Lack of reliable national seed banks and trained forest experts and labs are among the reasons why sub-Saharan Africa cannot meet its tree cover target, experts say.
“Our capacity in Africa to supply tree seeds and seedlings, or germplasm for afforestation and reforestation activities to contain deforestation is greatly lacking,” said Godwin Kowero, the executive secretary of the African Forest Forum (AFF). “We also have a widespread lack of trained personnel and laboratory facilities in many countries to handle these issues. Little attention given to the genetic improvement of trees,”
He was speaking at a recent workshop for forest stakeholders from sub-Saharan Africa that was organised by AFF, a pan-African forestry institution based in Nairobi.
The forum discussed sharing information and experiences on challenges and opportunities in forest management for sustainable development in Africa in the context of climate change.
In recent decades, forest systems on the continent have suffered from the loss of agrobiodiversity as local tree species and varieties are replaced by exotic ones. Kowero said most of the seeds and seedlings were being moved around under wanting phytosanitary regimes all over the continent.
Kenya’s Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau said, “Our vulnerability to climate change is a serious threat to our prosperity.”
He added that the stability of the environment in Africa and resources like water and fodder for livestock and wildlife, and human consumption and agricultural production are compromised.
He said studies such as those carried out by AFF are important to help Africa understand how climate change relates to Africa’s forest resources.