Tree loss in one of the world’s largest rainforests has slowed, a study suggests.
Satellite images of Africa’s Congo Basin reveal that deforestation has fallen by about a third since 2000.
Researchers believe this is partly because of a focus on mining and oil rather than commercial agriculture, where swathes of forest are cleared.
The work is published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
It is part of a series that is examining the state of Africa’s forests.
Dr Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds and University College London, said: “Most of the focus has been on the Amazon and on South East Asian tropical rainforests, and a big bit of the missing picture is what is going on the Congo Basin in Central Africa.
“We really wanted to pull together information about this amazing region that we know very little about.”
Sprawling across the heart of Africa, the Congo Basin rainforest is second only to the Amazon in size. It covers nearly 2 million sq km (800,000 sq miles).
This latest study reveals that it is in far better health than expected.
Images taken from space allowed researchers to track how the dense foliage was changing over time.