Rainforests - Can They Be Saved?
Rainforests—Can They Be Saved?
It’s a wonder to think of this beautiful content
and how much life and history it contains. While
on safari, it’s easy to get a keen sense of
how diverse and beautiful Africa is, even in the
remotest of regions. It’s also a wonder to
think that a crucial part of Africa, if not protected,
will be gone forever, along with some of the most
amazing species of animals, plants and indigenous
are famous for their gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants
and native dwellers like its pygmies. For
centuries, only scattered groups of native hunter-gatherers
and Bantu-speaking subsistence farmers disturbed
the forest realm. Then, in the 19th century, European
loggers and plantation owners moved in. Deforestation
began then and continues today.
What is deforestation?
Deforestation is the clearing of trees and woodlands.
Today, the clearing of trees in the rainforests of
Africa is on the increase. In West Africa, rainforests
are being cleared at 2% a year, and at over 5% a
year in areas of Cote d'Ivoire. In East Africa, rainforests
are being cleared in patterns of previously segmented
plots of land. Obviously wildlife in these areas
is becoming increasingly endangered from the destruction
of its habitat, as well as from constant hunting.
Today, the governments
of rainforest countries are now torn between the
need to protect their endangered rainforests and
the need for the money, roads and jobs that foreign
logging companies bring in. Growing populations,
swollen by war refugees, are razing rainforest
to make way for farmland; poachers are picking
off chimpanzees and gorillas to sell to the profitable
bushmeat trade, and wood from trees is being utilized
Is all hope lost?
Are we to say goodbye to one of the earth’s
most amazing natural habitats? In 1999, the six countries
of the Congo Basin—Cameroon, Central African
Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea—pledged
to harmonize forestry laws and form a joint watchdog
system to track the effects of logging and poaching.
One year later, they took the first step toward putting
that pledge into action: the creation of the tri-national
Sangha Park, a reserve that will cover more than
one million hectares of rainforest in Cameroon, the
Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.
Why is this so important?
There may be some solutions to improve this seemingly
hopeless situation. These include regulating the logging
industry in Africa and enacting and enforcing laws
to protect forests and wildlife preserves. A collective
and dedicated effort by anyone and everyone can make
a change for the better and perhaps preserve the remaining
rainforests in Africa for future generations.
Consider these points:
• The extinction
• Increasing poverty in
already poor populations.
• Degradation of African ecosystems creating major
damage of the food base.
• Increasing global warming and prolonged droughts
in Africa by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide
introduced into the air.
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