The sustainable use of the forest is one of the key issues relating to environmental protection on the African continent. Forest reserves and greenery are also threatened by the excessive and chaotic use of wood and forest resources and unfortunately in Africa, the forest continues to dwindle. There are however measures against deforestation and sustainably managed forests are being given labels. Broad overview…
Unmistakably, the World Forestry Congress affirms that the planet has lost 129 million hectares of forest cover in the past 25 years, in other words, the equivalent of the land area of South Africa, and the African continent is far from being spared. Organised every six years by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, this Congress was held for the first time on African soil in Durban, in September 2015. It was reiterated at the Congress that four African countries are among the ten countries where deforestation is the highest in the world: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau as well as the Congo Basin area [Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic (RCA), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)] In DRC, which has the largest forests in Africa, the absence of regulations has heightened the illegal felling of endangered species such as Wengé wood.
With the boost in the cultivation of oil palm and rubber, the whole of Africa is experiencing an increase in deforestation, the Greenpeace association emphasized in its report published this Tuesday, 23rd February. «We are currently witnessing a real mad dash on African forests» the NGO indicated in the 28 page document, because «investments in Africa are increasing, attracted by ideal climatic conditions and particularly non restrictive regulations which are not enforced or which are specifically favourable to foreign investment. »
Accra, Ghana’s capital city, will soon host the « Forests for the Future – New Forests for Africa» conference from 16 to 18 March 2016, and participating will be the former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan. The aim will be to arrive at recommendations in terms of good reforestation practices as well as source funding.
Fortunately, as a result of the work of environmental NGOs and consumer associations, major agro-food companies are increasingly obliged to adhere to the principle of « zero deforestation», particularly in respect of their production of key agricultural commodities (palm oil, cocoa, soya). These commodities are responsible for about 70% of global deforestation. More than 80% of deforested land worldwide is used for agricultural purposes. Industrial agriculture accounts for one third of Africa’s deforestation.
In addition to their commitment to « zero deforestation » major companies seeking to improve their reputation are adhering to the expectations of the REDD programme of the United Nations (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or Réduction des émissions liées à la déforestation et la dégradation des forêts in French). Established in 2008, this programme (and the ensuing REDD+) is aimed at compensating for the loss of revenue to developing countries as a result of reforestation activities.
Cote d’Ivoire is also trying to put in place a national REDD+ strategy with a focus on decoupling agricultural development and deforestation. They will initially put in place, on a pilot basis, measures for the « payment of environmental services», in other words, positive action towards the preservation of the ecosystem. For example measures relating to water management, preservation of forests, biodiversity and the countryside…
The concept of «zero deforestation» is however ambiguous and its implementation, difficult. In addition, it is difficult to obtain funding for it. We must however, hope that these initiatives are only the beginning and reflective of a growing awareness.
For more information on:
The Conference Video Presentation Forests for the Future, New forests for Africa!