More than just for carbon sinks, there are many benefits derived from the forest. However, with the changing climate and anthropogenic components it is becoming quite obvious that the forests are in a ‘critical condition’.
Ten thousand years ago, there were 6 billion hectares of forest on the globe. Today, only 3.8 billion hectares are left, which represent about 63% of the original forest cover. Most of the forests were converted into agriculture land and also cleared for roads, buildings, etc.
Africa in particular is set to loss an even greater percentage of its original forest due to the continued destruction of nature’s gift.
There is therefore a great need to understand the issues plaguing the forests as well as share knowledge with experts across the continent on ways to stop loss of African forestry as well as how to restore the losses.
This was the point of this year’s regional workshop organized by The African Forest Forum (AFF) of which a member of FADE was represented.
So to address the question posed by the topic, the simple answer is in Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).
Put simply, SFM is the management of forests using the principles of sustainable development. The point is to manage and use the forests in a way that maintains their ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, in a way that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.
The successful management of forests benefits everyone, ranging from safeguarding local livelihoods to protecting the biodiversity and ecosystems provided by forests, reducing rural poverty and mitigating some of the effects of climate change.
Increasing human population is putting undue pressure on the forests for agricultural lands, fuel such as charcoal, firewood etc and fibre.
While it is important to preach the message of tree planting, it is important to broaden the message with regards the reasons why local famers should preserve and plant trees. This means it is not enough to talk about the timber and carbon purposes of trees when many more benefits abound like food, shelter, cooling of the earth and more.
There is also the need to invest in the study of the state and future of quality tree germ plasm for Africa.
At the moment, there is insufficient data available on the state of tree and forest pests and diseases in parts of Africa but this should be addressed as proper understanding of the issues can prevent losses of economically viable trees. It will also lead to better trends in germ plasm and tree improvement that will be more resistant to harmful pests and diseases.