Deforestation Presentation

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.

There has been a lot of upheaval lately in Guinea, the last country I visited. Last year the president died after a long illness. Within a few hours his corrupt regime was replaced by a group of young army officers. They promised to end corruption and restore democracy. The leader of the group, Captain Camara, promised he wouldn’t run for president. Now he has changed his mind. Recently his soldiers slaughtered and raped protesters at the national stadium. Here are articles from the New York Times and the BBC. Guinea should be a prosperous and happy country with all the resources at its disposal. I hope this situation can be resolved soon.

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!

Finally, I was at the Soc. of American Foresters Convention last week. The Peace Corps said that they had many more openings in forestry and natural resources than they do volunteers. This is an excellent way to jumpstart your career. I highly recommend it.

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