Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in the West African Sahel, includes sparse and dry forests, woodlands, wooded and shrub savannas, and a large desert area to the North. The country relies heavily on agriculture, yet faces shrinking arable land and increasing soil degradation. Enhancing factors such as climate change and rising demand for land and natural resources in general are creating a downward cycle from which forest degradation appears as one of the particularly challenging consequences. It is also the first step towards soil degradation, which reduces the area of arable land, further increasing the pressures on the remaining land and forest resources.
On a beautiful fall afternoon in 2017, I visited a “female only” village in Telkouk locality, Kassala State, Sudan. There, a woman dressed in blue caught my attention. We were wearing the same color that day, and I soon found that she and I shared a few other things in common.
Dried, mopane worms are traditionally offered to foreigners visiting Zimbabwe as a welcoming snack. Not really worms at all, they are the caterpillars of the Emperor moth (Gonimbrasia belina), hand-picked from mopane trees in the wild, their names “madora” in Shona and “amacimbi” in Ndebele a testament to their local popularity.
Africa’s unique natural assets—its iconic wildlife, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, rapids, majestic forests, unique bird populations, pristine beaches and coral reefs—represent tremendous value. Wonders of nature such as Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, and the Victoria Falls, as well as Zanzibar’s Stone Town and its beautiful beaches, and the wildebeest migration between the Masai Mara and Serengeti, are some of the world’s best-known tourist attractions.
This is the third blog in a serieson forest livelihoods in Africa.
Every year on the International Day of Forests, we celebrate the vital role of forests―their contribution to the air we breathe, to healthy water cycles, to soil conservation, carbon sequestration, and the provision of habitats. We are also reminded about the urgent need to halt deforestation, which is accounting for about 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
This is the first blog in a series on forests and livelihoods.
Africa’s forests, landscapes, and ecosystems have many contributions to development. They contribute directly to the well-being and food security of poor people. According to the World Bank Forest Action Plan, the impact of forests on poverty is greatest in Africa, with forest-related income lifting 11% of rural households out of extreme poverty. Forests also supply critical raw materials needed to grow the economy, provide habitat to rich flora and fauna, regulate hydrology, and sequester carbon.