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2011 is the International Year of the Forest: let's celebrate it with Augustin’s Ecoparc!

Posted 15.07.2011 - View comments

Can’t see the forests for the trees? To some, the disappearance of forests may hardly seem important, could even be confused with development, but seen from a global perspective …

Forests cover nearly 30% of the world’s visible land. A reservoir of oxygen for humans and a habitat for flora and faune, 2/3 of the world’s animals and plants inhabit their interiors. In Senegal, forests take multiple forms: savanna, mangrove, endemic and tropical forests in Casamance, the savanna forests of Ferlo in the North. A natural legacy passed from one generation to the next, forests represent important economic and social livelihoods, and are shelters of biodiversity and reservoirs of medicinal plants. In Wolof (the national language of Senegal), the word “garab” means both tree and medicine. Symbolically and culturally, the power of forests is undeniable; for the Diola ethnic group in the South, certain wood are considered sacred and it is forbidden to cut such trees. For ethnic Peul herders in the North, trees represent at once, sky, earth, fire and water; they are the most complete living species after man.

Despite this, every day over 350 km2 of forests are destroyed in the world. Based on the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, from 2005-2010, in Senegal alone, the rate of forest loss is estimated at 40,000 hectares a year! That’s two times the size of the Fontainebleau forest and more than 55,000 football fields! The reasons for such destruction are numerous but are always due to human encroachment: wood and land clearing for peanut production, overexploitation, and most of all, the illegal production of charcoal and firewood - alone responsible for 50% of forest loss! Similarly, nearly 60% of Senegal’s mangroves have disappeared in the last 25 years.

We must act quickly, both in Senegal and in the world. In 2011, let’s join Augustin and protect our forests! Help Augustin preserving an endemic forest of 32 hectares in Casamance for future generations!

Photos by Jean-François Hellio & Nicolas Van Ingen 2011