Historically, the forest has been a source of heat, food and medicinal products and provides timber for construction and other purposes. On the other hand, its role in supporting agricultural activities, preserving biodiversity, protecting sources of water supply and reducing the impact of climate change is less well known. The United Nations estimated that by the year 2000, some 1.6 billion people worldwide, including many in the poorest regions, derive at least a portion of their food, income and medical needs. directly from the forest. Of these, about 70 million indigenous people depend almost entirely on the forest for subsistence.
Poor people in rural areas of the continent are particularly dependent on it. Although forest products, mainly raw wood, account for only about 2% of sub-Saharan Africa’s exports, forests account for an average of 6% of the region’s gross domestic production, which is three times the world average. . Eighteen African countries, including Cameroon and Ghana, are among the 24 countries whose economies depend on 10% or more of their forests.
Despite the warnings of environmentalists and environmental groups against unsustainable and often illegal logging in West and Central Africa, about half of the wood extracted from African forests is used as fuel by farmers. inhabitants. Despite huge losses from deforestation, the region is a net importer of finished wood products.
It is normal for indigenous forests to be seen as a source of unused land and as a safety net when things go wrong, says Africa Renewal Christian Lambrechts, UNEP’s forestry expert. “People rely on the forest for things they can not afford to buy at the market,” he says.
This exploitation of “subsistence” forests is inevitable in areas of extreme poverty and has no harmful effect when it is exercised in a sustainable manner, he says. On the other hand, when people are forced to go in large numbers to collect food and fuel, “this has consequences for the destruction of the forest.” East Africa is home to some of the world’s most diverse forests, some of the highest and oldest mountains in Africa.
Like many forest areas around the world, they are increasingly threatened by agricultural expansion and deforestation for firewood and timber.
Although regional authorities, governments, NGOs and international organizations are working hard to protect these forests, there is still a need to develop effective strategies to monitor the ecological, environmental and social aspects of these forests.
To meet these challenges, experts from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are currently working with the Regional Center for Mapping Resources for Development and the French Center for Agricultural Research for International Development (CIRAD) to lay the foundations for a new regional observatory in East Africa. Throughout the year, scientists will conduct a comprehensive study to collect forest data and assess the state of forests, REDD activities, institutional systems and monitoring capabilities in four East African countries ( Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda). This new project will draw on the experience of the Observatory of Central African Forests (OFAC