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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
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 Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
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.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid