Conservationists and scientists agree that the most serious short-term threats to western gorillas in this region are poaching and disease epidemics. In the longer term, habitat loss and disturbance will become as serious a threat as hunting and disease.

Many of the communities that inhabit the region rely on the forests and its wildlife for their livelihoods. The rich abundance of animals and plants that are found in the area constitute an essential source of food and shelter for the region’s population, as well as playing an important spiritual and cultural role for hunter-gatherer societies.

The region’s natural resources are also extremely important for the development of the national economies of the region, particularly crude oil, timber and minerals. On a global scale, the forests of the Congo basin provide essential ecosystem services, such as watershed conservation, climate regulation and carbon sequestration.