African scientists call for harnessing forest resources to attain carbon neutrality

By Xinhua
On 4 July 2023 at 08:03

Africa’s vast forest cover, estimated at 636,639 million hectares or 16 percent of the world’s total, if harnessed sustainably, will catalyze the continent’s drive to achieve carbon neutrality, scientists said on Monday.

Speaking at a forum in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the scientists acknowledged Africa’s escalating climate crisis, adding that the continent’s tropical forests hold the key to a green and resilient future for local communities.

Convened by the Nairobi-based African Forest Forum, the five-day pan-African forum starting on Monday has brought together policymakers, scientists, botanists, and green campaigners to discuss the role of forests and tree-based ecosystems in advancing the continent’s green agenda.

Godwin Kowero, executive secretary of the African Forest Forum, said by protecting the continent’s indigenous forests, grassroots communities will benefit from climate resilience and transformed livelihoods.

"The sustainable management of forest resources will be key to boosting our resilience to climatic shocks, providing income to rural communities, and stabilizing the environment," Kowero said.

According to Kowero, the contribution of the forest ecosystem to Africa’s response to climate change is recognized by multilateral environment agreements and the continent’s long-term growth and transformation blueprint.

He said despite contributing less than 4 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa remains the epicenter of climate disasters, including droughts, floods, wildfires, and tropical storms.

Kowero called for policy reforms, enforcement of legislation, and engagement of the private sector and communities to reverse forest degradation, worsened by climate change, population pressure, and lax policing.

Joshua Cheboiwo, director of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, stressed that sustainable utilization of tropical forests, mangrove swamps, and savannah grasslands will aid Africa’s quest to achieve net-zero targets.

Cheboiwo said the continent should leverage its forest resources to tackle rural poverty and food insecurity, and spur local manufacturing and cross-border trade in natural products.

This photo shows the canopy walkway in Nyungwe National Park. Rwanda is among countries that have expended substantial resources to preserve forests.