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Congo Basin peatlands and climate threatened by oil extraction, June 23, 2023

Dear members of the Religious Sector of LSAP,
Conservation of the ecosystem and the reduction of CO2 emissions are key to the management of global warming. In the Congo Basin peatlands of DRC the government has called for companies to exploit the oil blocks which is a threat to the people and the planet. Brother Franco Torres, Cmf from DRC keeping seeking the support of the people and organizations to safeguard the peatland. 

In the central basin of the Congo Basin lies the world's largest tropical peatland complex. Since 2017, a group of scientists from 19 universities have been mapping and studying the characteristics of these peatlands . Their research shows that the peatlands of the Congo Basin cover 16.7 million hectares of forest and store between 26 and 32 billion tonnes of CO2 (the equivalent of three years of global emissions) .

"The carbon stored in peat is equivalent to the carbon stored in all the trees in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo combined, although peat covers only 6% of both countries. Furthermore, "the swamp forests that overlie the peat are among the richest in the world in terms of wildlife. The main populations of forest elephants, lowland gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, Allen's swamp monkeys and African dwarf crocodiles" .

Two thirds of this peatland complex is located in the DRC. However, on 29 July 2022 the Congolese government launched calls for the right to exploit 27 oil blocks, 9 of which are located in the central basin, 3 of which directly affect the peatlands. Comparing maps of the oil blocks and peatlands, studies show that 11 million hectares of forest are threatened by exploitation.

Studies of the impact of oil extraction on peatlands in other tropical regions (the Sumatra Basin in Indonesia, the Niger Delta in Nigeria and the Putumayo-Oriente Marañón Basin in Peru-Ecuador-Colombia) state that "documented environmental impacts include deforestation and habitat loss associated with oil exploration and development, as well as contamination from oil and produced water (well brine) spills" .

Furthermore, "oil exploration opens up new access routes to forests and peatlands, which generally leads to ecosystem degradation and deforestation through hunting, logging and agricultural expansion, whether or not oil is found. - There are 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon in the peat within three oil blocks. If the carbon in the peat were released into the atmosphere, peatland oil would be one of the most carbon-intensive oils ever produced .

I request you to think on how to be collaborative with the Faith Based Organizations and NGOs to safeguard the peatlands.

(S. Vincent Anesthasiar,CMF)

UNEP, Carbon, biodiversity and land-use in the Central Congo Basin Peatlands

Des articles à ce sujet publiés dans le magazine Nature peuvent être consultés en ligne. Par exemple : ;

UNEP, ibid ; Lawson et al ; Simon and the CongoPeat consortiume, A briefing from the CongoPeat international team of scientists :

Lawson et al. The vulnerability of tropical peatlands to oil and gas exploration and extraction disponible en ligne

Simon and the CongoPeat consortiume, A briefing from the CongoPeat international team of scientists

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