May 26, 2009
Deforestation In Africa Faster Than World’s Average
A report says that Africa's forests are disappearing faster than those in other parts of the world due to lack of land ownership.
The Rights and Resources Initiative says that not even 2% of Africa's forests are under community control, compared to a third of Latin American and Asian forests.The rate of deforestation in Africa is four times the world's average rate.
The current rate shows it will take Congo Basin countries 260 years to reach the level of reform achieved in the Amazon.
The report says that taking action might help to halt deforestation, slow climate change and alleviate poverty.
During the study, the authors of the report compared the distribution of land ownership in 39 tropical countries, representing 96% of global tropical forests.
They found that Africans have less control over the forests they inhabit than people of other tropical regions.
There have been many countries introducing laws that strengthen land rights, including Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Sudan and Tanzania.
However, the report says that these nationals need to "quickly scale up" the process.
"Recognizing local land rights alone doesn't solve all the problems," said Andy White, coordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative.
"Governments need to follow up by supporting local management and enterprises.
"There are some countries that have recognized local land rights, but the government recognized controls the forest, and hands out concessions to industrial loggers - leading to more degradation and corruption."
The authors say that failure to ensure land rights for indigenous peoples, particularly women, will impede efforts to stop deforestation and mitigate climate change.
Land clearing for agriculture, along with logging and other extractive industries, account for about one third of some countries' total carbon emissions.
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