African Business – November 1982

An international campaign was launched last month to save the rich tropical forests of Cameroon and to draw attention to the serious nature of forest destruction world-wide.

If the destruction of forests continues at its present rate, the only forest left by the year 2000 will be in central Africa and Brazil.  Three forests in Cameroon, Dja, Pangar-Djerem and Korup, contain a rich variety of plants and animals.  But pressure on these forests, due to timber and mineral exploitation, is increasing.

The Cameroon government is seeking to establish a network of forest parks, at a cost of $3m. Whilst the government will meet a part of the cost, assistance is also being sought from international aid agencies.

Earthlife points out that if the tropical forests continue to disappear at present rates, then there will be the "most profound consequences - both regionally and internationally" 

Consequences of forest disappearance include: loss of wood products and drugs derived from the forest; the rapid deterioration in agricultural productivity, due to accelerated erosion and silting from deforested water-sheds; floods; droughts; reduced soil fertility; and the possibility that large-scale climatic changes will be caused.

The food supplies of nearly 2,000 million people, says Earthlife, are derived from soil and water whose quality depends on tropical forests. As you read this sentence, 50-100 acres of primary tropical forest will have been destroyed. Africa has now lost half its forests; of the vast forest tracks that once covered West Africa, only a few remain.

The major causes of deforestation are the result of demands for food, shelter, fuel and foreign exchange. Earthlife believe that much can be done to relieve existing pressures and improve the productivity of forests

“The technical solutions are largely known," its says, "What is lacking is awareness of the problem and commitment to act"

Cameroon's proposed forest programme would conserve 4,000 square miles of timber, some 10% of the world's rain forest.  Earthlife hope that the film on Korup will help to mobilise resources for the Cameroon programme and become the focus of an international effort to save tropical forests worldwide.

 To promote the Cameroon scheme, a London-based agency called Earthlife has mounted a campaign, which includes a film that took over five years to make.  The film “Korup - an African Rain Forest”, is being shown on British television in early November and then distributed to 70 countries.


Nigel Tuersley