sounds to me just like the native individuals who reside there have a very actually invested curiosity in protecting this place intact and protecting it simply as it’s to proceed to make use of it in so many alternative methods.

MONSEMBULA: The issue is in Indonesia they’re rising loads of rice and palm oil crops within the peatlands, so the youth suppose why not develop them right here too as a result of it is easy cash. Many of the younger folks, those who’re lower than 25 years outdated, a few of whom are unemployed or not nicely educated, need to do issues like that.

BASCOMB: Properly you realize the Congo Basin, the rain forest there, is second solely to the Amazon after all by way of being the most important rainforest on the earth however not like Brazil the Congo basin hasn’t actually seen a complete lot of improvement however what are you seeing on the horizon by way of potential improvement and threats to the integrity of the peatlands?

MONSEMBULA: Logging is nearing the peatlands and agribusiness is rising. And the rising inhabitants will be problematic as a result of it would encourage the event of extra rice crops or palm oil crops within the peatland.

That may be an issue as a result of with a bigger inhabitants if folks can’t make a dwelling, ship their youngsters to high school or go to the hospital they’ll harm the peatland by logging ecologically invaluable bushes to promote the wooden and as soon as they try this the peatland can dry.

BASCOMB: Properly that’s the factor I imply, you realize, right here in the USA and so many different Western nations we developed, we lower down our forests to develop meals, to ship our kids to high school, to do all of the issues that you just’re speaking about that any particular person has these wants, proper. However, after all, the Congo basin now could be sitting on this treasure, this world treasure and we want it to remain intact to take care of our local weather but it surely’s very exhausting I believe for Western cultures to say no no you shouldn’t try this, after we did it ourselves. So how can the Western world, do you suppose, help folks dwelling within the Congo Basin to protect this factor that’s so necessary for all of us however on the similar time help the those who want improvement?

MONSEMBULA: The issue is that we want donors. We’d like western nations who’re creating loads of air pollution to offer some cash for peatland safety. However one other factor is corruption. You understand how dangerous governance is in Central Africa. Like proper now within the DRC we’re listening to about hundreds of thousands of {dollars} going to the Central Africa Forest Initiative, they’re giving some huge cash however while you’re within the discipline you do not see something. There’s now a really huge forest group venture which is funded by worldwide NGOs like Greenpeace, not the DRC authorities. We don’t need folks to donate via the federal government ministry. With the corruption and dangerous governance that cash won’t go to the sphere.

BASCOMB: Raoul Monsembula is the regional coordinator for Greenpeace Africa. Raoul thanks a lot for taking this time with me in the present day.

MONSEMBULA: Thanks for inviting me.

BASCOMB: We need to take a second to thank Oscar Fierro for his assist with the interpretation of this phase and Mark Fabian for doing the voice over.



National Geographic | “Inside the Search for Africa’s Carbon Time Bomb”

Learn more about Greenpeace Africa’s work in the Congo rainforest


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