In a world in which the interconnectivity between one country to another is intensifying as a direct result of ever-increasing modes of communication, the internationalization of group activities appears as a natural law.
In the wilderness, these communications can be, at the present time, of two kinds. First, there is the exchange of products. The consumption of forest products, for example, is extremely uneven from one country to another, and the same is true of the quality of the products. Consequently, the uses to which they lend themselves are no less variable from one region of the globe to another. Everything indicates that, both in the short and long term, the demand for forest products will increase, and in particular on the African continent.
Deforestation in Africa
Deforestation of Africa’s forests for the exchange, and use of, forest products remains a threat to both local African populations and to our entire planet. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), indigenous “old-growth” forests in Africa are being cut down at a rate of more than 4 mn hectares per year amounting to double the world’s deforestation average. According to the FAO, Africa lost more than 10 per cent of the continent’s forest cover between 1980 and 1995.
Saving Africa’s forests from human destruction is critical to the survival and productivity of most of the African continent’s economy. This is because forests act as a defense against soil erosion and a regulator of local weather conditions. Without a stable climate and steady land to live on, a thriving economy is not achievable.
But the destruction of African forests does not just have local influence, our planet’s overall global warming is directly impacted. Trees are one of the world’s largest living warehouses of carbon monoxide, the “greenhouse gas” most accountable for the earth’s temperature increase. Protecting Africa’s tropical forests and planting new replacement trees could help reduce the harshness of climate change by absorbing more carbon from the air.
Forests and African people
Many Africa’s rely heavily upon the collection of wood for heating and cooking and for making charcoal. Wood supplies about 70 per cent of domestic energy needs because a large portion of the continent is still “off-grid” – this reliance upon wood for energy is significantly higher than in the rest of the world. African forests generate an average of 6 per cent of the continent’s GDP which is three times the world average. Some 18 African countries are among the 24 countries worldwide that depend on their forests for 10 per cent or more of their economies.
The conversion of forest land to agriculture, both for subsistence and for commercial purposes, is definitely the most common and damaging cause of deforestation in Africa. As populations pressures grow, the demand for farmland increases and millions of hectares of tropical forests are being destroyed in Africa.
Empowers Africa, a U.S. Public Charity, is playing an integral role in making sure that Africa humanity can preserve its forests. The organization offers funding for:
- Rural communities that live in close proximity to protected conservation and wildlife areas to improve “forest-friendly” small business development
- Providing solar energy to move away from wood-based energy
- Habitat expansion for species in forest areas
- Indigenous plant removal
Since 2013, they have granted close to nine million dollars to over 60 organizations in 15 countries, including reforestation projects in both Uganda and Rwanda, indigenous plant removal from vast areas in South Africa, and much more. Empowers Africa feels it is their duty to provide alternatives to de-forestation in order to protect both local populations and the planet at large.