News / Africa

Scientists Say Forests Are Key to Preventing Food Insecurity

Kenya's Turkana region shows effects of severe drought affecting Horn of Africa (file photo).
Kenya's Turkana region shows effects of severe drought affecting Horn of Africa (file photo).
Kim Lewis

Scientific research shows that forests are a crucial defense against poverty. A new study says planting trees is critical in preventing famines like the one currently devastating parts of the Horn of Africa.

The report was released by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia. It recommends restoring and preserving dryland forests and planting more trees to provide food, fodder and fertilizer on small farms.

“One of the main problems in the Horn of Africa and certainly in areas of southern Africa is the fact that most of the dry forest ecosystems are extremely fragile,” said Terry Sunderland, senior scientist at CIFOR, who is currently in Nairobi attending meetings on the crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The drylands, he said, are not as productive as humid tropical forests. They are prone to soil erosion depletion after they are cleared, which makes growing crops very difficult.

“There is a strong correlation between maintaining tree coverage and maintaining precipitation. There is strong evidence to suggest when trees are cleared, precipitation drops. The hydrological cycle changes,” said Sunderland, who added that when this happens, drought often follows.

One of the major problems at the moment, particularly in southern and eastern Africa, is the cutting of trees in the dry forests for use in making charcoal, he said. “This is being driven by domestic trade and is also a very lucrative international trade,” said Sunderland.

“There is strong evidence to suggest charcoal is being exported in vast quantities to China for use in smelting work,” said Sunderland. He points out that his organization, CIFOR, is working on a project relating to that trade.

Sunderland says although new research shows trees have an enormously important function in terms of agricultural production, there is little incentive to plant them. “People plant trees on land that belongs to them,” and in Africa much of the land is owned by the state, he said.
But reforestation is crucial, he said, in preventing food insecurity.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid