The Africa Section Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) has called on African governments to formulate effective policies to support ecological sustainability of African equatorial forests to prevent long-term impoverishment of Africans.
The group, which is a global professional body dedicated to promoting scientific study of the maintenance, loss, and restoration of biological diversity said there was a growing appreciation of the links between ecosystem alteration and human health.
A statement copied to the Ghana News Agency and signed by Mr Stephen Mufutau Awoyemi, President of SCB explained that research had proved that fragmenting forests increases exposure of humans to these diseases.
It said monetary contributions of forests to the economics of the developing world officially exceed $US 250 billion–easily more than double the flow of total development assistance and more than the annual global output of gold and silver combined.
The statement said the biodiversity of African countries such as Ghana’s forest resources played a large role in income generation on household food security with forestry products providing sustenance and revenue for about 2.5 million people.
It said forest biodiversity such as great apes were of economic importance given their contribution through tourism, education and scientific research.
The statement said recent significant investments in West and Central Africa agriculture in the oil palm industry were likely to lead to biodiversity losses similar to those in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia was projected to lose most of its natural rainforest by 2022 and oil palm production would cause natural forest cover loss and lead to direct mortality of endangered species, such as the world’s forest primates in Southeast Asia.
“Oil palm has become one of the most rapidly expanding equatorial crops in the world. The global extent of oil palm cultivation increased from 3.6 million hectors in 1961 to 13.2 million ha in 2006,” it said.
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