Africa consumes a tiny fraction of the world's fossil fuels, yet it is predicted to shoulder far more than its share of the negative impacts of climate change. Between its size, vast natural resources, and unique weather patterns, the continent is especially susceptible to the effects of rising temperatures.
Without comprehensive measures to understand and address the impacts of climate change, the well-being of both Africa’s wildlife and its people are in jeopardy.
Climate change impacts our planet’s weather patterns, affecting everything from the global economy to food security to our physical safety. What’s more, greenhouse gases are hazardous to our health. Humanity created this phenomenon, and it’s up to us to address its effects and prevent further damage.
Africa is home to just 17% of the world’s forests, yet deforestation on the continent is estimated to be four times the global average—and the pace is accelerating. Practices like rapid deforestation combined with excessive greenhouse gas emissions from around the world are all contributing to climate change. Rising temperatures are having a catastrophic impact on the people of Africa, resulting in unreliable farming seasons, low water supplies, increased droughts, severe heat waves, heavy storms, and flooding.
Part of the challenge in addressing climate change is that it can be a difficult concept to understand. Even once people understand the threats climate change poses, it is hard to get individuals, businesses, countries, and communities to change their behavior and adopt new habits, such as using eco-friendly cook stoves that require less wood than traditional cooking methods.
The effects of climate change permeate every aspect of life in Africa and, therefore, affect all components of the work we do at African Wildlife Foundation. We must try to mitigate and help communities adapt to the effects of climate change in all the landscapes and habitats in which we work, or Africa’s wildlife—and its people—simply won’t stand a chance in the future.
Preserving Africa’s rich forests and incredibly biodiverse ecosystems are critical to the solution. So is getting people to buy into new, more sustainable practices. AWF continuously adapts and improves our conservation planning, resource management, and livelihood strategies to strengthen the resilience of Africa’s people, its ecosystems, and its wildlife to climate change.
Here are some things AWF does to combat the effects of climate change:
AWF encourages land conservation and forest management by arranging carbon payments through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) “plus” conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. By providing monetary incentives for communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and preserve forests, REDD+ connects environmental stewardship to people’s livelihoods.
Through projects like our REDD+ initiative in the Kolo Hills Forests of Tanzania, we show communities firsthand how their actions can help with conservation. In the Kolo Hills, AWF has helped villages develop land-use plans and proposals for government forest reserves, in addition to training farmers in sustainable agricultural practices, resulting in an eightfold increase in crop yields.
To help conserve forests and biodiversity, AWF promotes sustainable technologies like the jiko, a stove designed to burn charcoal more efficiently. Plus, the charcoal can be made from just tree trimmings or branches. In the Kilimanjaro Heartland, AWF funded the town of Kimana’s first-ever jiko shop. Orders started coming in immediately, showing that Africans recognize the stoves are not only eco-friendly, but also cost-effective. Through increased energy savings, jikos generally pay for themselves within a year.
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