Today marks the World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD). The 2012 Global Observance event will be held at the Rio Conventions Pavilion, Brazil, and is entitled ‘Securing Healthy Soils and Stopping Land Degradation: Outcomes for Rio+20’. The event aims to raise awareness of the issue of land degradation and the implications it is having on the future of our planet.
Around the world, deforestation and forest degradation accounts for about 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. It also threatens biodiversity and exacerbates a cycle of poverty for those who depend on forest resources for their livelihoods.
It is no secret that deforestation in Africa is a growing issue with substantial effects on natural systems and human populations.
Ninety years ago today, a government forester with the Colonial Office named Richard St. Barbe Baker (St. Barbe) held the inaugural ‘Dance of the Trees’ with the Kikuyu tribesmen, in celebration of their first tree planting event recognising the importance of trees in our world.
For many years I have extolled the importance of our islands ancient trees and suggested that the UK’s single greatest obligation to European biodiversity is the recognition and conservation of our old trees. I add that because of their immense value to biodiversity. They are in fact Europe’s very own rainforest.
A traditional and long-held view holds that the best way to conserve forests is to lock them away in protected areas. However, the results of a new study have added to a growing challenge of this approach suggesting that tropical forests designated as strictly protected areas have annual deforestation rates much higher than those managed by local communities.
Ghana has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world and this sustained tree loss has resulted in severe desertification. This loss of fertile land has worrying implications for the livelihoods of people living in these districts but there is also hope that the trend can be reversed after women in northwest Ghana have successfully regenerated about 1,000 acres of barren land for agriculture and other purposes.