Togo, Nigeria and Ghana have the highest rates of deforestation out of 65 nations, according to a study released today which surveyed a total of 1.66 billion hectares of tropical forest around the world.
From 2005-2010, Togo lost on an average a staggering 5.75 percent of its forests a year according to the report. Close behind were Nigeria with a 4 percent loss rate, and Ghana which lost 2.19 percent of forest a year.
The report was published by the wood products trade group, the International Tropical Timber Organisation in Yokohama, Japan is described by its authors as the most comprehensive analysis of tropical forests to date (Download the full report)
Of the total area surveyed, 761 million hectares constitute the “permanent forest estate,” meaning it has some form of legal designation. That includes both jungles set aside for national parks, and land earmarked for use by the timber industry, estimated by the report to be worth about $20 billion a year.
However, while the land may have legal designation, the laws aren’t always enforced, and just 53.3 million hectares – about 3 percent of the total forest – is managed “sustainably,” according to the study. Of that, 30.6 million hectares is set aside for forest industries, and 22.7 million hectares is protected.
Whilst this is an improvement (in 1986 there was less than a million hectares of protected forest) there is still a considerable way to go if these forests are to be saved.
Action needed today
Duncan Poore, a former professor at the University of Oxford and an author of the report worries for the future of the countries worst affected by deforestation if no action is taken:
“In Togo, I don’t think any forest will be left. We must work with forest departments and governments and local communities to impress upon them that sustainable forest management is in all their best interests.”
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