Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Bangassou Forest

Central African Republic
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The Bangassou Forest is a mosaic of lowland rain forest and secondary grasslands in southeastern Central African Republic covering an estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million hectares. This region is very isolated; little is known about its forests and there has been no commercial exploitation of the forest products in this area. While this is not a protected area, there has been oversight from the regional Office of Water and Forests and a community conservation project. The Bangassou Forest is an area with high biodiversity and a wide range of habitats.

Only about 20 000 people live in the forest itself; however, the city of Bangassou has a population of over 24 000. The growth of Bangassou and the apparently increasing gaps in the forest canopy between 1975 and 2006 (light coloured areas, particularly between Zipo and Madamboya) suggest that pressure on the forest may be increasing.

The Bangassou Forest is one of only two areas in Central African Republic where elephants still live. Estimates of the elephant population have declined from 2 640 in 1989 and 1 600 in 1995 to perhaps as few as 500 to 1 000 in 2004. This is widely believed to be the result of poaching which appears unlikely to decrease under current circumstances.
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