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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid