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Deforestation in Africa

Deforestation in Africa

Deforestation, the permanent removal of trees from an area of forest, is a major concern in Africa.1 The region has the second-fastest rate of deforestation in the world, after Southeast Asia.2 41,000 square kilometres, or 4.1 million hectares, of natural forest in Africa is lost every year.3 This is an area equal to the size of Switzerland.4  

Where does deforestation occur in Africa?

Deforestation occurs in many different African nations.5 It is most prevalent in the continent’s largest tropical forests: the Congo Basin and the Guinean Forests of West Africa.6 Over 90 per cent of Africa’s deforestation is caused by agricultural development.7 Logging and mining industries are also primary culprits, driven by an influx of Chinese loggers and miners.8 

West Africa

Over the past century, West Africa has lost about 90 per cent of its forest coverage.9 Growing international demand for cocoa is leading to further deforestation to make space for plantations.10 In the Ivory Coast, more than 80 per cent of the forests have been converted to cocoa production over the last 50 years.11 As a result, forest cover has reduced from 10.7 per cent to 8.9 per cent of the country’s total land area since 2015.12 

The Congo Basin rainforest

The Congo Basin is the second-largest rainforest in the world, after the Amazon.13 It is known as the ‘second lungs’ of the world, given the carbon dioxide (CO2) it absorbs and the oxygen it produces.14 This immense rainforest spans across six countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.15

It is an incredibly diverse place. For example, more tree species can be found in one hectare of the Congo Basin rainforest than all the UK’s native tree species combined.16 About 10,000 species of plants and endangered animals which aren’t found elsewhere live here.17 

What plant is being used to slow down deforestation in Africa?

How is bamboo useful?

Bamboo is being used to slow down deforestation in Africa.18 It is regenerative, meaning that an entire bamboo plant can be grown from a single small cutting.19 The plant is also one of the fastest-growing on the planet.20 It transforms nutrients to fuel growth incredibly efficiently.21 Finally, it can be used to manufacture flooring, furniture and in construction.22  

What are the limitations of bamboo?

These properties help to make bamboo a sustainable plant that reduces dependence upon timber and other depleted species.23 For instance, in areas where there is a high demand for indigenous trees for building purposes, bamboo can serve as a far more sustainable alternative.24 Also, bamboo itself absorbs CO2, making it useful in the fight against global warming.25 

Nevertheless, bamboo has its limitations in preventing climate change. There are fears of widespread starvation if too many poor Africans begin growing bamboo instead of food crops.26 Ultimately, the existing rainforest must be protected and enhanced to help preserve ecosystems and reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. This should be coupled with a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to prevent a catastrophic rise in temperatures.

Africa has the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world
4.1 million hectares of natural forest in Africa is lost every year
over 90% of Africas deforesation is caused by agricultural development
Deforestation mainly occurs in the congo Basin and the Guinean forests of West Africa
Congo Basin is the second largest rainforest in the world
Bamboo is being used to slow down deforestation in Africa

 

Sources

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  2. Afrik21.africa. (2021). Virtualmin. [online] Available at: https://www.afrik21.africa/en/africa-deforestation-threatens-the-growth-of-the-forest-carbon-market/ [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
  3. Inter Press Service. (2015). Bamboo – An Answer to Deforestation or Not in Africa? [online] Available at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/02/bamboo-an-answer-to-deforestation-or-not-in-africa/ [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
  4. Inter Press Service. (2015). Bamboo – An Answer to Deforestation or Not in Africa? [online] Available at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/02/bamboo-an-answer-to-deforestation-or-not-in-africa/ [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
  5. Green Matters. (n.d.). African Countries That Used Satellite Monitoring Cut Deforestation by 18 Percent. [online] Available at: https://www.greenmatters.com/p/deforestation-drops-18-percent-two-years-africa [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
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  8. Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank. (2018). How Poverty Is Contributing to Deforestation Across Africa. [online] Available at: https://www.chathamhouse.org/2018/12/how-poverty-contributing-deforestation-across-africa.
  9. Welle (www.dw.com), D. (n.d.). African deforestation: “If nothing is done, we may lose everything” | DW | 30.05.2018. [online] DW.COM. Available at: https://www.dw.com/en/african-deforestation-if-nothing-is-done-we-may-lose-everything/a-43924887.
  10. Resource Trade. (n.d.). Cocoa trade, climate change and deforestation. [online] Available at: https://resourcetrade.earth/publications/cocoa-trade-climate-change-and-deforestation#top [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
  11. The Real Price of a Chocolate Bar: West Africa’s Rainforests (2019). The Real Price of a Chocolate Bar: West Africa’s Rainforests. [online] Yale E360. Available at: https://e360.yale.edu/features/the-real-price-of-a-chocolate-bar-west-africas-rainforests.
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  17. Yeung, P. (n.d.). The bold plan to save Africa’s largest forest. [online] www.bbc.com. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210107-congo-basin-a-bold-plan-to-save-africas-largest-rainforest [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
  18. Akwada, D.R. and Akinlabi, E. (2018). Bamboo an alternative wood to reducing tropical deforestation in Ghana. In: ResearchGate. [online] Conference: International Conference on Infrastructure Development and Investment Strategies for Africa. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327230922_-_Bamboo_an_alternative_wood_to_reducing_tropical_deforestation_in_Ghana#:~:text=The%20evolution%20of%20bamboo%20is,in%20environmental%20and%20economic%20issues. [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
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  23. Akwada, D.R. and Akinlabi, E. (2018). Bamboo an alternative wood to reducing tropical deforestation in Ghana. In: ResearchGate. [online] Conference: International Conference on Infrastructure Development and Investment Strategies for Africa. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327230922_-_Bamboo_an_alternative_wood_to_reducing_tropical_deforestation_in_Ghana#:~:text=The%20evolution%20of%20bamboo%20is,in%20environmental%20and%20economic%20issues. [Accessed 1 Feb. 2021].
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  25. Inter Press Service. (2015). Bamboo – An Answer to Deforestation or Not in Africa? [online] Available at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/02/bamboo-an-answer-to-deforestation-or-not-in-africa/.
  26. Inter Press Service. (2015). Bamboo – An Answer to Deforestation or Not in Africa? [online] Available at: http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/02/bamboo-an-answer-to-deforestation-or-not-in-africa/.