Deforestation generates about 20 percent of greenhouse gasses, which contribute to global warming and climate change. Deforestation also cripples our planet’s ability to filter carbon dioxide from our air. Unfortunately, deforestation also threatens entire watersheds, endangered species and endangered cultures around the world. An international PR firm based in Phoenix, Arizona has launched a program to help reverse deforestation, while defending entire ecosystems.
If all CO2 emissions stopped today, climate change will still intensify because of existing carbon in the atmosphere. Energy conservation, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture are vital, but we need proven carbon capture strategies to help restore balance to our atmosphere. Forest conservation is more important than ever.
“Thousands of community stakeholders across East Africa are ready to act now,” said Gary Chandler founder of both Crossbow Communications and its subsidiary Sacred Seedlings. “They can help us all fight global climate change, while defending critical ecosystems in Tanzania, Kenya and beyond. We’re launching a campaign to help them secure the resources to succeed.”
According to Chandler, several NGOs, including the Mellowswan Foundation Africa-Tanzania have plans to save remaining forests in the region, while promoting reforestation, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. The program will plant more than 10 million new seedlings just in the Kilimanjaro ecosystem.
A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that protecting East Africa’s mountain ecosystems would safeguard the region’s $7 billion tourism industry, not to mention the lives of millions of people and iconic endangered species.
“Across the continent, the damage done to these ecosystems is depriving people of the basic building blocks of life,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment agency.
He said Mt. Kilimanjaro was an example of how climate change was severely damaging Africa’s mountains and the people who depend on them. Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, contributes to more than a third of Tanzania’s revenue from tourism but is facing several problems, ranging from shrinking glaciers to rampant wildfires. As climate change intensifies, it is essential that governments act swiftly to prevent more harm and more downward momentum. The report urges Tanzania to protect the mountain’s water catchment area by reforestation, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.
Forests are critical to the way Earth functions. They lock up vast amounts of carbon and release oxygen. They influence rainfall, filter fresh water and prevent flooding and soil erosion. They produce wild foods, fuel wood and medicines for the people who live in and around them. They are storehouses of potential future crop varieties and genetic materials with untapped healing qualities. Wood and other fibre grown in forests can be used as a renewable fuel or as raw material for paper, packaging, furniture or housing.
While the pressures on forests vary across regions, the biggest cause of deforestation is expanding agriculture – including commercial livestock and major crops such as palm oil and soy. According to Chandler, Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, carbon capture, reforestation, urban forestry,sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems, including millions of people who live in the region.
Loss of forests isn’t the only problem in East Africa. Tanzania may have lost half its elephant population since 2007. It could be wiped out entirely in just seven years. Kenya’s wildlife also is under assault like never before. Adding to the crisis, there has been loss of wildlife habitat and biodiversity as a result of fragmentation and loss of critical ecosystem linkages and over-exploitation of the natural habitats.
This loss of habitat brings humans and wildlife into more and more conflict over food, water and space–which means more bloodshed.
Tanzania’s elephant population declined from an estimated 109,000 elephants in 2009 to around 70,000 in 2012. Around 30 elephants are killed for their ivory every day, almost 11,000 each year and rising. It’s estimated that more than 35,000 African elephants were killed for ivory in 2012. The number keeps rising.