Habitat Loss

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How can we even try to save the chimpanzees and forests if the people are so obviously struggling to survive? – Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE

Africa lost 3.4 million hectares of its forested area between 2000 and 2010 (FAO Global Resources Assessment 2010). Much of this loss occurred within the chimpanzee range, including the equatorial forest belt, which now consists largely of isolated forest patches. This loss of suitable habitat is one of the greatest threats to the long-term survival of chimpanzees and other great apes. As their habitat disappears, some chimpanzees are able to move into more arid areas, such as southwest Tanzania and Senegal. However, the movement of chimpanzees is not a long-term solution for the survival of the species.

Global demand for forest and extractive industry products are growing as competition for Africa’s natural resources is at an all-time high. Meanwhile, increasing population growth combined with poverty leads local communities to use forest resources in unsustainable ways in order to meet their basic needs. Conversion of land for intensive agriculture, shifting cultivation, poaching and the bushmeat trade, together with unsustainable illegal industrial and informal logging, mining, and oil extraction all reduce forest cover and destroy biodiversity.

To be effective, forest and species conservation must address the deeply rooted human problems associated with poverty. JGI’s community-centered conservation approach provides local communities with the tools needed to manage their natural resources for long-term economic gain and environmental sustainability. To see a video about deforestation in Africa click here.