As delegates assembled at Glasgow Scotland from the 31st of October to the 12th of November 2021, the whole world lifted their eyes and hopes with great anticipation. “Most probably, one of the globe’s worst challenges, deforestation, would be addressed,” many people thought.
As world leaders converged in this prestigious conference, the health of the planet in its entirety was assessed. From one plenary session to the other, keynote speeches and resounding research reports, the whole world was made to understand that climate change was taking the globe by a sweep. Something needed to be done, and it needed to be done fast.
Five years ago, a similar conference held in Paris had the world leaders sign the Paris Agreement whose main aim was to limit global warming to less than 1. 5 degrees Celsius by 2030. Two interventions were to be undertaken with urgency.
Firstly, each member was to minimize as much as possible its greenhouse emissions. Green energy was recommended for the highly industrializing countries as fossil fuels were the greatest contributors to global warming.
Secondly, the next intervention strategy was to increase forest cover as agreed upon by each stakeholder. For instance, Kenya was to increase its vegetation cover to at least 10%. Kenya’s current forest cover is hardly 6%. By the time Glasgow COP26 was happening, no significant strides had been made by most member states.
Conversely, the already existing vegetation cover was faced with more serious challenges such as wildfires due to increased global temperatures and human-bred deforestation originating from increased population pressure among other factors. There was a need to face the bull by its horns. Deforestation needed urgent address as the members concerted their efforts to increase vegetation cover. You could be asking, “Why is ending deforestation necessary?” I will respond in the simplest way possible, in two ways.
Firstly, it will save biodiversity because when forests are destroyed, not only trees are affected but animals, micro-organisms and birds. Their homes are destroyed. For example, the most recent Amazon Fire led to the destruction of more than 1billion wild animals without mentioning micro-organisms and birds.
Secondly, it will accelerate the achievement of the increased forest cover that the planet so needs for its sustainability. Our rivers and land need to be restored and or rehabilitated. In some countries, the deforestation rate has been higher than the rate afforestation and reforestation has been happening.
With this understanding, the world must respond in small and big ways to halt deforestation while at the same time increasing afforestation and reforestation activities.