The Congo Basin
African forests are a key piece of the climate puzzle and they are the livelihood of tens of millions.
The Congo Basin rainforest is the second largest on earth, taking up an area three times the size of France. About half lies within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the rest stretches across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Africa's Future Lies in a Green Energy Grid
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 14, 2010 (IPS) - Development in Africa could falter as climate change grips the continent, increasing the length and severity of droughts and floods by altering precipitation patterns, among other impacts.
The region needs a major shift in its economic development policies and thinking towards decentralised, green economic development, experts now say.
"The world's big economies are largely living off financial transactions which are unconnected to development," warns Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Africa: Key Issues at Cancun
Adaptation: An Essential Response to Climate Change
Adaptation has been the “ugly duckling” of climate change for decades. In the climate change policy community, no one wanted to talk about adaptation — instead, we wanted to see emissions reduced to the point where no one need worry about impacts like sea level rise or droughts.
Urbanization and Environmental Sustainability
Now home to half of the world's people, cities are increasingly at the forefront of our most pressing environmental challenges. While the current pace of urbanization is not unique in human history, the sheer magnitude of urban growth--driven by massive demographic shifts in the developing world--is unprecedented, with vast implications for human well-being and the environment. However, where cities pose environmental problems, they also offer solutions. As hotspots of consumption, production, and waste generation, cities possess unparalleled potential to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of society as a whole
Climate change winners and losers in Sahel
Submitted by Camilla Toulmin on Wed, 22/12/2010 - 07:29
Earlier this month, I spent a week in Mali, going back to the villages which I have studied for the past 30 years. While international climate negotiators met in Cancun, Mexico, for the UN summit on climate change, I was keen to catch up on how climate change was affecting livelihoods in the West African Sahel.
This year has brought heavy rain to much of the region and with it, a mixed bag of impacts on yields of the local staple crop, millet. For farmers in the Kala region north of Segou in central Mali, the heavy rainfall has been good for the long-cycle sanyo millet, which takes 6–7 months to mature. But the fast-growing souna millet, which matures in 3–4 months, has performed poorly. This is partly due to impoverishment of soils. “When rain falls heavily you need a lot of power in the soil — that power is supplied by animal dung. That’s what creates the heat that supplies energy to the crop,” says local farmer Ganiba Dembele, showing me the yellow leaves of the souna millet. He and other farmers recognise that their plots need to be replenished with dung each year if they are to produce well, particularly in wetter growing conditions. “We’ve increased the size of our fields so much, we can’t get enough dung from our flocks and herds to keep them well-fertilised. It’s lucky we have sanyo to make up the deficit,” he adds.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Adaptation Fund starts delivering
Johannesburg, 24 September 2010 (IRIN) - In what is being hailed as a breakthrough for a "collective effort" by developed and developing countries, the Adaptation Fund set up by the UN to help poor countries cope with the unfolding impact of climate change has finally become operational.
Last week, the Fund's board approved two adaptation projects, one in Senegal - threatened by sea-level rise, less rainfall and high temperatures - and the other in Honduras, which faces increasing water shortages.
The two projects worth a total of about US$14 million are not only the first to be approved by the board but also the first to get money directly from the Fund. Developing countries had been lobbying for direct access, and have now been granted control over how to spend the funds.
Indigenous peoples key to timber trade policy
ITTO's Civil Society Advisory Group (l to r): Chen Hin Keong, Global Forest Trade Programme Leader, TRAFFIC; Cecile Ndjebet, Coordinator, Cameroon Ecology and President of REFACOF – African Women’s Network for Community Forest Management; Emmanuel Ze Meka, Executive Director, ITTO; Christine Wulandari, FKKM – Indonesian Community Forestry Communications Forum; Augusta Molnar, Rights and Resources Institute; Francis Colee, Green Advocates, LiberiaYokohama, Japan, 18th December 2010—The views of indigenous peoples and community-based organizations are an essential element of forestry and climate change debates, and their opinions are vital in shaping policies and decisions in the forestry sector, a key timber meeting in Japan this week was told.
Assessing Utilization of Low-input Agriculture Technologies (liats) in Malawi: Adoption and Challenges for the Malawian Subsistence Farmer
Environmental Assessments for Sierra Leone Help Sustainable Development
Freetown, 20 December 2010 The vital role of environmental assessments in supporting the sustainable use of Sierra Leone's rich natural heritage has won high level support at a seminar entitled 'Environmental Assessment: A Tool for Sustainable Development', which took place last week in the country's capital of Freetown
Kenya: HIV-Positive Woman On Food Aid Now Selling Food To WFP
Anne Rono is a small farmer, but after contracting HIV, lost the strength to farm her land. With the help of antiretroviral drugs and nutritious food, she’s not only back on her feet but selling her crops to WFP through an innovative new programme that links small farmers to markets.
Community-based initiatives more effective against female genital cutting – UN
18 November 2010 – Initiatives to encourage communities in Africa to abandon female genital mutilation or cutting are more effective when used to reinforce the positive aspects of local cultures and build trust by implementing development projects, the findings of a United Nations study released today show.
“Rather than ‘fighting’ against local culture and presenting traditional behaviours as negative, effective programmes propose alternative mechanisms to signal adherence to shared community values and to frame the discussion surrounding FGM in a non-threatening way,” it states.
UN survey shows declining water availability in Africa, highlights solutions
25 November 2010 – The amount of water available per person in Africa is declining and only 26 of the continent's 53 countries are currently on track to reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to clean drinking water by 2015, according to a survey by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released today.
Furthermore, only five countries in Africa are expected to attain the target of reducing by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation by 2015, the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets agreed to by all countries and leading development institutions to meet the needs of the world's poores
Scientists show waves of deforestation across East Africa
A new study co-authored by a WWF scientist documents waves of forest degradation advancing like ripples in a pond 75 miles across East Africa in just 14 years.
Scientists from 12 organizations in Europe, Africa and the US demonstrated that forest exploitation begins with the removal of the most valuable products first, such as timber for export, followed by the extraction of less valuable products such as low value timber and charcoal in strict sequence. This ‘logging down the profit margin’ in tropical forests follows the same pattern of removal seen for fish in unmanaged oceans.
WWF and Mozambique government join forces to protect marine resources
WWF and Mozambique agreed to work together to boost marine life protection and develop joint mechanisms to better investigate and monitor fisheries of the country with a coastline of nearly 3000 kilometres.
With such a vast coastline, a continental shelf and an Exclusive Economic Zone of about 508.092 km², Mozambique has a great interest in improving marine resource management, a key factor for food security and sustainable development.
Madagascar drought forces farmers into charcoal devastation
Toliara, Madagascar - 2 years of drought and late arrival of the rainy season in south western Madagascar have forced hundreds of farmers into charcoal producing which is devastating forests, according to WWF field staff at Tollara.
“Charcoal production in the South of Madagascar is particularly unsustainable as people cut the natural spiny forest, a unique ecosystem which exists nowhere else” says Bernardin Rasolonandrasana, Spiny Forest Eco-regional Leader for WWF in Toliara. “We are horrified to see the amount of charcoal currently coming out of those forests.”
Logistics "acrobat" supports WWF in Goma
David Mapendano is a logistician for WWF in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. He supports the Virunga Environmental Program, or PEVi. He explains what motivated him to seek a career in conservation, and the day-to-day challenges he faces.
It all began at the summit of Nyiragongo. My secondary school had organized a climb up the volcano. At the edge of the crater I gazed at the view in front of me. I was enticed by the beauty of the site and immediately convinced that it should be preserved at all costs. I was 17 years old. I then started a little vegetable garden at home, where I grew carrots, cabbages and other vegetab
Prospects improve for vital world water treaty
Africa needs stronger fisheries management, ministers told
Banjul, Gambia: African countries need to take fisheries management seriously, the first ever continental meeting of fisheries ministers has been told.
The Forum of South West Indian Ocean Civil Societies reminded the inaugural Conference of African Ministers on Fisheries and Aquaculture (CAMFA) that 200 Million Africans were dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood.
UNESCO recognizes threats to Madagascar rainforest
The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has placed the Atsinanana Rainforest in Madagascar on its list of World Heritage in Danger sites because of an ongoing government-influenced illegal logging crisis and continuing lemur bush meat consumption in some of the national parks that are part of the forest.
UNESCO in a statement noted that despite a decree outlawing the exploitation and export of precious woods, Madagascar continues to provide export permits for illegally logged rosewood and ebony. It also said that other countries that have ratified the World Heritage Convention are known destinations for this timber
WWF welcomes Central African clampdown on smugglers
Yaoundé, Cameroon – An operation by special police forces earlier this week in Central African Republic (CAR) led to the arrest of an important wildlife smuggler and seizure of elephant tusks and cat skins.
This comes amidst a series of similar successful operations in Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of Congo. WWF applauds these efforts as they give a clear warning to wildlife traffickers in the region.
The RALF (French acronym for Strengthening of the Wildlife Law Enforcement) project aims to increase wildlife law enforcement activities and judiciary follow-up of wildlife crimes in the CAR, targeting mainly high-level wildlife traffickers. It works closely with the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.
Traditional Knowledge Protection for African Cultures
Nine of the seventeen nations that form the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) signed a protocol on the protection of Traditional knowledge and folklore. The protocol is meant to protect creations derived from traditional knowledge of ARIPO member states. The protocol contains sections on assignments, licenses, and the recognition of knowledge holders. There are also provisions for compulsory licenses when there is a superceding state need. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) praised the protocol in an August 31 statement calling it “an historic step for ARIPO’s seventeen member states, and a milestone in the evolution of intellectual property.”
Mapping Ecosystems, the Better to Conserve Them
Environmentalists have a special affinity for maps. Whether terrestrial or marine, the environment and its ills are tied to a geography that can be expressed in a rectilinear scale.
As science progresses, so do the maps. Witness the latest effort from the state of Massachusetts.
To ensure that largely private efforts to set aside land do the most public good, the state Department of Fish and Game has just unveiled the latest and most elaborate version of its online BioMap, complete with instructions on how to use it.
Saving critical wilderness areas in Rwanda's forests
The forests of the Congo Basin are still exceptionally intact. But with this unique ecosystem threatened by political unrest in the region, a series of projects aims to ensure they stay that way.
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