Climate Change affecting agriculture, wildlife in Africa – Rainforest Alliance

Mazino Dickson, Abuja

Experts have warned that climate change is impacting badly on Africa’s agricultural sector and wildlife, which if unchecked, could lead to an unprecedented damage to the continent’s biodiversity and ecosystem.

The Communications & Media Outreach Associate of Rainforest Alliance (USA), Brittany Wienke, made this disclosure in an exclusive interview with Voice of Nigeria (VON).

Ms. Wienke observed that Climate change meant farmers are contending with hotter temperatures, unpredictable rainfall, shifting seasons, and exacerbated droughts.

Farmers may also be dealing with increased incidence of pests and diseases, soil depletion, deforestation, and desertification; All this adds up to a great challenge: keeping crop yields up, and making ends meet for farming families and communities,” she said. “The ravaging effects of climate change has led to increased temperatures and unpredictable rains.”

Wildlife

Brittany Wieke revealed that plants and animals may have a harder time reproducing.

A wild gazelle in Yankari games reserve in Bauchi, Nigeria

Deforestation equates to habitat loss for animals, and a loss of valuable plants that can be used for medicine, food, or fibers. Forest loss exacerbates the effects of climate change, as well—without tree cover, soils and air lose moisture, erosion can change the course and levels of water ways, and local micro-climates change,” she affirmed.

She however told VON that it is possible to retain forests while sustaining human and animal populations.

In certain areas of the rainforest belt, such as the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Peten region of Guatemala, humans and wildlife live in such balance.”

Biodiversity

Research findings by the Rainfall Alliance indicate that Forests are ecological powerhouses, home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, maintaining the balance of marvelously efficient ecosystems.

A view of rainforest from Cross River State, Nigeria

Nigeria, blessed with one of the richest biodiversities in the world, has faced the twin challenge of preserving its rainforest, while at the same time meeting the demands for infrastructural demands and expansion.

Ms. Wieke believes a viable approach should be adopted by the Federal government.

Sustainable land use encompasses many different ways humans can interact with a landscape in a responsible fashion. Community-based forestry is one way; giving people who live in the forest the keys to managing it, while permitting sustainable and controlled harvests of products from the forest. This helps people recognize the long-term economic gains forests represent, and discourages development,” she suggests.

Helping farmers increase their yields on already-existing agricultural land is another way to keep forests standing. This method helps prevent deforestation from agricultural expansion, especially for crops like cocoa and coffee, which do very well in forest ecosystems. Focusing on good urban planning is another way prevent suburban sprawl and development, which can potentially encroach on rainforests.