News / Africa

Forest Conservation is Key to Food Security

After 160 million years as an integral part of the Beech and Magnolia forests in the southeastern US, the Stinking Cedar now faces extinction due to habitat destruction and a widespread fungal disease. (Atlanta Botanical Garden)After 160 million years as an integral part of the Beech and Magnolia forests in the southeastern US, the Stinking Cedar now faces extinction due to habitat destruction and a widespread fungal disease. (Atlanta Botanical Garden)
x
After 160 million years as an integral part of the Beech and Magnolia forests in the southeastern US, the Stinking Cedar now faces extinction due to habitat destruction and a widespread fungal disease. (Atlanta Botanical Garden)
After 160 million years as an integral part of the Beech and Magnolia forests in the southeastern US, the Stinking Cedar now faces extinction due to habitat destruction and a widespread fungal disease. (Atlanta Botanical Garden)

Multimedia

Audio
Over 1 billion people worldwide depend on forests to sustain their livelihood, and billions more depend on forests to provide them with clean air and water. 

In addition, it has been noted that forests are home to an estimated 80 percent of a diversity of  plants and animals.  But over the years many forests have been subject to destruction and degradation. However, some scientists are devoting their lives to conserving and rebuilding these precious life sources. 

Terry Sunderland is one such scientist.  He is a senior researcher with the Center for International Forestry Research, CIFOR, based in Bogor, Indonesia.  He has spent many years in central Africa, and is an expert on the continent’s dry forests, biodiversity and food security. 

He said one of the challenges of forest conservation in the past has been either just focusing on forest conservation. or just concentrating on protecting the livelihoods of those who depend on forests. 

“One thing we are doing at CIFOR is looking at conservation and development and people’s livelihoods as a single thing, if you like, and integrating conservation on a landscape scale,” explained Sunderland.

He said a big challenge to the integration process is that it involves multiple scales of involvement.

“It’s all very well in approaching local people, and talking to them about how they conserve and manage their environment.  Then you have the government over-lapping claims on a particular landscape, and we have regional claims on a particular landscape, and you have multi-national claims on a particular landscape.  It’s like peeling back an onion,” said Sunderland.

Sunderland, who spent many years in central Africa, said he found that small-scale farmers in Africa do take measures to protect their land from degradation.

“Small-scale farmers do tend to practice what we consider very low impact agriculture.  It is the larger expansion of agriculture crops, in particular palm oil, biofuel, which are the main contributors to deforestation and land degradation,” said Sunderland, who added people become more vested in their land if they have tenure.  “Tenure is the fundamental contributor to what people do on the land.  If you have access rights, the long term result is you will invest in protecting it.  If you don’t, then people would tend to invest in more destructive practices.”

Sunderland said biodiversity contributes to food security on many levels.

“We are now dependent on only 20 crops for our food security.  At any one time, it is estimated that over 2,000 crop species contribute towards human food security, and 95 percent of food consumed is based on only 20 of those.  A few of those--rice, wheat, and maize--contribute to more than 50 percent of global food consumption,” explained Sunderland.

By narrowing our genetic base in terms of food, said Sunderland, we are exposing ourselves to enormous risks, particularly with climate change.  He said widening our bio-resources not only provides nutritional benefits to humans but also provides more resilience to the dramatic effects of climate change.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid