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The DRC's wealth of natural resources provides unique opportunities for socio-economic development
Covering more than 150 million hectares, the forests of the DRC represent 60% of the entire Congo Basin forests. They are essential for the survival of a significant portion of the population and play a critical role in regulating the global climate. In addition, timber exploitation has a significant economic potential for the country.
The DRC forests face many threats: poaching, fuelwood collection, industrial logging, artisanal and illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture, mining, and infrastructure building.
The legal basis and foundation for both industrial and artisanal logging is the most important and urgent issue in the forestry sector in the DRC.
The legality issue has prevented the establishment and the success of independent certification processes and schemes supported by WWF since 2010 and represents one of the main challenges to the achievement of our zero net deforestation goal. However, the new REDD+ national strategy and international mechanisms bring some hope of developing a virtuous cycle of investment where the private sector, government and communities could be rewarded for sustainable management.
The country has the largest irrigation potential in Africa with about 7 million ha of irrigable land and significant potential for agriculture with some 80 million ha of cultivable land.
Currently sustaining 70% of our population, the agricultural sector can contribute to national food security through sustainable practices, responsible investments and sound land use planning. Yet only about 5% of this cultivable area is exploited to date. According to the WWF Africa Ecological Futures (2014) analysis, the DRC has impressive agricultural opportunities but, at the same time, runs major risks in exploiting this untapped potential. Major forests and scrubland zones are at risk as areas under cultivation are expanding.