Thursday, November 26, 2009
The Forgotten Glory!
LOGS FOR SALE! This is the sight that meets the eyes of a traveller on the road to the Copperbelt - Zambia. Local Community Members are hit hard by poverty and have no other thing but to be involved in felling of trees, contributing to the clearing of the natural rainforest in the country. PHOTO/ER
While the world is appalled on the decreasing rates of natural rain forests through illegal logging and ‘logging’ by local community members for domestic use purposes; we are faced with the questions as to who gives the permission for the felling of trees, how the timber is used and who audits the revenues from the logging that continues to ravage the once vibrant rain forest in Africa. Let’s read on, discuss and find solutions to bring back the lost glory of African Flora and Fauna...
“In our day, felling of trees for domestic use was not an issue to ask permission for therefore no one should today tell us that we have to be allowed by some authority.” These words were spoken by a senior citizen when we were on a live radio programme talking about the natural resources.
This is the view carried out by many which in many instances carries with it valid argument and implying that the natural resources should there for the benefit of all in the society and or those within the borders of a political jurisdiction. But this argument as valid as I would like to see it misses one important factor; and that is the regulatory legislatures that govern the controlled use and sustainability of the natural resources for the use of future generation without putting at risk the livelihoods of the present.
Deforestation in Africa
It is an undeniable truth that a number of countries in Africa have had a rich ecosystem over the years but which is now faced with depletion. Clearing of the natural rainforest for whatever purposes; has resulted in deadly floods and now making the changes in climate which poses great concerns. By and by, biodiversity is becoming a forgotten word if not already forgotten.
In the context of Africa and countries in the continent rich in natural resources in the extractive industry, forestry and fishing; the clearing of the natural rain forest is attributed to the growing business in the extractive and agricultural industries.
There has been a rush in the extractive and the agricultural industry where massive lands are given out by governments to investors in the mining industry and modern farming industry where deforestation is done to extract Gold, Copper, Cobalt, Uranium and other precious metals and stones or for purposes of feeding livestock.
Zambia and Tanzania comes to close view as the activities are proactively carried out through direct foreign investments. When you fly over the two countries one is shocked at the level of clearing of the natural rain forest. In Tanzania the clearing is caused by the extractive industry and agro-fuels while in Zambia it is caused by the extractive industry, livestock feeds (for the growing beef industry), agro-fuels and charcoal burning for both domestic use and income generation by the local community members. The latter is shared in both countries.
With the said in focus, a number of questions come to mind; one - who benefits from all this, and two; who audits the revenues from the timber harvested when our natural rain forest is cleared – especially by the investors in our countries?
Deforestation and World Statistics
It is recorded that “barely in 40 years the world’s vibrant natural rainforest has been reduced at the rate of 20%.” This injustice against the environment is committed to feed livestock and replacement of the natural with plantations of Eucalyptus and Palm Oil trees in order to produce paper, cosmetics, fuel and false arguments on provisions of employment opportunities for local population.
The other sharp contrast which is also a huge contributor to the lost glory of the once vibrant ecosystem is the charcoal burning by the local communities to meet daily needs resulting from poor developmental infrastructures, imperialistic attitude of the Northern countries, lack of political will and corruption in the poor countries which otherwise are rich in natural wealth.
Copenhagen and Ecological Debt
As we approach the summit for Climate Change in Copenhagen, there’s a need for those who will be attending from Africa and other developing economies in the world whose resources have for so long been looted to make economies in the Northern hemisphere strong to make their points clear.
As the looting continues, our water sources are polluted and environment degraded to irreparable measures. We need to stand and ensure that the ecological debt is dealt with. One question I would like to ask is this; what agenda does my colleagues from Africa and developing countries have as they will attend the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen in a few weeks time?