When it comes to climate change, much of the conversation is limited to energy policies. Meanwhile, wholesale deforestation is releasing staggering amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every day, while eliminating nature’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the air.
First, it’s estimated that deforestation is responsible for 20 percent of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Secondly, healthy forests can capture several tons of CO2 per acre from the atmosphere every year. Deforestation eliminates that capacity from our ecosystem, which is half the reason we’re treading water today in many regions of the world and drying up in others.
Of course, these forests also are critical to the survival of endangered species and endangered communities. Thanks to deforestation, orangutans, tigers, elephants and many other endangered species are at critical levels and their habitats (our shared resources) are still under siege.
The forests in East Africa represent one of the largest stands of tropical forest left in the world. Unfortunately, Tanzania’s forests are vanishing faster than most tropical forests, which makes it even more important to seize the opportunity to conserve them. Villagers cut them for firewood, while the effects of drought cut deeper and deeper each year. We can stop the destruction and reverse it with a regional reforestation and economic development project that will create hundreds of jobs and help protect wildlife.
Some visionary young leaders in East Africa have developed comprehensive plans to help their communities, their countries and the world fight climate change.
The scope already involves six projects, dozens of NGOs, the United Republic of Tanzania and thousands of stakeholders across five nations, including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda. The projects include more than 200 million acres of existing forests that will be permanently protected. Stakeholders also will plant more than 100 million new trees. In addition , the project will include agroforestry, biochar, beekeeping and support for sustainable agriculture.
We can’t afford to lose another acre of woodlands or waste another day on political gridlock regarding energy policy. We have a rare, shovel-ready opportunity to shape the future of Africa and the world. The sooner that we can seize it, the sooner that it can start paying dividends. There are fewer forest conservation and reforestation projects on the planet that can make a difference on this scale this fast.
Please help us contact stakeholders who can fund this important program. We need grants, sponsorships, donations and carbon offset revenue to make this a reality. We can shower our sponsors with as much recognition as they can tolerate as this will become a global showcase for years and years. We can channel the forest conservation efforts as necessary to meet regulatory requirements for carbon offset credit.