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Conservation of forests set to get a push increase efforts in conserving forests

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Issue date: 
14 March 2011
Publisher Name: 
The Citizen
Zephania Ubwani
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Deforestation and forest degradation have been blamed for increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other green house gases.An environmental expert with the Vice President's Office (VPO), Mr Patrick Ndaki, said in Arusha last week that forest conservation would be given priority in efforts to mitigate climate change.

"This is because forests are major stocks for carbon. Existing forest reserves must be conserved,” he said.
He was briefing environmental stakeholders on how Tanzania was implementing the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) programme.

In 2005 the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) agreed that the programme be part of the protocol now implemented by several African countries. Experts contend that mitigation efforts for implementation of REDD must evolve around forest conservation and reforestation.

Forest destruction is said to account for 18 to 20 per cent of the current global carbon emissions, with Africa contributing 3.8 per cent of them. Mr Ndaki said implementation of the programme would go alongside sustainable management of the forests.

He added that forest conservation was the most cost-effective method of addressing climate challenges for developing countries. At the institutional level the government would establish the National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS-T). Also to be set up is the National REDD Trust Fund and the National Carbon Monitoring Centre (NCMC), he explained.

Another government official observed that shrinking lakes and rising sea levels were among major impacts of climate change in Tanzania.  While water levels on Lake Victoria are reported to have decreased by 2.57 metres between 1965 and 2006, Lake Rukwa has shrunk by seven kilometres in the last 50 years.

A senior official of the Arusha regional administration, Mr Twarieli Mchome, made these remarks when he addressed officials from northern zone regions. He said latest observations indicated that the water level at the largest fresh water lake shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya had fallen from 1,134.26 to 1,131.69 metres above the mean sea level from 1965 to 2006.

He said the situation was not better on the sea as two islands have already disappeared along the country's coast while others are threatened to do so. The impact is more pronounced on the Bagamoyo and Pangani coastline, he told stakeholders drawn from public and private institutions as well as non-governmental organisations.

The regional official said malaria outbreaks in highland areas, floods and recurring droughts were also among symptoms of climate change impacts in Tanzania.He said Tanzania would promote carbon trading using its extensive forests and protected areas that cover nearly a quarter of the country's land surface.

An assistant director in the Vice President's Office, Mr Richard Muyungi, said the government would soon start implementing the National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change (NAPA). Other programmes lined up for implementation are those for conserving lakes and water sources as well as capacity building in climate change mitigation.

He added that the government has earmarked projects that will be implemented at the grassroots in Coast and Tanga regions as well as Zanzibar. Various coastal areas in Tanzania, including Tanga and Coast regions, are threatened by a rise in the sea level. The projects will cover Pangani, Bagamoyo and Rufiji districts apart from Zanzibar.

Quoting the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in 2007, the official said world temperatures rose by 0.74 Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere nearly doubled to 400 ppm (parts per million) from 280 ppm about 200 years ago.

"Between 1970 and 2004 the green house gas accumulation in the atmosphere increased by 70 per cent,” he said.
The accumulation of carbon dioxide, one of the green house gases, rose by 80 per cent during the period, the official added.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut