Central African forests are poorly studied but represent an important component in the global greenhouse gas balance. As part of the European YPS project (Yangambi, pôle scientifique au service de l'homme et des forêts), which is financed by DGD (Directorate General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid) Belgium, Ghent University is scientifically responsible to set up the very first eddy covariance flux tower in the tropical forest of the Congo Basin in Man and Biosphere reserve of Yangambi (Democratic Republic of Congo). Once fully operational, the CongoFlux-site will deliver the first accurate and continuous data of atmosphere-ecosystem exchange of greenhouse gasses including CO2, N2O, CH4 and H2O of the Congo Basin forest.
In order to measure those fluxes, a so called flux tower has been installed in the middle of the Congo Basin forest. On top of this 55m high tower, which reaches 15m above the canopy (See Fig. 1), the concentrations of the different GHGs (CO2, H2O, N2O and CH4) are measured at 15 Hz, along with the windspeed and –direction. These measurements are subsequently used to calculate the net CO2, H2O, N2O and CH4 exchange between the ecosystem and the atmosphere. Flows are averaged over 30 minute periods and provide a continuous time series. The turbulence covariance technique integrates flows from a larger area, thus representing CO2 dynamics at the ecosystem level. The source area varies continuously with atmospheric stability, wind speed and direction.
Further, the CongoFlux-site will also be used to provide qualitative and continuous meteorological data of the site, collect ancillary data such as site characterisation, species composition, mortality, LAI, trait and soil data of several plots within the footprint of the flux tower. Margin for additional research will also be provided allowing potential future scientific collaborations.
The implementation of this tower is essential for monitoring the REDD + process in the Congo Basin countries and will be a world scientific first. The coordination of the project will be carried out jointly by ERAIFT and CIFOR on the concept of a coordination platform. The scientific coordination platform will ensure uninterrupted and unrestricted access to research data from all over the world and allow wide dissemination of this data. CIFOR joins the skills of Resources & Synergies Development (R&SD), a group of consulting firms specializing in project management, partner of CIFOR in the DRC since 2011 for other projects funded by the European Union. Finally, the University of Ghent, initiator of the project will be the university partner in charge of the activities linked to the installation and operation of the flux tower.