African campaigners urge protection of forests to avert climate disasters

Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)

Protecting Africa’s vast tropical forests will be crucial to shield local communities from devastating climate disasters including droughts, floods and heatwaves, campaigners said on Monday at an event to mark International Day of Forests.

Mithika Mwenda, the executive director of Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) stressed that forests are key to securing a climate-resilient future for the continent besides sustaining rural livelihoods.

“We need to create awareness on the critical role of forests in the fight against climate change. Their protection will therefore guarantee a just and inclusive transition to a greener future,” Mwenda said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

He said the theme of this year’s International Day of Forests and sustainable production and consumption, reinforced the urgency to act on human-induced threats to the vital ecosystems.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

According to Mwenda, deforestation had escalated in Africa amid human encroachment, lethargic enforcement of laws, rampant poverty, conflicts, urbanization and population pressure.

Mwenda cited a study conducted by PACJA and overseas research entities which indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying livelihood disruptions had exerted new pressure on African forests.

Experts emphasized that reversing forest loss in the continent required bold policy choices, progressive leadership, community engagement and harnessing cleaner energy to reduce over-reliance on wood and charcoal.

Ann Tek, the coordinator of Kenya Platform for Climate Governance, said that sustainable management of forests and woodlands will be key to realizing carbon neutrality in the sub-Saharan African region besides shielding local communities from water stress, hunger and respiratory infections. Enditem

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