Ecosystems Threatened Across Africa
The greater Kilimanjaro ecosystem is one of the most threatened ecosystems on earth. As the snows, glaciers and rains retreat, millions of lives and the future of nations hang in the balance. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme says that protecting East Africa’s mountain ecosystems would safeguard the region’s $7 billion tourism industry, not to mention the lives of millions of people and iconic endangered species.
“Across the continent, the damage done to these ecosystems is depriving people of the basic building blocks of life,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment agency.
He said Mt. Kilimanjaro was an example of how climate change was severely damaging Africa’s mountains and the people who depend on them. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa, contributes to more than a third of Tanzania’s revenue from tourism but is facing several problems, ranging from shrinking glacier to rampant wild fires. As climate change intensifies, it is essential that governments act swiftly to prevent more harm and more downward momentum. The report urges Tanzania to protect the mountain’s water catchment area by reforestation, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.
The report titled Sustainable Mountain Development in East Africa in a Changing Climate warned that the glaciers are likely to vanish completely within a few decades as a result of climate change if urgent action is not taken. Meanwhile, higher temperatures have increased the number of wildfires, which have destroyed 13,000 hectares of the mountain’s forest since 1976.
NGOs across Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have 15 comprehensive projects planned and ready to defend regional ecosystems, including:
- Forest conservation and reforestation;
- Sustainable agriculture and aquaculture;
- Watershed restoration and protection;
- Solar power can replace wood stoves and improve productivity;
- Community education about wildlife and forest conservation;
- Anti-poaching patrols, habitat restoration and other wildlife conservation strategies;
- Ecotourism; and
- Jobs for men and women, which can help alleviate many economic, health and environmental issues.
For more information about plans to defend ecosystems across East Africa and beyond, please visit the East Africa Plan. We seek sponsors, donors, grants and volunteers. We are adding more projects to benefit local stakeholders and ecosystems around the world. Please join us. Thank you.