Timberlands or forest cover over 30% of the world’s territory and contain in excess of 60,000 tree species. Every year, in excess of 13 million hectares (32 million sections of land) of woodlands are lost. The figure is particularly intense in Africa where rainforests are being cleared at 2% a year, and at more than 5% a year in specific zones, jeopardizing plants, untamed life, and the people who rely upon them.
In celebration of the International Day of Forests, an effort by the U.N. to celebrate and protect woodlands and trees around the world, we look at the three most threatened forests in Africa, as reported by the World Wildlife Fund.
Madagascar – Indian Oceans Forest
This region has lost over 90% of its original forest — mostly because of logging and mining. The region’s habitat has been devastated, leaving over half of the population with no access to fresh water and depleting much of its unique biodiversity.
Congo Basin Forest
This is the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest and covers 145 million hectares, which is 20% of the world’s tropical forest. It plays an important role in global climate stability and biodiversity protection, including that of the endangered bonobo (human’s closest relative).
Years of war and resource exploitation through corruption and flawed law enforcement in the region has led to uncontrolled industrial logging which threatens the vitality of the rainforest.
Eastern Africa Forest
The coastal forests of Tanzania and Kenya have also been reduced to 10 percent of their original area.
The region’s forests are overharvested for timber and fuelwood, illegally logged and converted into livestock and cash crops. The region’s miombo woodlands, coastal forests and mountain forests have all suffered large deforestation.