African Rainforest

African Rainforests
African tropical rainforest. World Conservation Monitoring Centre - World Bank

Except for the Congo Basin, the tropical rain forests of Africa have been largely depleted by commercial exploitation by logging and conversion for agriculture. In West Africa, nearly 90 percent of the original rainforest is gone and the remainder is heavily fragmented and in poor use. Especially problematic in Africa is desertification and conversion of rainforests to erodible agriculture and grazing lands.



Review Rainforest Information by Country:


Benin
Burkina Faso
Burundi

Central African Republic
Comoros
Congo
Congo(Zaire - Dem Republic)
Cote d'Ivoire(Ivory Coast)
Equatorial Guinea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Liberia
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mozambique
Niger
Nigeria
Rwanda
Senegal
Sao Tome and Principe
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Somalia
Sudan
Tanzania
Togo
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Current Status

Most of the tropical rainforests of Africa exist in the Congo (Zaire) River Basin. Remnants also exist throughout Western Africa which is in a sorry state due to the plight of poverty which encourages subsistence agriculture and firewood harvesting. This realm is dry and seasonal when compared to the other realms. The outlying portions of this rainforest is steadily becoming desert.

Background

By far, the largest number of countries with rainforests are located in one geographical section of the World - the Afrotropical region.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicates these 38 countries exist mainly in West and Central Africa. The countries, for the most part, are very poor and live at the subsistence level.

The Good and Bad News>>>

The Bad News

Over 90% of West Africa's original forest has been lost over the last century and only a small part of what remains qualifies as "closed" forest. Africa lost the highest percentage of rainforests during the 1980s of any other tropical region. During 1990-95 the annual rate of total deforestation in Africa was nearly 1 per cent. In the whole of Africa, for every 28 trees cut down, only one tree is replanted.



Says rainforest expert Rhett Butler, who wrote the book A Place Out of Time: Tropical Rainforests and the Perils They Face, "the outlook for the regions rainforests is not promising. Many countries have agreed in principle to conventions of biodiversity and forest preservation, but in practice these concepts of sustainable forestry are not enforced. Most governments lack the funds and technical know-how to make these projects a reality"..."Funding for most conservation projects comes from foreign sectors and 70-75% of forestry in the region is funded by external resources. Additionally a population growth rate exceeding 3% annually combined with the poverty of rural peoples, makes it difficult for the government to control local subsistence clearing and hunting."

The Good News

An economic downturn in important parts of the world has many African nations reexamining their forest product harvesting policies.

Local programs addressing the sustainable management of rainforests have been initiated by African and international organizations alike. These programs are showing some potential but have had minimal effect to date.

The UN is putting some pressure on African governments to abandon tax incentives for practices that encourage deforestation.

Ecotourism and bioprospecting is believed to have potentially as much or more value for local economies than wood products.

Where It Stands