The history of deforestation in Africa dates back a few thousands of years, that is, to the time when man started to be engaged in agricultural activity, cattle herding, and metal production. Fire has also played a major role in the process of deforestation and in shaping African forests. During the 1980s the forests of Africa dwindled at the rate of 4.1 million hectares on the average annually, which is 0.7% of the total forest cover. Deforestation has resulted in land degradation, and this has led to agricultural stagnation and even a lowering of productivity, which in turn has promoted further deforestation and thus completes the vicious cycle. There are multiple direct agents of deforestation, like agricultural activity, grazing, fuelwood gathering, infrastructure building, urbanisation, and logging. Population pressure is a major indirect factor determining the pace of deforestation. Africa’s population growth is proceeding at the rate of 3% per annum, which is higher than any other continent. In addition to population pressure, inappropriate land tenure systems, poverty, political instability, and market failure are important indirect factors and they are interlinked. Therefore, in order to retard or halt accelerated deforestation, and utilise the forests of Africa on sustainable bases, a holistic approach and strong political will are needed.
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- Deforestation in Tropical Africa
- Springer Netherlands