African Deforestation: A Problem, Not a Crisis Eric French Jessica Pittman Courtney Bonney
Crisis Defined: Grave Threat to Population Severely Limited Response Time Solutions Are Uncertain
Argument Deforestation in Africa is a problem but not a crisis, because: Response time is not severely limited Other regions have addressed the problem without urgency Not a grave threat to a population Narrative suggesting such a threat uses flawed data Deforestation counteracts socioeconomic crises There are some problem areas but also some success stories Feasible solutions exist Some local conservation efforts have worked Soil fertility could be improved Kuznets could save the day Innovations could save the day Inadequate institutions are to blame
Similar deforestation experiences US has 1% of it’s original forest, not a crisis, a problem that we overcame with secondary growth forest. LatinAmerica is experiencing similar deforestation, yet NGO’s have focused attention on them and decreased deforestation rates.
World Resources Institute: Forest Frontier Regions (1987)
Frontier forestsLarge intact forests with high levels of biodiversity; Old growth forests which are under threat to development.
Low-threat potentially vulnerable frontier forests: Those forests not now considered under enough pressure to degrade ecosystems.
Non-frontier forests: Secondary forests, plantations, degraded forest, and some old-growth forests. This category still includes a great deal of biodiversity but is open to human influence. Conservation is key to the maintenance of these forests.
Original forest: Forest cover about 8,000 years ago, before human impact.
North & Central America
Original Forest: 12.7 million square km.
Frontier forest in Central America makes up only 10% of original forest cover.
In the lower 48 States, only 1% of original forest remains as forest frontier.
84% of North America's threatened frontier forests are under threat from logging.
In South America forest originally covered more than 9.7 million square kilometers.
54% of South America's frontier forest is under moderate or high threat.
The majority of countries with high levels of biodiversity are located in South America
Original Forest: 6.8 million square km.
8% (0.5 million square kilometers) of Africa's original forest remains as frontier forest.
77% of Africa's frontier forest are under moderate or high threat.
The Accepted Narrative “One tragic example of the loss of forests and then water is found in Ethiopia. The amount of its forested land has decreased from 40 to 1 percent in the last four decades. Currently the amount of rainfall has declined to a point where the country is rapidly becoming a wasteland” Senator Albert Gore Earth in the Balance (1992)
Ethiopia’s Forest Deg Narrative Asserts a historical baseline for which no systematic data are available Assumes that degradation is cumulative and induced by human mismanagement Presents an apocalyptic forecast with a trajectory of complete deforestation, which will ultimately cause chronic drought
Data Flaws Review of literature reveals base-line data was inaccurate. First colonial data: Late 1800’s Stebbings: 1930’s (Swift, 1997) Assumptions Cleaver & Schreiber admit Imperfect data Aggregate data obscure results Large tracts of forest still exist
Socioeconomic Crises Malnutrition Poverty On balance, deforestation may help, not hurt, Africans’ chances at survival
Excessive Generalization ¾ of the entire continent suffer same problems? Multiple examples of successful forestry initiatives. Botswana Niger South Africa Ghana
Botswana National Conservation efforts 6 forest reserves Eco-tourism Energy shift
Niger Individual efforts make a difference. Newsweek claims Niger is the poorest country in many development studies. Yale & Columbia created an Environmental Performance Index in which Niger scored a 6 (of 100). 90% of country’s population depends on 10% of its land…cause for change?
South Africa American Forests, Spring 2003, Gaynor Lawson: S.Africa’s timber industry allows it to preserve native forests while extracting from plantations. 360,000 trees planted every day, 90 million a year! Timber industry encourages small-development by providing grants, education. More than 75% of S.Africa’s forests managed according to FSC standards.
Ghana Natural forest zone: 30% of country Large source of income Recognized as one of the most advanced tropical African countries in establishing forest policy, legislation, forest inventory, management planning. Developed a National Forest Standard and principles, criteria and indicators for judging the quality of forest management and usage.
Soil Amendments Africa’s low adoption rate of inorganic fertilizer use decreases agriculture productivity (yield/ha). Currently, the US experiences negative environmental effects from over fertilization The negative environmental effects from low fertilizer use are greater than the negative effects from high fertilizer use in Africa. Currently fertilizers are 2 to 4 times more expensive in Africa than in developed nations. US Aid in fertilizer would avert much of the so called “crisis.”
Zimbabwe Soil Fertility Study Studies may incorrectly link soil nutrient depletion to deforestation Gully development and deforestation easily linked Nutrient depletion has numerous causes, more likely poor farming practices. Farmers did not know that the pH level was extremely low. Low pH will decrease availability of macronutrients and increase the availability of micronutrients to that of toxic levels. http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/ae938e/ae938e06.htm
Africa’s Future Needs Mineral Fertilizer Market Particularly need Lime Technology which makes use of Human Capital
Can it be done? http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/reports/country_proc4.htm
Sesbaniasesban Maize flourishes in the rainy season and the sesbania tree grows in the dry season fixing nitrogen in the soil and providing fuelwood for the household. With one agroforestry technique both hunger and deforestation can be addressed. This is but one of the many appropriate technology solutions which we propose will alleviate current deforestation issues. The tailored nature of this technological advancement reinforces the benefits of dispelling the current degradation narrative for the empirical, local land use research. http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/Sesbania_sesban.htm
Environmental Kuznet’s Curve Institutions and the Environmental Kuznets Curve for Deforestation: A Cross-country Analysis for Latin America, Africa and Asia MadhusudanBhattarai and Michael Hammig, Clemson University, South Carolina, USA Size of Study:31 Sub-Saharan African countries Time Period:1972-91 Size of Forests: >1,000,000 hectares in 1990 Africa and Latin America have an EKC for deforestation. In Africa the tipping point is US$ 1,300 The mean income of the African countries studied was US$ 1,000
Other Factors Illegal logging Only significant for Asia Positive effect Institutions and Increased Civil Liberties Significant for Africa and Latin America Negative effect External Debt Significant for all Positive effect Change in Cereal Yield (proxy for technical advancement) Significant for Africa Negative effect Rural Population Growth Significant for all Positive effect for Africa and Latin America May present a U-Shaped curve similar to EKC (Templeton and Scherr (1999)
Solutions in Reference to EKC If degradation is more severe to be addressed by the EKC solutions exist Policies which address the significant factors flatten the curve. Institutions, Tech Change, and Rural Population Density factors have the greatest effect.
Inadequate Institutions Weak states Decolonization Market institutions
Websites World Resource Institute http://multimedia.wri.org/frontier_forest_maps/index.html Forest Watch http://www.globalforestwatch.org/english/interactive.maps/index.htm Soil Information ftp://ftp.fao.org/agl/agll/docs/wsr.pdf http://www.compete-bioafrica.net/current_land/current_land.html