We need to win the combat of desertification (Google / IPP Media)

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Desertification: We need to win

By Editor

Tanzania  is faced with many threats, dangers and risks. Wondering why? The depletion of her forests and the general mismanagement of the environment are but only a few of the most visible.

The country is located in what could be called the focal point of the tropical rain forest belt, yet nearly 60 per cent of her forest cover disappears each passing year through unmitigated mismanagement.

As a direct result once though impossible, the country is now considerably desertified and is witnessing a rise in carbon emissions due to indiscriminate tree felling and too much reliance on charcoal and firewood as primary sources of fuel.

Pressure from an international market hungry for timber is clearly among the major contributing factors to the country’s rapid loss of forests.

Efforts to address the problem come in a range of forms and include carious interventions, ranging from the construction and utilisation of more efficient charcoal kilns and stoves to the promotion of beekeeping as an alternate source of income for rural communities and rooting for more sustainable sources of energy.

It is estimated that tree felling costs the country 400,000 hectares of forests each passing year, the main culprit in the depletion of its major natural resources being demand for fuel for domestic use.

Huge forests in the Eastern Arc Mountains – Usambara, Uluguru and Ukaguru – have all been laid waste in the past half a century, making many “traditional” sources of water sources shrink and ultimately die off.

Small wonder that many species of tropical hardwoods in the forests are now known only in name; they have all disappeared with the loss of forests.



Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.