Mombasa – The transition to a low carbon future in sub-Saharan Africa will be realised once the continent prioritises sustainable management of its vast tropical forests, say scientists.
At a forum in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, the scientists are calling for enhanced protection of Africa's forested landscapes, given the immense role of forests in climate response, poverty alleviation, food and water security.
Godwin Kowero, the executive secretary of the Nairobi-based African Forest Forum, stressed that taming the continent's rapidly-unfolding climate crisis hinged on sound conservation of its equatorial forests, dry-lands and marine ecosystems.
"As the continent grapples with climate change, we need to look at forests as key to the success of mitigation and adaptation efforts," said Kowero, who believes that forests and trees outside the natural forests will not only stabilise climate, but also support livelihoods of rural communities.
Convened by the African Forest Forum, the Mombasa forum will take place in a hybrid format from March 28 to April 1. It brings together senior policymakers, scientists, industry players and green advocates to discuss best practices on integrating the forestry sector in climate action.
Delegates will share experiences on forest-based climate mitigation and adaptation programmes that have worked in different parts of the continent, and how communities are harnessing the resource to transform their livelihoods.
Julius Kamau, the chief conservator at Kenya Forest Service, noted that climatic shocks had escalated in Africa, hence the need to leverage biodiversity hotspots including mangroves swamps and watersheds in order to minimise damage to the livelihoods of rural communities.
According to Kamau, enhanced forest protection will not only boost Africa's quest for carbon neutrality, but also improve the health and economic outcomes of communities bearing the brunt of climate emergencies.
He said the 27th session of the Conference of Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change summit, slated for November 7 to 18 in Egypt, provides an opportunity to raise the visibility of African forest resources and their crucial role in climate resilience.
Fred Owino, a member of the African Forest Forum governing council, said that research and precise data were required to inform the design and execution of forestry-based climate change response in the continent.