SEVERAL studies globally have painted a picture where humans have destroyed a tenth of Earth’s remaining wilderness in the last 25 years, and there may be none left within a century if the trends continue in our lifetime.
Narrowing this home, on 28th June last year, an alarm to the public was sounded on the effect that Blackwood and African mahogany trees are on the verge of extinction, attributing the threat to over-dependency on forest products.
Speaking in Dodoma in May, this year during the meeting that embraced professionals from Tanzania Forest Services (TFS), Agency and other stakeholders from public and private sectors, Mr Deosdedit Bwoyo, who represented the director of Forestry and Fisheries, said population growth was also behind the phenomenon.
The expert in forestry told participants, including individuals engaging in carpentry and furniture trade, that it was high time they turned to other alternative trees such as teaks.
“Tanzanians are very fond of using Blackwood and African mahogany trees but it takes over 70 years for the former to grow, and we have not put in place a good plan to preserve these trees that are now diminishing. We must take deliberate action,” said Mr Bwoyo.
Without any policies to protect these areas, it is unfortunate that despite being strongholds for imperiled biodiversity, regulating local climates, and sustaining many indigenous communities, wilderness areas are vanishing before our eye, yet they are also homes to various wildlife populations of gorillas and chimpanzees among other animals, we shall have no places to protect the animals, which also earn the country some foreign exchange.
As people living close to these forests, everyone should be acquainted with forest policies, which emphasize sustainable management and utilization of forest products in the sense that all trees must benefit Tanzanians of the coming generations too.
According to the expert, Mr Bwoyo, for several decades, the government established a new timber plant tree in some parts of the country, including Mtibwa in Morogoro which has the same characteristics as Blackwood and African mahogany trees, implying that there is a need to consider switching to this new plant species so that the next generation can see and use both Blackwood and African Mahogany.
We must take action so that these forests, their plants and animals and as human beings, who depend on them, continue to live. Deforestation is in fact considered the second major driver of climate change (more than the entire global transport sector), responsible for 18-25 per cent of global annual carbon dioxide emissions.