Friday, 1 June 2012

Forty per cent in Four Decades: the startling decline in Africa's Biodiversity

Africa is the cradle of humanity: in the final analysis, we are all Africans. Our human species emerged from the heart of the Continent some 150,000 years ago, spreading over the planet that is our home. Since then, as we have "advanced" in numbers, technology and resource use, humans have changed the face of the Earth like no other species in its existence. With both massive potential for creative good and destructive bad, humans now stand at a momentous crossroads where one path leads to a powerfully different but better way of life, sustainable and co-operative, while another, the "business-as -usual" scenario, leads to increasing resource exhaustion, worldwide pollution and warming and increasing conflict between humans.

Nowhere perhaps is this choice more urgently apparent than on our Mother Continent of Africa: a report just published today charts a forty per cent decline in African biodiversity in just four decades; and, as everywhere, it is the poor who are bearing the brunt of this.

In this article, Emmanuel K Dogbevi, Managing Online Editor of "", sets out the issues covered by this ground breaking report and the choices that face both Africa and humanity as a whole.
African biodiversity - Miombo Woodlands in Zimbabwe
Africa suffers 40% ecological decline – Report
A new report on Africa’s ecology shows that the continent has suffered a decline of nearly 40% in biodiversity in the last four decades.
The report, a joint effort by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was launched June 1, 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania during the Annual General Meetings of the AfDB.
Titled, ‘The Africa Ecological Footprint Report: Green Infrastructure for Africa’s Ecological Security’ takes stock of the health of Africa’s ecosystems, as well as trends in resources use patterns. It also lays out recommendations on implementing green development pathways for Africa, the AfDB has said in a press release.
It indicates that the report is intended to stoke up thinking on greener development in Africa and to rally action by policy-makers and investors in the lead-up to Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development taking place later this month in Brazil.
According to the release, the Africa Ecological Footprint Report 2012 outlines two alarming trends, which if not addressed by policy-makers and investors are likely to lead to important social and economic impacts.
The first, it says is by tracking the changes in wildlife populations as a proxy for ecosystem health, the Africa Living Planet Index shows a decline of nearly 40% in biodiversity in the last four decades. This decline reflects a degradation of the natural systems upon which Africa’s current and future prosperity depends.
Secondly, the rapid population growth and increasing prosperity are changing consumption patterns, with the result that Africa’s ecological footprint – the area needed to generate the resources consumed by the people who live here – has been growing steadily.
The report finds that while Africa’s total ecological footprint is set to double by 2040 in a business-as-usual scenario, the good news is that Africa is in an advantageous position to act.

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