By Nachilala Nkombo | @Nachilala | WWW Zambia
Nachilala Nkombo is the Country Director for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Zambia
Nearly a quarter of Africa’s land is covered by forest. Zambia is fast losing its forest to deforestation. Sub-Saharan African countries consume fuelwood up to 200 percent times more than the trees’ annual growth rates. Hence, causing deforestation, lack of timber resources, and habitat loss for the species living in it.
Many are waking up to the reality that we are in a nature crisis, and it is abundantly clear that nature affects every aspect of our lives. For example, if you have experienced a dry borehole or seen a dry river, you have experienced a nature crisis.
Nature is a crucial capital for all households and enterprises to thrive and achieve their goals. Every company’s business proposition is linked to the power of nature. Nature provides us with the essentials we all rely on for our survival and well-being, including freshwater, clean air, and a healthy balance of wildlife. Many rural communities earn a living, and countries rely on tourism revenues that support the state.
According to the World Economic Forum, nature provides us today with an estimated 44 trillion dollars’ worth of economic activity or GDP. The drastic loss of nature currently happening is a considerable risk to us as the global population if we turn a blind eye. This situation requires urgent action not only by state parties everywhere but by companies and individuals at all levels.
Over the years, we have experienced the continuing loss and degradation of nature, which threatens the well-being and, ultimately, humanity’s survival. According to the WWF 2020 Living Planet report, 68% of the world’s wildlife population has declined over the last forty years.
In Zambia, where major economic activities such as agriculture, manufacturing, and energy directly depend on nature, most rivers are either drying, polluted, or degraded from being useful without costs of cleaning and restoration. Uncontrolled harvesting of trees from forests affects the water cycle, directly contributing to the depletion of underground water, reducing the country’s food, water, and energy security. These factors, left unchecked, will ultimately create a desert.
Zambia’s freshwater bodies support fish production, an essential occupation in rural Zambia, with about 25 000 artisanal fishers and 30 000 others active in fish processing and trading, all estimated to derive their livelihood fishing directly. Estimates are that the fisheries sub-sector supports around 1,000,000 people in Zambia.
Every year, Zambia consumes more than 4 million tons of charcoal, putting a strain on forests. This large-scale loss of forest has contributed to the impacts of climate change (droughts and floods) that are too expensive to bear.
Between 1970 and 2010, the world’s wildlife population decreased by approximately 52 percent while the global human population more than doubled. Wildlife is a crucial aspect of tourism for many countries, including Zambia, where the indigenous Black Rhino went extinct. The elephant population has dropped from over 200,000 in the 70s to less than 27,000 today. Suffice to say, and our nature cannot recharge if we do not stop the nature crisis.
The loss of nature is an issue of environmental loss and developmental, economic, security, social and cultural losses. As such, the World-Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, through a campaign called the New Deal for Nature and People, is mobilizing communities, businesses, traditional leaders, and governments to act as part of this global campaign to stop the rapid loss of nature.
There is evidence that nature-based solutions can provide over 30 percent of the action needed by 2030 to avert dangerous climate change and, by extension, nature loss.
A New Deal for Nature?
The New Deal for Nature and People (ND4NP) seeks to protect and restore nature for the benefit of people and the planet – proposing no more loss of natural spaces or extinctions and the negative impacts of unsustainable production and consumption.
This is done to provide enough food and water for a global population that will grow to nine billion people in coming decades and supports efforts to create a stable climate and prevent wildlife’s mass extinction. WWF believes we cannot feed the current population by killing the earth we depend on.
We are using nature at a rate much higher than it can replenish itself. Overall, the loss of nature will reduce productivity and hurt our economy more.