8 June 2007: Woods Hole Research Center scientists are using satellite imagery taken from 1976 to 2003 to study the development of industrial logging and road density in Central Africa. They analysed four million square kilometres of the region, using over 300 Landsat satellite images.
Researchers mapped nearly 52,000 km of logging roads within the forested region, which includes Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo. The report highlights the rapid expansion of the logging frontier in the Congo Basin. In Central Africa as a whole, 600,000 square kilometers of forest — 30 per cent — has been conceded for logging, whereas only 12 per cent is protected.
Prior to this work, there were few reliable data sets available to monitor both legal and illegal logging. This study provides the first synoptic view of industrial logging in Central Africa, enabling conservation agencies, government agencies, scientists, industry officials, and others to better gauge how the expansion of logging is impacting the forest and its inhabitants, and how better planning might mitigate damage.