The Guardian
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‘Human-induced factors cause biodiversity decline in Africa’


THE ongoing loss of biodiversity in Africa is driven by a combination of human-induced factors, including a rising demand for and consumption of natural resources and pollution created by urbanization and industrialization.

   Some 6,419 animals and 3,148 plants in Africa were listed as facing extinction in 2014, a clear sign of the continuing decline of biodiversity on the continent that is driven largely by human-induced factors, according to a preview of a new report presented Tuesday in Cairo.

  The State of Biodiversity in Africa, which will be released in its entirety later this year, was presented to African leaders and policy makers by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre at a side event during the 15th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).

The presentation coincided with World Wildlife Day, a global United Nations observance highlighting the many threats to species across the globe.

  The second edition of the State of Biodiversity in Africa is a mid-term review of progress towards implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets for African countries.

   Threatened animals include iconic African species such as rhinos, elephants, gorillas and lemurs, often targeted by poachers to supply the illegal trade in wildlife. Moist and seasonally dry forests and wetland habitats have all declined significantly over the past 20 years, with the declines typically being in the range of 1 per cent loss per annum.

  The ongoing loss of biodiversity in Africa is driven by a combination of human-induced factors. The population of Africa surpassed one billion people in 2009, and the rate is growing at 2.3 percent per year during 2010-2015.

   Africa contains the highest percentage of developing countries on earth, and demand for and consumption of natural resources collectively results in land use change, overexploitation and overharvesting of species, legal and illegal logging, illegal hunting, and pollution created by urbanization and industrialization.

  Africa’s freshwater ecosystems and forests are under serious threat, the report finds. Biodiversity degradation in freshwater ecosystems is mainly focused in East Africa’s Lake Victoria, Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Morocco, and other major African rivers.

  Over three million hectares of forest are lost each year due to the conversion of agricultural lands to meet food needs and the international demand for biofuels.

However, African countries have taken various measures to address biodiversity loss and promote economic development.

    As of February 2015, 25 African Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have ratified or acceded to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

Forty-seven African Parties have submitted at least one National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Nineteen African countries have surpassed the first component of Target 11 on Protected Areas (17 percent coverage of terrestrial protected areas).

African countries have also shown leadership in collaborating with neighbouring countries in addressing biodiversity loss to achieve the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Such collaborative actions include launching the African 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, demarcation of trans-boundary protected areas, such as the Sangha Tri-National – Landscape and trans-boundary conservation measures such as the Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of the Cross River Gorilla.

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