The governments of Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda signed the Zanzibar Declaration at the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, this week. The declaration aims to curb illegal trade in timber in Eastern and Southern Africa countries and to encourage member states to promote cooperation among their national forest agencies in information and intelligence sharing. Additionally, the declaration requests that member states implement bans on log exports and create monitoring and reporting systems for their timber industries.
Namibia and several other African countries have denounced bans on the transportation of wildlife trophies that various airlines instituted following international outrage sparked by a recent, high-profile lion kill. Namibian Minister of the Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said that the bans will actually hurt conservation efforts in her country. There are over 80 conservation organizations in Namibia that depend on funding from trophy hunts. Shifeta cautioned that diverting resources from these groups could cause more harm to local wildlife than the hunts themselves.
Royal Dutch Shell and residents of the Bodo community in the Niger Delta have reached an $84 million settlement agreement for the harm caused by two oil spills in 2008 and 2009. Both spills came from the Trans Niger Pipeline and together affected thousands of hectares of mangrove in the region. The settlement comes after three years of litigation and also imposes cleanup requirements on Shell.
In a commitment made at the UN Climate Change Summit in New York last month, the government of Ethiopia has pledged to restore 15 million hectares of degraded land—one sixth of the country. At the climate summit, “governments, companies and civil society groups together agreed to try to restore 350m hectares of deforested landscapes—an area the size of India—by 2030.” The commitment by Ethiopia was the largest of these.
On September 23, the governments of Liberia and Norway announced that they had entered into a deal under which Liberia will become the first nation to completely halt deforestation in exchange for Norwegian development aid. Norway has agreed to pay $150 million in exchange for the halting of deforestation in Liberia by 2020. The deal was announced at the UN Climate Summit in New York. While Liberia’s forests are not as large as other countries’, its forests represent a significant part of the remaining rainforest in West Africa and are a global biodiversity hotspot.
A recent Green Alliance report suggests that renewable energy may be the key to development in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the study, the lack of existing energy infrastructure is an impediment to economic growth in a region with 41% of the world’s energy-poor people and where 65% of primary schools and 30% of health centers have no access to electricity.