Net rate of forest loss in Africa second highest in the world
Continent leads the world in forest fires
31 March 2006, Rome/Maputo – The net rate of forest loss in Africa is the second highest in the world, while the continent leads the globe in the frequency of forest fires, FAO told the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission at its meeting this week (29 March – 1 April) in Maputo, Mozambique.
Globally, Africa suffered a net loss of forests exceeding 4 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2005, according to FAO. This was mainly due to conversion of forest lands to agriculture. Forest cover went from 655.6 million hectares (ha) to 635.4 million ha during this period.
South America is the world region with the highest net loss of forests.
Forest fires are another major concern for Africa, the UN agency said. The continent leads the world in forest fires, mainly due to the traditional practice of using fire for conversion of forest to agriculture or grassland. The frequency of fires is particularly high in northern Angola, the southern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Some advances in management, but more to be done
Despite problems, Africa has made strides in terms of improving forest policy and programmes, according to FAO.
More than half of African countries have established new forestry policies and laws over the past 15 years, and two-thirds now have an active national forestry management programme in place.
But implementation and enforcement of these measures remains weak, mainly due to lack of financing and weak national institutions, the UN agency said.
People in Africa depend on forests in a number of ways, and forest resources play an important role in both basic subsistance and poverty alleviation there.
The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission comes together every two years at a meeting organized by FAO.
Information Officer, FAO
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