Deforestation - causes and effects
Forest areas, or farmland with large numbers of trees, offer many benefits to people and the environment. At a global level, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, helping to control the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and prevent global warming. And at a local level, forest areas trap cool, moist air near to the ground, thereby reducing temperatures and protecting people, crops and animals from excessive heat. But despite these and other benefits, in Kenya, uncontrolled felling of trees continues, including from protected areas. In response, the Kenyan government aims to achieve 30 per cent tree cover by 2030 through support for tree planting.
Every year, around 4 million hectares of forest in Africa are burned or felled - an area roughly twice the size of Rwanda. Rates of deforestation vary between countries, but in some parts of East Africa there are now large areas with very few trees at all. In Kenya, for example, it is estimated that only two per cent of the land surface is now under forest cover.
This loss of trees is well recognised as one of Africa’s most serious environmental problems, contributing to land degradation and loss of wildlife. But African forests have also been a vital component in global weather systems, absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and regulating temperature and water cycles. Pius Sawa now reports on the importance of tree cover in Africa, and what is being done in Kenya, to address the problem of deforestation.
Isabella Masinde, an advisor to the Kenyan Ministry of Environment, on support for tree planting as part of a national strategy to address deforestation. The report was compiled by Pius Sawa and is supported by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network.
Making the most of it:
If you have a National Tree Planting Day in your country, you may have featured tree planting projects done by local schools or communities. Why not (re)visit a project to see how effective it has been? Have the trees survived; are they growing well? If not, why is this and what is needed to ensure tree planting has long term benefits?
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Fish & forests