15 June 2017

Tanzania: Your Business Is Our Business - Reforestation: Thinking Out of the Box for Once

Photo: Daily Monitor
Deforestation is worsening climate change (file photo).
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The term 'Environment' conjures up a bazillion thingamajigs that include 'the objects, circumstances and conditions by which one is surrounded.' At a more scientific level: an Environment is the 'complex of climatic, edaphic (soil; autochthonous) and biotic factors that act upon an organism, or an ecological community - and, ultimately, determine its form and survival!'

In My Book of Things, crucial here's that a given Environment determines the 'FORM' and 'SURVIVAL' of a given ecological community.

On June 5 this year, Mankind marked the 43rd 'World Environment Day' (WED) in an annual series. This has become a ritual of sorts conceived on the back of the UN Conference on Human Environment, the first international conference on environmental issues held in Stockholm,

Sweden, June 5-16, 1972.

WED commemmoration started at the international level in Spokane City, USA, on June 5, 1974, during the Expo'74, with the theme 'Only ONE Earth!'

Thereafter, WED has unfailingly been observed worldwide to address such issues as Climate Change (desertification, global warming, ozone layer depletion, pollution, etc); over-grazing; afforestation; poaching and other wildlife-related crimes...

This year, WED was hosted by Canada, with the theme 'Connecting People to Nature' - 'inviting people to enjoy the outdoors, change negative consumption habits, and take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share!'

Oh, I don't know much about 'Connecting People to Nature,' as People and Nature seem to be mutually-destructive! Anyway, the World Environmental Day stratagem is supposed to play a pivotal role in 'driving change in our consumption habits, as well as influencing national and international policy...'

However, that notwithstanding - or, perhaps as part of the stratagem - we're told Canada offered 'free entry to its national parks and marine conservation areas...' And - perhaps for fear of being outdone in the environmental awareness stakes - Tanzania also offered free entry to some of its tourist attraction sites to 'domestic' tourists... Kudos to that, I say!

Indeed, Tanzania this time round seems to've gone the proverbial extra mile!

On the eve (June 4, 2017) of the Environmental Day - marked nationally in Butiama District, birthplace of the Founder of Tanzanian Nationalism and iconic African leader, the late Mwalimu Julius K Nyerere (1922-99) - the country's Vice-President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, breathed fire and brimstone at mining and other industries that unduly pollute the environment! [The Citizen, et al: June 5, 2017].

Arguably, Mankind is his own worst enemy when its comes to protecting the Environment - especially considering that the latter 'determines the form and survival of Mankind (every which way) as an ecological community!'

Take, for instance, the seemingly-endless destruction of (natural) forests in pursuance of human activities, regardless of the related dire consequences. In Tanzania alone, nearly 400,000 acres of forested land are cleared annually for charcoal production alone! That's to say nothing about the other bazillion acres cleared of trees for 'common-garden' firewood; construction; to free land for crop-farming; illegal exports...

That's one surefire-way of environmental degradation... And, simply (going through the motions of) banning 'illegal' tree-felling has been an exerise in futility!

One surefire-way of preserving the Environment is afforestation. But, frantic calls for reforestation through tree-planting isn't working that well; roughly 1,000-out-of-every-one-million newly-planted trees survive to maturity!

Indeed, it's been demonstrated that, in tree-felling, leaving the stump in the soil to regrow is one surefire-way of effective reforestration with a greater success rate than by planting (new/fresh) seedlings!

But, all that calls for thinking out of the box. Fortunately, that's been done for us through the ongoing Switzerland-backed 'Transforming Tanzania's Charcoal Sector Project' in Morogoro Region to 'establish commercially-viable value-chain for legal, sustainably-produced charcoal... This has climate change implications, as sequestration capacity is reduced by harvesting rates that exceed sustainable yield...'

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