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General News of Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Source: GNA

West Africa's forests are depreciating at an alarming rate- Expert

Accra, Oct. 6, GNA - The continuing erosion of forests in West Africa has been identified as putting pressure on the region's biodiversity, which is home to more than a quarter of Africa's mammals and 1,800 endemic species of plants. "It is pathetic to also note that only 17 per cent of the region's forests are technically under some form of protection, while only three per cent of is conserved for biodiversity purposes." Speaking at the launch of a seminar organised by The Katoomba Group, international forestry conservation oriented non-governmental organisation, Mr. Michael Jenkins, President of the organisation, called for the development of the needed technical expertise in the region to combat the problem.

Mr. Jenkins also called for greater protection for ecosystems such as mangroves and wetlands since they served as buffers during storms and provide critical habitats for other mammals. He bemoaned the alarming rate at which forests in West Africa were seriously depreciating, adding that in the past 15 years the region had lost 1.4 million hectares of primary forest to deforestation. He noted that the planned exploitation of offshore oil reserves threatened the richest biodiversity pool as well as the tourism potential of the country. Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology expressed government's concern about the poor preservation of the nation's forests and efforts to combat climate change.

He bemoaned the high level at which carbon dioxide was emitted into the air and called on financial institutions to emulate Standard Chartered Bank by instituting a fund to combat climate change. In a goodwill message, Senator Liyel Imoke, Governor of the Cross River State in Nigeria expressed worry about the fast depreciation of forests and animal species and called on the participants to come out with workable ideas to change the trend.