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Forests key in fighting poverty – University Don

By Christine Ochogo, November 18, 2020- christawine@gmail.com

African governments have been urged to protect forests as they are key in poverty eradication.

According to Dr Gillian Kabwe, a senior lecturer at Copperbelt University, Kitwe, Zambia authorities must fight overexploitation of these natural resources in a bid to fight deforestation often fuelled by the vicious cycle of poverty.

“Deforestation plays two roles, on one hand it helps in eradication of poverty among dependent communities in food and income generation like charcoal burning, firewood among others but on the other hand  forests are being destroyed  to clear land for agriculture, ranching and development, unsustainable logging for timber. All these human activities among others in the long run contribute to nature decline,” added Dr Kabwe.

The university done was speaking during the Fourth African Conference of Science Journalists organized by Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA).

She added that a recently released global assessment report by International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), 2020 on Forests, Trees and the Eradication of Poverty: Potential and Limitations had found out that today forests contribute to about 25 per cent of household income for the poor.

Dr Kabwe told the conference that poverty is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and globally with one out of every 10 people living in extreme poverty.

While presenting at the virtual conference that brought on board scientists, experts and journalists from across Africa continent, the don added that poverty eradication has found a place at the top of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Most people living in the rural areas are disadvantaged on issues of value addition on forest products even though key forest resources are known by local communities, acquiring license is almost impossible and therefore they cannot properly trade on product like timber, charcoal, these among other challenges,” she observed.

She regretted that women are often most impacted by poverty and forest loss therefore it would be important that they be integrated in programs of engagement on issues of community based forest management.

“In the rural setups women are endowed with knowledge about beneficial forest resources as they are the ones who provide for everyday family needs, they fetch firewood, fetch water, do cultivation and therefore they understand forest issues well enough,” stressed Dr Kabwe adding that it is important to create a platform for them to express themselves.

She asked journalists to be objective in reporting forestry and poverty issues by highlighting regularly issues regarding policies and regulations on the use of forest products, promote contribution of forests in poverty reduction and amplify existing information on the value of forest resources and their potential.

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