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African Forestry & Wildlife Week: What you Need to Know

09 March 2021

Nature conservation is very important to South Africa with our rich diversity of both animal and plant life across the country. According to a study conducted by The International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2018, there are 281 species in South Africa that are on the Red List, i.e.: critically endangered.

Every animal and plant species have their own contribution to life as we know it in South Africa which is why South Africa is one of the countries who keenly support African Forestry and Wildlife Week.

In fact, South Africa played host to the convention last year.

About the AFWC

The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) was established in 1959 and is one of six forestry commissions established by the Food and Agriculture Organisations of the United Nations (FAO).

The purpose of this commission is to provide a forum for countries to discuss forest issues on a regional basis and does so every two years.

The FAO encourages the broad participation of government forestry officials from all over the world to join in on the forum of discussion to resolve issues surrounding forestry and wildlife.

The objectives of the forum include:

South African and AFWC

In March 2020, South African played host to the 22nd sessions of the AFWC which was held at the Kruger National Park in Skukuza, Mpumalanga from the 9th to the 13th of March 2020.

The theme of the convention was “Forests and Wildlife: Africa’s diversity for shared prosperity and security” and was purposefully selected to highlight the rich diversity of Africa’s resources as well as key factors including nutrition, water-energy-food security, economic prosperity and job opportunities.

This forum is also used as a platform to showcase current progress in the African forestry and wildlife sectors since the previous meeting and to learn from the experience and advisement of other forestry and wildlife sectors.

Deputy Minister Sotyu addressed the convention explaining how forests and trees are vitally sustainable for development.

“1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods, many of whom are the world’s poorest”, said Sotyu.

Over 20% of Africa’s landmass is covered by forests and trees which are all essential for service creation, product development and renewable energy among other factors.

As highlighted by the Paris Climate agreement in 2015, forests and trees help to reduce the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. This is because they act like carbon sinks absorbing the carbon dioxide and turning it into clean oxygen.

However, continued deforestation is one of the leading causes of climate change with trees being unable to reduce the emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

So what is the answer?

Forest Conservation

Protecting the forests in the world should be one of the first priorities in our battle against global warming and climate change. As explained above, our forests act as excellent filters against carbon dioxide pollution and, without them, the results could be catastrophic.

But, the good news is, that there are ways that the average person can help to prevent deforestation.

1. Use less paper

Think about the paper trail that you leave behind every day from printing emails, to printing out meeting information brochures and everything in between. Try to print less or, if there is anything that you need to print, be sure to use both sides of the paper when doing so.

2. Go digital

The other alternate is going digital. Modern technology allows endless ways to access digital information – whether you are using a Smartphone, laptop or Tablet, you are constantly connected to the web in some way.

This can be used to your advantage in meetings or work situations – instead of printing out pages, as mentioned above, utilise other means like Google Sheets to collaborate and share important data.

3. Read online

Most newspapers and magazines are readily available online. More often than not, we read a newspaper/magazine and toss it out or leave it to gather dust. If this is the case, why not just read online?

You can subscribe to your favourite newspaper or magazine online, read any time of the day and do some good for the environment too!

4. Plant trees

Reforestation programs across the world believe that for every tree that is cut down, another should be planted. Become a part of, or start, your very own reforestation programme in your community by encouraging people to plant trees!

5. Buy secondhand furniture

If you are looking for a new wardrobe or desk for the study, start by shopping around local secondhand stores! Not only could you find some really great antiques but you can also help to reduce the number of trees that are cut down to build new furniture.

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Conventions like the AFWC are essential to the conservation of the forests on our planet but they need us to help by doing our part.

Organisations like the World Wildlife Fund are equally as important for the conservation of wildlife. Click here if you would like to donate to the WWF today.

Know of some other wildlife or forestry conservation groups? Share their name in the comments on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages to help others save our planet.

Together we can make a difference.