This afternoon I will be speaking to the Intro to Forestry class on international forestry in what has become an annual event. I will concentrate on problems of deforestation and desertification in the Sahel region of western Africa. Here is a map of places I have worked over the years:
Summarizing up some of the main reasons for deforestation:
- Overgrazing is caused by the farmers’ strategy of letting livestock roam freely as a sort of bank on the hoof.
- Poor agricultural practices that result in soil erosion and loss.
- The emphasis on cash crops, like cotton and peanuts, that require expensive fertilizer input.
- Periodic droughts. These are a normal part of the environment, but with larger populations there is less flexibility in dealing with the problems.
All of these issues can be overcome with the right strategies and technologies that we will discuss during the presentation.
Here is a slide show that illustrates some of these points.
Here are pictures from my visit to Guinea at the end of 2006. I volunteered at an environmental education technical school near Pita. It was great to work in French again!