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Friday, 9 October 2009

Deforestation in West Africa will affect rural communities

Deforestation is the result of an economy which thinks of the short term solution. The search for fossil fuels, more productive grazing lands for livestock, and land to grow crops in order to serve the needs of the money makers are a few of the reasons why forests are destroyed.

With the increasing debate on climate change and global warming, and the ever growing emphasis on the need for change, schemes are being put forward in order conserve these natural environments in order to curb the negative effects of the ruling societies’ short term goals. However it is impossible to do this on a global scale and there are stories popping up all over the place on how, unfortunately, deforestation is continuing to thrive.

West Africa is an example of this. Little news comes out of this region of Africa to the ears of the Western masses and therefore less attention is paid to the events taking place.

According to the Ghana News Agency, “the continuing erosion of forests in West Africa has been identified as putting pressure on the region's biodiversity, which is home to more than a quarter of Africa's mammals and 1,800 endemic species of plants “.

M. Michael Jenkins, President of the The Katoomba Group, an international forestry conservation oriented non-governmental organisation, called for the development of the needed technical expertise in the region to combat the problem;
“It is pathetic to also note that only 17 per cent of the region's forests are technically under some form of protection, while only three per cent of is conserved for biodiversity purposes"

We hear about the effect that deforestation has on the biodiversity of a region almost on a weekly basis in the news. However we must also realise that the communities living in these regions are also affected. Rural communities live on the resources that their surrounding environment provides , and a lack of these resources will push them either to search for these further afield, or, in extreme cases will prompt these communities to migrate to towns where they can make the money to be able to buy the items they need to survive This can split communities and threaten their cultural and social heritage.

Responsible Tourism can be used as a tool to combat this situation by suggesting a form of rural community economy boosting and at the same time put an emphasis on the Natural, Cultural and Social (NCS) heritages of the destination. Furthermore, Responsible Tourism works hand in hand with sustainable development and suggests ways in which sustainable living practices can be implemented into day to day community life.

I am not saying that Responsible Tourism can solely help to stop deforestation; however it can help increase awareness towards these kinds of issues to tourists who can raise these concerns in their own societies. It can also be a tool to boost community projects and provide a sustainable economy to these communities affected by deforestation.

To view the article which prompted me to write this, click here.

To visit the West Africa Discovery website, click here.

Email me at Thomas@westafricadiscovery.co.uk

1 comment:

davidarmitt said...

The natural environment changes over time, with or without man's
intervention. The climate alters landscapes. Watercourses and seas
change location and form. Species become extinct and are replaced by
more appropriate versions. So arguments for conservation and sustainability must not fall into the trap of trying to freeze time - because if they do they will fail being an anathema for both nature and an ambitious mankind.

Unfortunately the word sustainability', like the word 'justice' has no absolute terms of reference. So someone has to decide where to draw the line.

Developing, funding and implementing rigorous policing of the crimes of
polluting or abusively exploiting the world's environments - whether exploitation is the result of commercial greed or justified as national need - becomes a determining precursor to effective control; and
interpol could offer an initial template for such a policing

In the light of the potential biological and social damage that a 5°C
global temperature increase could provoke, the United Nations should
now agree to consider unsustainable deforestation, reckless pollution
of the seas and air and similar environmental crimes against nature and
society, as environmental genocide, to be condemned and sanctioned with
the same political commitment as genocide resulting from internecine
ethnic conflicts.
There will still be criminals, but perhaps we could prevent a crisis
ridden future where some nations are forced into further conflict, as
food and clean water become increasingly scarce.