• Danger zone

    Danger zone

    Nestled between the Republic of Congo and DRC lies a remote swampland touted as the world’s largest tropical peatland.

    A team of Congolese and British scientists that have been mapping the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo basin recently made a startling discovery in the form of 30 billion tons of CO2. That’s roughly equivalent to three years of the world’s total fossil fuel emissions, which could be released into the atmosphere if not properly protected.

    So far, the peatlands appear undisturbed with very little evidence of development or farming in the area, according to a Quartz Africa report. Simon Lewis, a scientist from the University of Leeds, explains that the peatlands, which cover 145 500 km² – an area larger than the size of England – acts as a natural carbon sink by pulling carbon from the atmosphere. Therefore, if it were to dry out, the resulting decomposition of the swamp’s plants would release all the COinto the air.

    24 January 2017
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images