Preserving and restoring natural habitats vital to our well-being.
We are working to preserve and restore forest environments in East Africa by engaging in and promoting sustainable forestry management practices to reduce deforestation in the region. The Sustainable Forestry Management Program activities include:
- Educate local communities on the importance of forest resources to improve awareness.
- Explore alternate income-generating activities for forest utilization.
- Propagate and plant tree seedlings through community outgrower programs.
In 1990, East Africa had 50.6m ha of forest. This shrank by more than 10% (to 45.5m ha) in 2000, and a further 11% to 40.5m ha in 2010. In total, 10.1m ha of forests were cut down.
In 2010, Tanzania had the largest share of forest area in East Africa, with 33.4m ha (83%). However, there has been a clear trend of significant deforestation in the country during the two decades since 1990. Indeed, during this period Tanzania reduced its forested area by 8.1m ha, accounting for 80% of the region’s total deforestation. From 2000 to 2010, Tanzania had the 4th worst deforestation rate in the world.
Kenya’s share of the forest area in 2010 was 3.5m ha (9%) — almost 7% less than in 1990. Uganda had 3m ha (7%) in 2010, down 37% from 1990. Burundi also lost some 117,000 ha of forest. Rwanda has expanded its forest areas by 117,000 ha over the last two decades; this is, however, a very small percentage compared to the total deforested area.
East Africa’s forests provide wildlife habitats, unique and diverse natural ecosystems, and water catchments that are vital to the survival of rural communities. Harvests from forests and related ecosystems are a primary source of rural income and a fallback when other sources of employment falter. They also face deforestation at a rate of approximately 500,000 ha per annum, the result of from heavy pressure from agricultural expansion, livestock grazing, wildfires, unsustainable utilization of wood resources, and other human activities (mainly in the general lands).
It is critical to recognize that the environmental quality of growth matters to the poor. It cannot be assumed that environmental improvement can be deferred until growth has alleviated income poverty and rising incomes make more resources available for environmental protection. This strategy ignores the importance of environmental goods and services to people’s livelihoods and wellbeing. Many examples demonstrate that bad environmental management is bad for growth, and that the poor suffer the most from environmental degradation.