Calls for urgent action against deforestation are multiplying in Mali. Several nature protection NGOs are outraged by the extent of the regression of the vegetation cover. From 1960 to the present day, Mali has lost 82% of its forest reserves.
The appeal launched on June 15, 2020, by the National Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification (GNT), passes for a heartfelt cry. Mali’s forest cover is in agony; total disappearance is imminent. About 500,000 hectares of forest are devastated every year in Mali. This West African country has thus lost exactly 3,686,889 hectares of classified forests (82% of the forest cover) from 1960 to the present day.
“The government and the people of Mali must redouble their efforts to preserve the forests,” says Kanouté Fatoumata Koné, the deputy technical secretary of the the National Working Group on Sustainable Forest Management and Forest Certification. According to her, there is a serious lack of human resources in the area of forest resource protection. “The staff for Water and Forests, all categories combined, is not worth 900 people for the whole country, including administrative staff,” she said during a press conference organised on the occasion of the 21st edition of the Environment Fortnight, an event celebrated from June 5 to 17 each year in Mali.
Between human pressure and drought
Mali’s galloping deforestation is caused by two main factors. On the one hand, there is a Sahelian country, two-thirds (2/3) of which is occupied by the Sahara Desert, and on the other hand, human activities with a forest impact, like agriculture practiced by 80% of the population. According to the managers of the forestry information system (Sifor), Mali’s high deforestation is also explained by the fact that wood and charcoal account for 80% of the population’s energy needs.
Faced with these challenges, the NGO Mali-Folkecenter Nyetaa took the opportunity of the World Day to Combat Desertification, on June 16, 2020, to propose solutions. “It is necessary to make progress towards the strict application of sustainable forest management standards. Forest-related information must be made available to all stakeholders as well as to the population. We must also move towards the establishment of forests for timber. On the research and training side, schools must be supported for quality training. Finally, forest actors must be well identified in order to move towards public-private cooperation in sustainable forest management,” said Ibrahim Togola, PCA of Mali-Folkecenter Nyetaa.