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September : Africa’s first World Forestry Congress underway

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8 September, 2015

Africa’s first World Forestry Congress underway

The flag of the United Nations (UN) was raised in Durban‚ South Africa‚ on Monday as the 14th World Forestry Congress got underway with a march by hundreds of fire-fighters.

WFC 2015
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 14th World Forestry Congress.
Image by: BENNY GOOL / Oryx Media

The opening ceremony was addressed by the chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma‚ director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN Jose Graziano da Silva and FAO special ambassador for forests and the environment‚ Prince Laurent of Belgium‚ before South African Minister of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana officially declared the congress open.

Other highlights of the day included the planting of the millionth tree in South Africa's Million Trees Programme‚ an address by South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ and the release by the FAO of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.

The global forests assessment‚ the product of research conducted in 234 countries and territories across the world‚ included some hopeful news about the rate of deforestation over the past 25 years‚ a statement by the secretary-general of the World Forestry Congress Trevor Abrahams said.

The world's forests had continued to shrink as populations increased and more land was turned over to agriculture‚ but the rate of deforestation had slowed down by more than 50% over the period‚ he said.

Dlamini-Zuma said forests and woodlands covered 21% of Africa's land surface. She lamented the fact that ecosystems were being degraded and water security diminished at a more rapid rate in Africa than elsewhere.

Flora and fauna in African forests were under threat‚ including iconic species such as rhinoceros and elephant. Making existing agricultural land more productive would ease the pressure on forests.

Da Silva said the world‚ as a whole‚ had been protecting forests better than before - including in Africa‚ where protected areas had increased faster over the past five years than ever in history.

Ramaphosa said the World Forestry Congress had a weighty and worthwhile agenda. He appealed to delegates to help place forestry on the national agendas of all countries - for the sake of the earth‚ people‚ climate change and water security. Food insecurity was a major contributor to deforestation‚ he said.

Prince Laurent called for an eco contribution from cancelled debts to be allocated to a fund to safeguard the environment.

The World Forestry Congress brought governments‚ non-profit organisations‚ forest industry and forest communities together to seek consensus on important challenges facing forests and the world‚ from climate change to habitat loss and threats to rural livelihoods‚ said Abrahams.

WFC 2015
South African Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries General Bheki Cele, South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana, Chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN Jose Graziano da Silva with the an award presented by the FAO to South Africa for managing malnutrition since 1990.
Image by: BENNY GOOL / Oryx Media

RDM News Wire.
Source : www.timeslive.co.za

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