Climate Change (205)

LOME, Togo (PAMACC News) - When logging concessions are issued with very limited terms, they are often spotlighted by conservationists as harbingers of ecological harm to come. Another serious threat is the existence of logging roads that have continued to damage the environment and forest even after the logging stops.

A new study by forest experts has found out that logging, both legal and illegal, remains a lucrative business that has contributed to the rapid shrinking of Africa’s rainforests and woodlands.

According to Ajewole Opeyemi Isaac of the department of forest resource management of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, the challenges associated with logging in the tropical rainforest in West and Central Africa are the root cause of the rapid depletion of forest resources in these regions.

Key among these challenges is bad governance with limited term timber concessions that breeds corrupt practices, poor planning and management.

“Limited-term timber concessions encourages short-term resource depletion, and poor forest planning and management, corruption which makes existing forestry laws nearly unenforceable,” Ajewole said  at the presentation of his research paper during the African Forest Forum in Lome-Togo September 27, 2016.

He said there was lack of transparency in commercial transactions with corrupt officials granting concessions to cronies without regard for the environment or consideration of local people.
The study also highlighted the construction of logging roads to reach forest resources as destructive factor to the ecology in its own rights.

“Logging roads have long term destruction of forest as it encourages settlement of previously inaccessible forest lands by speculators, land developers and poor farmers,” he said.  

Other studies experts say have found out that along these logging roads and landing areas, the soil increasingly becomes more dense and compact with slower water infiltration than in the surrounding, untouched areas of the forest.

According to Stephen Anderson, a professor of soil science at the University of Missouri and coauthor of the study published in Geoderma and conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri in the U.S, “This can cause many environmental challenges in forests because dense soil prevents rainwater from soaking in, triggering run off and causing erosion. This erosion can carry fertile topsoil away from forests, which enters streams and makes it difficult for those forests being logged to regenerate with new growth as well as polluting surface water resources.”

The repercussions, the study says can last far longer than the logging itself. The researchers found that logging roads and log landing areas were significantly denser and less able to absorb water four years after timber harvesting had ended. This can detrimentally affect the ability of logged forests to regenerate, the study revealed.

Researchers at the African Forest Forum agreed that logging roads around the in many countries in the continent are piercing farther and farther into once-untouched forest in the quest for timber.

“Logging roads are a major threat and cause for concern,” noted Nganje Martin, consultant with the African Forest Forum. The scenario is the same in Africa just like other forest areas in the world he pointed.

Satellite images by the Monitoring Amazon Andean Project, MAAP for example, found new logging roads snaking through primary Amazon rainforest in the Ucayali region of Peru. Other findings from MAAP include illegal logging roads through protected areas.

In the Republic of Congo, the forest monitoring platform Global Forest Watch shows a large network of logging roads spreading through Congo Basin forest over the past few years.

The multiplication of such roads experts say are caused by illegal logging triggered by poverty, weak governance and absence of sustainable forest management.

The developments the experts say have devastating consequences such as loss or degradation of forests resulting in the loss of habitats and biodiversity, significant loss of government revenue, loss of future sources of employment and export earnings.

The African Forest Forum accordingly seeks to generate and share knowledge and information through partnerships in ways that will provide inputs into policy options and capacity building efforts in order to improve forest management in a manner that better addresses poverty eradication and environmental protection in Africa.

SIAVONGA, Zambia (Pamacc News) – The active involvement by Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, in the climate change processes has cheered stakeholders.

Lungu personally took it upon himself to append Zambia’s signature to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change during the Treaty Event at the just ended High-Level Segment of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

While he was away assuring the country’s commitment to the climate treaty, climate stakeholders back home were meeting, mapping out the Southern African country’s participation at the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties (COP 22), to be held in Marrakech, Morocco later in November.

After the landmark adoption of the Paris Agreement, COP 22 is seen as an implementation meeting at which stakeholders are to map out strategies to meet the overall objective of the Agreement of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees.

And the Zambian climate stakeholders are upbeat about the country’s participation considering the President’s keen interest in the processes.

“I think the President’s personal interest in the matter gives us courage and galvanizes our participation at the upcoming COP as a country,” said Richard Lungu, Zambia’s designated United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) focal point person.

Lungu, who is also the Chief Environment and Management Officer at the Ministry of Lands, Natural resources and Environmental Protection, told delegates at the COP 22 preparatory meeting, to re-dedicate themselves to the country’s cause in the climate agenda.

Acknowledging the huge task of mobilising resources to implement the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), Lungu reminded stakeholders of the need to collaborate and speak with one voice with other African countries in ensuring that financing for adaptation remains a key priority for Africa.

Meanwhile, Godwin Gondwe, Director in the Department of Environment and Natural Resource management says for Zambia, “climate change is a matter of life and death,” in view of a country-wide energy crisis due to low water levels at the country’s hydro power stations and reduced agricultural productivity as a result of poor rainfall linked to climate change.

“It is clear even to a layman how climate change is affecting us, energy and agriculture are just but some of the most visible sectors manifesting the reality facing us,” said Gondwe, highlighting the need for proper coordination of all climate change activities.

But for Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Lenox Kalonde, “the country should not lose focus of the key component in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, finance.”

And this is a point that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Zambia office, also emphasized especially in relation to capacity building to ensure a smooth implementation of the country’s climate agenda.

“We are moving into a crucial stage of implementation, and Zambia should not lag behind for it is here where it matters the most,” said Winnine Musonda, the Deputy UNDP Country representative, a key partner to Zambia’s in-country climate change programmes, through the UN Joint Programme on climate change.

According to Article 11 of the Paris Agreement, capacity-building is recognized to be particularly important for developing country parties to take effective climatechange action.The agreement further proposes that the said capacity-building should be country-driven, based on and responsive tonational needs, and foster country ownership of Parties, in particular, fordeveloping country Parties, including at the national, subnational and local levels.

However, most developing country parties lack the financial muscle to undertake such programmes, hence the need for financial support from developed country parties.

“As civil society, we must not lose truck that most of what we have planned in our NDCs require huge financial support,” said Bornface Mumba of the Centre for Environmental Justice, adding that capacity is particularly needed to access funds under some complicated initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund.

But for Robert Chimambo, Board member of the Zambia Climate Change Network (ZCCN), “even as we extend our begging bowl, we should not be sacrifice our indigenous knowledge and practices for fake and unrealistic solutions,” because according to him, Zambia, and Africa in general has a lot to offer.

With 187 signatories to the Paris Agreement, and 60 States depositing their instruments of ratification as at 22nd September 2016, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 47.76% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, the deal could come into force within this year, way ahead of the 2020 scheduled date.

This is so as only eight percent is remaining of the required 55 percent GHG threshold as outlined in article 21 of the Paris Agreement which states that the treaty shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date onwhich at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least anestimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have depositedtheir instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

MARRAKECH, Morocco (PAMACC New) – African agriculture ministers will be meeting on 29-30 September in Morocco to lobby for agriculture issues to be at the heart of the upcoming climate change meeting.  

If it comes to pass, COP22 will become the first meeting of its kind where agriculture is proactively involved in climate negotiations. Previously, environmentalists have always agreed that agriculture is important both in emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, despite of it being the ain area for adaptation especially in the developing world.

Recommendations made following such discussions have always been imposed on the agricultural sector to implement, without actively involving the stakeholders in the negotiation process.

Led by the minister for agriculture and marine fisheries in Morocco, the more than 27 agriculture ministers from Africa will be pushing to have a share of the proposed $100 billion climate fund to go towards agriculture adaptation by 2020.

“The initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) to climate change aims to award a substantial share of the climate funds, which developed countries committed to provide to developing countries within the framework of the COP21 negotiations in Paris last year,” said Aziz Akhannorch, the Moroccan Minister of Agriculture and Maritime Fisheries.

According to the minister, the initiative also aims to promote and foster the implementation of specific projects to improve soil management, agricultural water control, and climate risk management.

The AAA  initiative was launched in April 2016 with an aim of reducing African agriculture vulnerability to climate change.

Currently, there is a delegation visiting different African countries to popularise and make the initiative a solution from Africa, and for Africa.

Road map to COP22 and beyond

The AAA initiative has four targets namely, soil management, farming water management, climate risks management and agriculture financing.

“A continent long neglected, Africa can no longer be ignored. The era during which our Continent was treated as a mere object in international relations is over. Africa is progressing and is asserting itself in the international arena,” said Akhannorch.

The legislator said that time has come to place the adaptation of African agriculture at the heart of COP's challenges, and obtain an equitable distribution of climate funds between adaptation and mitigation.

“We will defend the position of our Continent, which is greatly affected by climate change and sustainable development issues in the Conference of Parties 22 climate change negotiations,” said Akhannorch.

Response to climate change and food security

Africa is only responsible for 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions yet 65 percent of its population is greatly affected.

According to the 2014 Climate Change Vulnerability Index,  the most at risk countries are in Africa and Asia, with six of the ten most affected countries being from Africa.

Some of the countries include Bangladesh, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Haiti, South Sudan, Nigeria, DR Congo, Cambodia, Philippines and Ethiopia which was added in the list last year due to its vulnerability to drought, crop failure and famine.  

The indicator further states that the greatest increase in risk levels are felt in West Africa and the Sahel, whose political terrain is already dominated by food insecurity issues.

Projections up to 2040 indicate a 2 degree rise in average temperatures combined with substantial changes in rainfall and humidity.

Africa already has over 10 million climate refugees  due to a decrease in agriculture  yields which could reach 20 percent by 2050 even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees celsius. This is despite the fact that 65 percent of the world's unused arable land is in Africa.

Climate change experts say that with a population that could double by 2050 and two thirds of the world arable lands, Africa should get committed to tackling food security challenge combining sustainability and efficiency.   


LUSAKA, Zambia (PAMACC News) – Ahead of COP 22 in less than two months, Civil Society Organisations working on climate related activities in Zambia have been urged to intensify their sensitisation programmes on climate change.

Speaking during the CSO Paris Agreement review meeting in Lusaka, Richard Lungu, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) country focal point in Zambia reminded delegates of their critical role in simplifying the Paris Climate Agreement to the masses.

Lungu, who also announced the recent approval of the country’s climate change policy by cabinet, believes CSOs have a greater responsibility of educating the masses on the implications of the Paris Agreement in their lives.

“Our economy is natural resource intensive,” he said, adding “it is incumbent upon us to make people understand the Paris Agreement provisions and what they mean for the implementation of our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).”

The UNFCCC Zambia Focal Point, who is also the Chief Environmental Officer at the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, said government wants to see an active involvement of CSOs especially in the implementation of the climate change policy.

“Now that we have an agreement in place, COP 22 and beyond is about implementation and requires support in form of ideas from all concerned stakeholders so that Zambia, and Africa in general, continues with its push for a successful implementation of the Paris Agreement,” emphasizedLungu, stressing that Africa remains a vulnerable region to climate change with limited capacity to cope without external support.

Organised by Green Enviro Watch with support from Oxfam Zambia, the CSO meeting was called to deliberate on the linkages between the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of the country’s development agenda.

Adopted in New York in September last year, SDGs have become a foundation on which governments are anchoring their sustainability actions. However public sensitization and awareness has been low, prompting the CSOs to brainstorm and chart the way forward.

“Our goal is to carry everyone on board especially youth and rural populations who are ironically the most affected by policy decisions and/or omissions,” said Abel Musumali, Green Enviro Watch Executive Director.

He said “while Africa continues to push certain demands collectively especially on finance and technology transfer, national circumstances as outlined in the NDC have become a key focus area in the implementation stage of the land mark climate agreement.”

Meanwhile, French Ambassador to Zambia, Emmanuel Cohet implored the CSO representatives to work in partnership with one another not only to strengthen their proposals for support from development partners, but also complimenting each other’s capacities in terms of project implementation.

Cohet assured that his government remains committed to aspirations of the global community as espoused in the Paris Agreement to which France played a key role to achieve.

And in amplifying the role of partnerships, Oxfam Zambia Humanitarian Programme Manager, Teddy Kabunda said there is more to be gained when working in synergies.

“We know that government is making a lot of progress but as civil society, we need to do our part by helping to move climate change matters away from being an exclusive subject to the elite, hence our approach to support CSO networks who are more closer to the community,” stressed Kabunda, pointing out that the importance of ordinary people’s involvement to the actualization of the Paris Agreement cannot be overemphasized.

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