Governments have been asked to put laws in place to enable communities’ initiatives take leadership role in conservation efforts.
Ken Kinney, Executive Director Ghana Development Institute, noted that, by enacting laws, the governments would empower communities to focus on energy and food nutrition programmes.
“This will let the communities assume ownership hence diversify concentration in conservation matters,” Kinney said during a press conference in the sidelines of the ongoing Convention of Biodiversity’s (CBD) Conference of Parties in Egypt during the launch of a new briefing paper by the Global Forest Coalition (GFC).
He said that, besides giving incentives to foreign investors in timber and mining sectors, local communities need to be supported fully as the custodian of the natural resources.
Kinney noted that the rate of deforestation has grown high in Africa due to failure to incorporate indigenous people who have indigenous knowledge of conserving the environment.
“The communities should be considered by the government for support to help conserve biodiversity,” he added.
The paper attributed the leading cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss to giving incentives to produce and export meat and animal feed stocks like soy.
It noted that such subsidies must be phased out by 2020 to conserve biodiversity, in line with the Aichi Target 3 (4), while positive incentives should be developed to support alternatives.
Dr. Simone Lovera-Bilderbeek, GFC’s director, noted that European Union’s (EU) imports are directly incentivizing unsustainable meat production that is likely to further increase deforestation.
“There is need for a rapid reduction in meat and dairy consumption and incentives for small scale, localised and ecological sound food production and community conservation initiatives to support biodiversity conservation as an alternative,” she said.
She further said that meat and soy are the top two contributors to deforestation that must be eliminated as a financial and other support for these sectors.
Lovera-Bilderbeek noted that 90 percent of biodiversity are found in the forest hence the need to conserve al forests.
“We require a new and rapid shift towards consuming other foods that are not necessarily meat and dairy products to increase conservation of biodiversity,” she said.
The authors of the paper observed that incentives to produce and export meat and animal feed stocks in major producer countries like Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina are a leading cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss.
They singled out Brazil as one of the countries with the highest deforestation rates on the planet.
Between 2005 and 2015, the Brazilian government invested 3.18 billion dollars in the livestock industry, 90 percent of which went to just three corporations.
According to the paper, in 2017, 48 billion dollars went to agribusiness companies in the form of cheap credit. But in comparison, only 115.6 million dollars was allocated to combatting deforestation and forest degradation.
The study was also done in Tanzania, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
By Duncan Mboyah, Sharm El Sheikh