Deforestation causes 12 to 18 percent of the world’s carbon emission, almost equal to all the carbon emissions from the global transport sector, data from the United Nations (UN) shows.
With forests home to 80 percent of all terrestrial biodiversity, the link between forests and climate change adaptation and mitigation is clear.
Climate and forestry experts from the UN agree that slowing the rate of deforestation is the cheapest and one of the most effective ways to combat climate change.
In lieu of this, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 of the UN aims to protect forests and combat biodiversity loss.
‘Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss’, the SDG 15 reads.
Through the Green Cities Initiative, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has aligned its development intervention in Senegal with the UN’s SDG 15.
The FAO’s Green Cities Initiative aims to strengthen urban and peri-urban forestry and also aid in the preservation of the environment and forest resources.
It is understood that the initiative has successfully supported the revitalisation of the Mbao classified forest in Dakar with the reforestation of 200 feet of different species of trees in the Mbao arboretum.
The FAO, in a tweet, noted that the Green Cities Initiative has planted 500 cashew trees, three hectares of eucalyptus and 0.5 hectares of Moringa.
The initiative has also supported the establishment of coconut trees, Guédiawaye, Malika and filaos in restoration and reforestation perimeters in the suburbs of Dakar.
‘The [FAO in Senegal] supports the revitalisation of the Arboretum of the Mbao Classified Forest with the reforestation of 200 feet of different species. 500 cashew trees, [three hectares] of eucalyptus and 0.5 [hectares] of Moringa’, FAO tweeted.
‘The #VillesVertes Initiative of [FAO] supported the establishment of coconut trees [and] filaos in restoration [and] reforestation perimeters in the suburbs of [Dakar]’.
The initiative, according to the FAO, also sensitised 40 primary and mid-secondary school students to the preservation of the environment and forest resources.
Data from the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) shows that Senegalese agriculture, which heavily depends on rainfall, is exposed to serious threats from climate change.
The agriculture sector employs about 70 percent of the Senegalese population and represents about 7.1 percent of GDP.
The Mbao forest, which was planted by the government of Senegal in 1908 as part of a reforestation project to halt land erosion and replenish the soil, has shrunk to 700 hectares, from 815 hectares in 1940.
Also, approximately 54,000 hectares of coastal forests disappeared in Senegal between 1980 and 2005, according to a study by the FAO.
To slow the encroaching Sahara desert, the African Union (AU) announced in 2007 a ‘Great Green Wall’ of trees stretching from Senegal to Djibouti and 20 other countries along the Sahel.
However, only about 15 percent of the original goal has been met, with an estimated U.S. $43 billion needed to reach the original 2030 target, which is unlikely to happen amid the global economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.
It is clear that the impacts of climate change, such as increasing desertification and decreasing annual rainfall, have taken an economic, environmental and social toll on rural communities in Senegal.
Therefore, reforestation efforts, like those of the Green Cities Initiative, are crucial to boost the country’s resilience to climate change, replenish its depleting biodiversity and slow desertification.
Photo source: FAO