East Africa is rich in tropical forests, dense montane forest and includes the eastern portion of the Congo rainforest. These forests are rich in bio-diversity and they are the home of different indigoes tree species like Olea africana, Dombea goetzenii, Acacia, and Bamboo. They also provide habitat for large animals like Bango’, Yellow-backed Duiker, Golden cats, Giant forest hogs, Leopards, Hyenas, Buffalos, Colobus Monkeys and Elephants. The region is known for its great savannas too as shown in picture 1.
However nowadays the forest is decreasing year after year. According to research made by the open access journal PLOS, the East African forest shrank 9.8% between 2001 and 2009. East African countries’ forest is declining year after year due to increasing population. Kenya’s forest cover decreased by 8% between 1981 and 1988. According to PLOS journal, 14% of Kenyan forest will disappear in 20 years.
Causes for deforestation
1. Local Level
Farmers are expanding their agricultural land and enlarging their cultivation area to get more revenue. Most East African local administrations have been involved in distributing land to local farmers without paying attention to environmental issues.
2. National level
The forest departments of East African governments do not give training to their staff to recognize the role of local knowledge in forest preservation. Decision-makers are only giving land to local farmers in order to get political benefit and some protected areas are destroyed for the sake of economic gain.
3. Global level
In the developed world, industries and consumers promote the export of food from East Africa mainly in raw form for processing. The business motivated models imposed by international institutions like the World Bank have encouraged serious exploitation of forest land.
What could be done to prevent East African deforestation?
The governments of East African countries must promote conservation of forest in a sustainable way. The citizens should be encouraged to plant at least five trees per year. Local people should participate in formulation of forest management policies. Harsh penalties should be applied to those who destroy the forest in an unsustainable way. However, there is still this problem of how to feed the population and maintain the forest at the same time. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.
SourcesEast African forest. 2012. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:450729/FULLTEXT01.pdf
National science foundation. August,20011. http://www.nsf.gov)
PLOS Journal. July 31, 2012.