The Central African forests, the planet's second largest rainforest block, are key to global environmental health. They influence climate change through their crucial role in carbon sinking and storage, affect weather patterns across Africa, and safeguard unique species and biodiverse communities. Their fate is important to everyone, not just today's inhabitants. The forests cover seven countries, and the differing socioeconomic histories and trajectories of these nations determine divergent fates for people, trees, and wildlife across the region. We review current knowledge of how the Central African forests have been shaped by climate and human activity within the region and assess how they may evolve under future climate change, population growth, and the Anthropocene race for wealth and energy. We highlight three different environmental trajectories for the countries of the region, identify key current regional issues that have an international dimension, and highlight five new points of future concern.


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