Restoring and preserving dry-land forests can help provide food and fertilizer on small farms and prevent the recurrence of famine in Kenya and other African countries, a research group said.

The destruction of forests and other forms of human-caused land degradation have caused more damage than drought, turning vast areas of once-grazeable and farmable land into near-desert, forestry experts from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

“Deforestation and land degradation have hindered capacities to cope with disasters and adapt to climate variability and change in the long-term,” said Frances Seymour, director general of the group’s Center for International Forestry Research. Research carried out by the center in 25 countries shows that forests serve as an important defense against poverty, providing about a quarter of household income for the people living in and around forest areas.

Famine in the Horn of Africa has put millions of people at risk in Somalia, Kenya and other countries. The United Nations estimates that hundreds of people are dying every day, more than 13 million are at risk, and a third of Somalia’s population has been displaced.

Seymour said that dry-land areas are likely to suffer more frequent and severe droughts as the climate changes, and that protecting and restoring forests in such areas should have a more prominent place in the debate about global warming.

Deforestation in Acre State

Mapping Land/People Conflicts

Yellow + Orange = Murder.

The map above (interactive here) pinpoints (green marker) the location of the murders in September of four local (indigenous) rural (remote) leaders by people who want to turn the entire map yellow.

Yellow marks deforested lands historically owned and ‘managed’ by a network of remote villages. Green is “protected”. Orange acknowledged ‘indigenous’ lands. Yellow + Orange = high tensions between those who want to cut and sell timber (clear land of extraordinary number of animal and plant species and cultural history) and sell and/or farm it.

For another definition of rural, see Marjetica Potrč’s art/work on this area from 2007. For current (presidential election level) context see this recent article in Americas Quarterly.

Thanks again to M12 Collective and "a Decade of Country Hits."

/ Results from time-series analysis of 654,178 Landsat images in characterizing forest extent and change, 2000–2012. / Trees are defined as all vegetation taller than 5m in height and are expressed as a percentage per output grid cell as ‘2000 Percent Tree Cover’. ‘Forest Loss’ is defined as a stand-replacement disturbance, or a change from a forest to non-forest state. ‘Forest Gain’ is defined as the inverse of loss, or a non-forest to forest change entirely within the study period. ‘Forest Loss Year’ is a disaggregation of total ‘Forest Loss’ to annual time scales. / Reference 2000 and 2012 imagery are median observations from a set of quality assessment-passed growing season observations.