text size: smaller reset larger

 

 

Forest loss higher next to protected parks

Between 2001 and 2009, forest cover decreased in every country in East Africa, except South Sudan (© Douglas Sheil/CIFOR)
Between 2001 and 2009, forest cover decreased in every country in East Africa, except South Sudan
© Douglas Sheil/CIFOR

Between 2001 and 2009, forest cover decreased in every country in East Africa - except South Sudan - but forest loss was highest next to protected areas, a new study has revealed. "This is partly due to increased demand, resulting from visitors to protected areas, and partly because cutting wood is illegal within protected areas, so are concentrated in the common lands around the periphery," explains Dr Rob Marchant, one of the authors of the study from the University of York. The study concluded that National Parks were the most successful at protecting forests, although only 26 out of 48 parks increased or maintained their forest areas. Forest reserves, nature reserves and game parks were more likely to lose forest cover.

"A widespread lack of integration of protected areas with local development and community needs can lead to alienation between resource requirements and conservation aims," Marchant adds. "Fear of conservation-related 'land grabs' may accelerate 'defensive farming', as local communities struggling to meet their resource needs expand the land under cultivation to formalise land tenure and gain land use security. Also 'leakage' may offset forest protection within parks by elevating forest loss in areas nearby, as demands for food and fuel still need to be met," he adds.

In East Africa, human pressure, forest accessibility, protection status, and long-term annual rainfall variability were found to be significant drivers of forest loss, contributing to increased carbon emissions, and reduced biodiversity and availability of essential ecosystem services. Marchant states that some of these factors can be addressed by adjusting park management: "Involving local communities in forest management improves forest conservation outcomes. Such an approach provides both ownership and responsibility to the management of the natural resources and of course can provide direct revenue, which may become more important with the development of schemes, such as REDD+, to compensate those managing forests in a way to actively promote carbon storage. However, addressing close links between livelihoods, natural capacity and poverty remains a fundamental challenge in East Africa's forest conservation efforts."

Date published: August 2012

 

Have your say

 

The New Agriculturist is a WRENmedia production.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.
Accept
Read more