Congo Basin rainforest protected by treaty

The world’s second-largest rainforest, spanning 10 countries in the Congo Basin of Africa and disappearing at a rate of some 3.7 million acres a year, is now a wee bit safer. This weekend, leaders of seven central African nations signed a treaty aimed at slowing the widespread illegal logging, poaching, ivory trafficking, and bushmeat trade that are rapidly destroying the forest. The treaty will standardize logging rules in the region, make tracking border-crossing poachers easier, and step up patrols for illegal logging. But the project, in the works since 1999, remains woefully underfunded. The projected budget for the effort was to be 40 percent funded by Congo Basin countries, with the remainder coming from international aid. But so far, only France and the U.S. have contributed. Conservationists, of course, applauded the treaty, since funded or not, it’s a high-profile admission that the region has an illegal logging problem.