Ace on Natural Resources
I gather next week the Department of Forestry is hosting a symposium on forest whose theme is fundraising and climatic financing. This is a truly welcome develop as much is need on the prudent management of our forest resources which are under threat. There is increasing interest in the role that forests play in supporting the poor, in reducing their vulnerability to economic and environmental shocks, and in reducing poverty.
However, the contribution that forests actually make to poverty reduction and increasing the livelihood resilience of the poor is often obscure for policy-makers in key ministries, including finance, planning and local government and the supra-ministerial bodies where poverty reduction strategy processes are often located. There is a tendency to underestimate the contribution of forests and off-farm natural resources in general – to livelihoods, and the role of forests in poverty reduction has so far not been reflected in any significant way in national level strategy in most countries.
The conservation of forest also stands & aims at a quick shift in the composition of trees species and age distribution. Forest conservation involves the upkeep of the natural resources within a forest that are beneficial to both humans and the environment. Forests are vital for human life because they provide a diverse range of resources: they store carbon &act as carbon sink, produce oxygen which is vital for existence of life on the earth, so they are rightly called as earth lung, help in regulating hydrological cycle, planetary climate, purify water, provide wild life habitat(50% of the earth's biodiversity occurs in forests), reduce global warming, absorb toxic gases & noise, reduce pollution, conserve soil, mitigate natural hazards such as floods and landslides and so on.
But nowadays, forest cover is depleting rapidly due to many reasons such as an expansion of agriculture, timber plantation, other land uses like pulp and paper plantations, urbanization, construction of roads, industries, constitutes the biggest and severe threat to the forest causing serious environmental damage. Thus, there is need of public awareness Forests are more than simply picturesque retreats in which to enjoy a Sunday hike or picnic – in fact, against the backdrop of global climate change, every one of us is dependent on them. Beyond providing the wood we use for paper and furniture they regulate our water cycle, prevent soil erosion, protect watersheds, provide a habitat for wildlife and forest communities, sustain biodiversity, supply food and shelter, provide the oxygen we breathe and play a vital role in regulating the earth’s climate.
The effects of global climate change are already being felt by us all as the world’s weather patterns are disrupted. From extended heat waves and severe drought in some parts of the world to flooding and extreme cold temperatures in others, it is the poor and vulnerable who will suffer the most. It is never too late to act, however – simply by reducing and offsetting our carbon emissions we can help stop the rate of global warming and prevent the devastating consequences of accelerated global climate change. It is an establish truism that with high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide affecting and disrupting the earth’s climate, it is here that the need for effective forest conservation becomes so apparent. As a country we should be in a position to defend and conserve our forest. Our education paradigm should also focus on forest conservation.
Trees are a crucial component in the fight against global climate change, designed as they are to regulate carbon dioxide levels by absorbing the gas, storing the carbon and releasing oxygen. When trees are cut down, this stored forest carbon is released into the atmosphere, intensifying the levels of carbon dioxide and, consequently, the greenhouse effect. Deforestation currently accounts for approximately 15-20% of the world’s carbon emissions – so it follows that if we can stop deforestation, we can help slow the rate of global climate change accordingly. Historically, forests have played a major role to influence patterns of economic development, supporting livelihoods, helping structure economic change, and promoting sustainable growth. Forests continue today to provide the high levels of commercial benefits to households, companies, and governments that formed the initial impetus for protective statutes and policies.
Forests also provide other sources of incomes and subsistence benefits, generate informal work opportunities, and constitute reservoirs of economic values that help ameliorate shocks to household incomes – particularly in rural areas. The level of employment in forestry is an indicator of both the social and economic value of the sector to society. Employment provides income and, as forestry activities occur in rural areas that are often poorer than the average, it gives some indication of the sector’s contribution to poverty alleviation. In social terms, employment is valuable because it enables individuals to be productive members of society. In next week agenda we should advocate for Participatory Forest Management (PFM) as a potential solution to this institutional vacuum and resulting deforestation. The model creates a framework for collaborative forest management between local communities and government forestry agencies. Under PFM, the parties enter into mutually enforceable agreements that define their respective roles, responsibilities, benefits and authority in the management of forest resources. PFM is not just about forest conservation - it is also and especially about embedding management arrangements that are mutually beneficial to the forests and the people that rely on them.
Establishing profitable forest-based enterprises is now recognized as a major component of a successful PFM project. Forests under participatory management regimes today enable local communities to develop viable and profitable forest-based enterprises. We should benchmark on Organizations like Farm Africa and SOS-Sahel work directly with them to identify forest products and services with high economic return, before providing targeted capacity building. This involves training both staff and locals in improved technologies for quality improvement, developing value chains and establishing linkages to markets, and support for product certification in niche markets that can help generate premium prices If our forestry are properly managed, they provide a wide range of economic and social benefits to Batswana. These include contributions to the overall economy – for example through employment, processing and trade of forest products and energy – and investments in the forest sector. They also include the hosting and protection of sites and landscapes of high cultural, spiritual or recreational value. Maintaining and enhancing these functions is an integral part of sustainable forest management.