Preventing Tropical Deforestation

Tropical forests are an integral component of the global climate system, serving as massive terrestrial storehouses of carbon, cycling water, and serving as a home to rural communities and a vast diversity of species. WHRC scientists work in key tropical regions studying sustainable agriculture techniques and piloting green economic development strategies that prevent deforestation.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

WHRC’s Projet Equateur aims to prevent deforestation in the Congo Basin by working with community leaders to implement forest-friendly economic opportunities.  We train leaders on agroforestry, agricultural production and marketing techniques, high-efficiency charcoal production, and end-user technologies, such as fuel-efficient stoves.  Named after the DRC province where the project is located, Projet Equateur aims to regenerate forests, improve livelihoods and promote economic development in the DRC.

Rwanda_potatofarmersVillagers plant potatoes in a field near Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

Brazilian Amazon

Our Amazon team is at the forefront of understanding how deforestation and forest degradation is impacting the regional and global climate and threatening the viability of agriculture. Much of this work takes place at Tanguro Ranch, a 200,000 acre working farm in Mato Grosso State. Our scientists collaborate with local partners to reduce deforestation and its environmental consequences, while allowing for continued economic growth. Twelve hundred miles away in the state of Acre, flooding and forest fires are impacting everyday life. There, WHRC scientists assist government leaders in developing strategies for adaptation and resilience to extreme environmental events.

TanguroRanchA crop field at Tanguro Ranch.


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Agriculture is expanding rapidly into tropical forests and savannas in response to global demands for food and fuel. Pressures to conserve remaining forest and reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation are increasing.
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After the Amazon, the Congo Basin comprises the second largest forest on Earth. International agriculture and mining interests, charcoal production, subsistence farming, and the bush meat trade all threaten increasingly larger swaths of virgin forest.
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Global warming is driven by the increase in concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due primarily to fossil fuel combustion. Changes in land use, such as deforestation for agriculture, represent a smaller fraction.
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Climate change is altering natural ecosystems by transforming landscapes, and changing animal and plant species distribution and biodiversity. These changes reflect a shift in terrestrial carbon.
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It is estimated that the forests of the world contain 450 billion tons of carbon, an amount equal to 45 years of fossil fuel combustion at the current rate. Each year, 1 billion tons of this carbon is released into the atmosphere through deforestation.
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