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Restoring and preserving dry-land forests can help provide food and fertilizer on small farms and prevent the recurrence of famine in Kenya and other African countries, a research group said.
The destruction of forests and other forms of human-caused land degradation have caused more damage than drought, turning vast areas of once-grazeable and farmable land into near-desert, forestry experts from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
“Deforestation and land degradation have hindered capacities to cope with disasters and adapt to climate variability and change in the long-term,” said Frances Seymour, director general of the group’s Center for International Forestry Research. Research carried out by the center in 25 countries shows that forests serve as an important defense against poverty, providing about a quarter of household income for the people living in and around forest areas.
Famine in the Horn of Africa has put millions of people at risk in Somalia, Kenya and other countries. The United Nations estimates that hundreds of people are dying every day, more than 13 million are at risk, and a third of Somalia’s population has been displaced.
Seymour said that dry-land areas are likely to suffer more frequent and severe droughts as the climate changes, and that protecting and restoring forests in such areas should have a more prominent place in the debate about global warming.