Participants of Africa’s maiden top-level global forest conference held in Accra on Tuesday and Wednesday have called on African governments to reverse the worrying trend of deforestation on the continent.
At the Tropical Forests Alliance (TFA) 2020 General Assembly held on May and May 16 at the Kempinski Hotel, it was revealed that between 2010 and 2015, Africa recorded the highest net annual loss of forests.
Statistics attributed to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations revealed that Africa lost 2.8 million hectares of forest every year, equivalent to the size of Guinea Bissau, or nearly the size of Belgium.
Speaking after the conference, Director of the Tropical Forest Alliance for 2020, Marco Albani, told journalists, an important recommendation for Ghana would be for the government to invest in agro-forestry, which involves the incorporation of trees cultivation in the agricultural process.
He said although economic development was critical, decision-makers in the in agro-industry and allied sectors must not lose sight of the importance of the environmental sustainability.
It was revealed further at the conference of top government officials and forest actors that between 1990 and 2008, deforestation in Sub-Saharan Africa represented an estimated 31% of global forest loss.
Also, up to 90% of West Africa’s coastal rainforest has been felled already, and the rate of deforestation in the Congo Basin has doubled in the past 25 years.
Drivers of deforestation
Agriculture, including small-scale subsistence farming and large-scale commodity agriculture production, especially palm oil, cocoa rubber, and sugar have been identified as contributing significantly to deforestation.
It is projected that by 2030 15% of current production forests in Africa are likely to be converted for agricultural use.
Industrial logging and clearing for charcoal and fuel-wood as well as urban expansion and construction of major infrastructure projects, such as roads and dams, were also mentioned as contributing to the loss of forest cover.
The estimated eight million workers employed in artisanal and small-scale mining across Africa were also fingered as among the drivers of deforestation on the continent.