Part 2: Issues in Sustainable Development



Ecosystem services of forests include the harvest of timber and traditional food, sequestration of carbon, medicinal products, and erosion control. Deforestation is a large problem in Africa and results in the loss of many of these services. The major causes of deforestation are the use of woodfuel for energy and land clearing for agriculture.

Main Idea

Forests are complex ecosystems which provide many important services

Key Concepts

      • Ecosystem services of forests
      • Causes of deforestation
      • Rate of deforestation


Knowledge of

      • ecosystem services of forests
      • causes of deforestation
      • rate of deforestation

Ability to

      • describe how forests provide non-timber resources which can support rural populations

Core Readings

  1. Global Environment Outlook 4, Chapter 3: Land, “Forests,” pages 88-91
    Good overview and explanation of trends including overfishing, declines in biomass, and progress in sustainable forest management (4 pages)
  2. Africa Environment Outlook 2, Chapter 6: Forests and Woodlands,
    pages 196-209
    Dependence on forest for firewood, harvest of non-timber forest products including medicinal plants, honey, bush meat, and need to improve forest management (13 pages)

Sustainability Strategies

  1. Non-Timber Forest Products in Uganda, pages 7-19
    Description of a proposed program in Uganda for encouraging commercialization of non-timber forest products, which is supported by environmental science and GIS technology indicating where harvesting will be sustainable (13 pages)
  2. Community-Based Forest Management in the Igbodja Forest
    Local participation and benefits of forest management (2 pages)
  3. The Sacred Forest
    Traditional leadership, religions and the value of forest preservation
    (2 pages)

Supplemental Readings

  1. Introduction to Forestry Resources
     Key facts from UNEP on-line about the rate of deforestation (1 page)
  2. Forests
    PowerPoint presentation of satellite images and graphics showing world loss in forest cover
  3. Forest Fires
    Fires have a natural ecosystem role even though the majority are set
    by humans; new theme is management rather than immediate suppression

    (1 page)
  4. Key Findings, pages 3-6
    Graphic-rich illustration of key figures on global forests, highlighting deforestation, conservation and ownership status, and increasing over-harvesting of non-wood forest products such as bush meat (4 pages)
  5. Global Environment Outlook 3, Chapter 2: State of the Environment and Policy Retrospective: 1972–2002: Forests: “Forests: Africa,” pages 98-100
    Summary of forest issues in this region, with statistics on deforestation, protected areas, growth of sustainable forestry, and firewood collection contributing to ecosystem degradation (3 pages)

Assignment Questions

  1. Forests: How severe is the rate of deforestation of tropical rainforests and what regions are most affected? Why are environmental scientists concerned about rainforest loss?
  2. Forests: List as many ecosystem services of African forests as possible. Include regulating, provisioning, and cultural services.
  3. Forests, Biodiversity: Biodiversity is important not only for the stability of local ecosystems. As the “world’s genetic library,” biodiversity is a global public resource, with immeasurable potential for pharmaceutical and agricultural research, as well as intrinsic value for science and humanity. From this perspective, why are forest ecosystems so important?