According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, indigenous forests in Africa are being felled at a rate of about 3.4 million hectares per year, the second highest in the world for this past decade.
These forests are key in helping absorb carbon emissions and thus reducing climate change and unstable weather conditions, while also serving as importing watersheds, wildlife habitats, and protection against soil erosion.
As an example of the losses being incurred, the country of Nigeria, which in 1976 was covered by 23 million hectares of forest, has been losing about 400,000 hectares annually and today has only 9.6 million left.
Reasons for deforestation include lands being cleared for livestock grazing and other agriculture as well as logging for timber and firewood. In an effort to offset these losses, initiatives have been launched by groups such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, which has been working to plant trees and raise awareness about the benefits of forest conservation.
One team has raised over 15,000 seedlings from 33 different species since February 2010 in Nigeria alone, scheduled for planting in 2011.
Our grateful thanks, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and all others striving to halt these alarming losses and revitalize the African forests. Let us rapidly join such efforts to help restore the balance of life across the continent of Africa and the world.
During a May 2009 videoconference in Togo, Supreme Master Ching Hai highlighted the significant environmental impacts of our actions, as she offered the most sustainable solution to protecting the precious trees and, in turn, our planet.