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Monday, August 4, 2008

Africa's Congo Basin forest aided by satellite tree-felling survey

A project to map every place in the world's second-largest tropical forest where trees have been cut down will be announced today.

A purpose-built camera will be sent into space to record every clearing and logger's track in the Congo Basin in Africa to determine how much of the forest is left.

The camera will be fixed to a satellite and should be operational by the end of 2010 as part of an initiative to save the Central African tropical forest from being chopped down.

At twice the size of France, the Congo Basin forest is exceeded in extent only by the Amazon but it is estimated that loggers, many of them illegal, destroy an area the size of 25,000 football pitches every week.

Forests absorb huge quantities of carbon but it is released when they are cut down and their preservation is regarded as one of the biggest challenges by those trying to slow the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.

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