Human activity, climate change biggest threat to forest cover

Human activity, climate change biggest threat to forest cover
Illegal logging remains the biggest threat to deforestation. [Courtesy]

The government has promised to take stern action against anyone found destroying the forest.

The warning comes at a time when the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) sounded an alarm over dwindling forest cover in South Sudan.

“Averagely, we look at a forest loss of about 10,000 hectares every year,” said Mashack Oguna Malo, the FAO Country Representative.

A UN report showed that fuelwood and charcoal accounted for over 80 per cent of all wood used in South Sudan.

The report adds that pressure from the effects of climate change, and human activities like commercial and illegal deforestation are some of the major factors affecting forest cover.

The government took seriously these comments with the Ministry for Environment and Forestry saying that will take necessary steps to stop and reverse the destruction.

“We have recently, July or August last year, our President launched 100 million trees in ten years and that is the program we are working on,” Jaden Emilio, Ministry Under-Secretary told The City Review in an interview.

Malo said deforestation needs to be addressed to protect and restore the 650 thousand square, kilometres of forest in the country.

“This is a huge loss for a country that will have a direct impact on the people,” he explained.

Malo says, there is a lot to gain from forest restoration but funding and pressure, from the people, are needed.

“South Sudan can make up a hundred million a year from the forest resource. This is an amount that can go a long way even within the education sector.”

Beyond the economic and environmental value, Malo says trees are built into the culture of South Sudan and that is worth fighting for.

“When you look at traditional ceremonies, marriage, and several event transitions for the youth and the teenagers they are often done in the forest.”

Students, scientists, and government officials who attended the recent World Forestry Congress sounded the alarm, about record levels of destruction and deforestation to global woodland over the past decade.

According to a 2015 report commissioned by the Government of South Sudan and the UN Environment, 88 per cent of households (74 per cent of businesses and 40 per cent of the institutions) depend on charcoal as a source of fuel.

The same report showed that 15 per cent of households (8 per cent of businesses and 40 per cent of institutions) use firewood as a source of fuel to supplement charcoal for cooking.

The mandate interprets into an estimated five million trees being logged annually to supply Juba with the charcoal it consumed.

According to the country’s inaugural State of the Environment Outlook Report, launched in June 2018, fuelwood and charcoal account for over 80 per cent of all wood used in South Sudan, with an annual deforestation rate estimated at between 1.5 and 2 per cent.

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