Scientists develop database to help fight forest degradation in Eastern Africa

Environmental degradation

Scientists at the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) have designed a forest observatory database that gives information on activities that contributes to the destruction and degradation of forests in Africa.

Ngugi Kimani, a scientist at RCMRD told Xinhua in Nairobi on Friday that the Eastern African Forest Observatory (OFESA), a pilot project, is aimed at detecting threats to forests in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.

“The database highlights forest cover loss, charcoal burning, human settlement and wanton cutting of trees,” he said.

He said that the OFESA is expected to contribute to the collation and sharing of relevant data and information on forest in East Africa besides providing support on decision making processes to governments across the region.

The project that is funded by the European Union at a cost of 531,000 U.S. dollars to re-enforce ownership of forests by the national forest agencies to the environmental information in the decision making processes.

Kimani said that the database collects diverse sources of data and provides the users with a cross cutting vision on the forest sector in the four countries by hosting regional database and website for the regional forest observation.

“It has helped create a holistic monitoring system of East African forests and regularly update the knowledge database, identify the important issues for future strategies and programs and allow for a fine analysis of these parameters for combating illegal logging and destruction,” he added.

Kimani said that the data and information compiled in this observatory has been provided by the four countries.

“OFESA is also helping strengthen national forest agencies in the region in their capacity to report on their mitigation actions in the forest sector in the context of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries (REDD+),” he added.

The project that is ending in April next year is currently contributing towards the assessment of adaptation and biodiversity benefits of forest coverage and sustainable forest management.

This enables policy makers in the four countries to use the data in their policy and strategy development.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD) are also partnering in this project that involves national government agencies from forest, environment, biodiversity and wildlife. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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