Deforestation and Poverty

in Sub-Saharan Africa



Deforestation in Tanzania


Table of Contents

  1. Why are deforestation and poverty levels in sub-saharan Africa an important problem to discuss?

  2. What are the major causes of deforestation in sub-saharan Africa?

  3. How does poverty relate to deforestation in sub-saharan Africa?

  4. How to control deforestation and poverty of sub-saharan Africa at the same time?

  5. Annotated Bibliography

  6. Web Links

  7. About


Why are deforestation and poverty levels in sub-saharan Africa an important problem to discuss?


Deforestation may be seen as local problem with global consequences. Naoto (2006) found Africa to lead the list of countries with the highest rate of deforestation. Deforestation is an important form of environmental degradation which involves permanent loss of species, soil degradation, and impact of climate change. The world’s forests provide a great services and benefits to our ecosystems. Forests are crucial for the well being of humanity (Tunji et al.) In sub saharan Africa, the number of people living in poverty increased from 184 million in 1985 to 216 million in 1990. It is projected to rise to 300 million by the year 2000. SSA is the only region in the world where poverty is expected to increase (Diassarouba 2005). The people of sub saharan Africa rely on subsistence farming as their means for survival.They cut the forests in order to expand their farming land to feed their growing families.



Poverty in SSA

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What are the major causes of deforestation in sub-saharan Africa?


Developing countries like nigeria rely heavily on wood fuel, the major energy source for cooking and heating. Illegal and destructive loging and mining practices are heavy hitters in deforestation and degradation of the sub Saharan land. Land tenure and increasing populationa are also a major cause of deforestation. One of the major causes of deforestation in sub saharan Africa today is clearing of the forests for agricultural uses. Growing populations need more agricultural land or better farming practices to support them. Sub saharan African people do not have the means or funds for better way of farming. they rely on quantity not quality. If they produce enough crops they will still have enough or food after losing the majority to pests and rodents. Another cause of deforestation in sub saharan Africa is illegal logging companies. Big companies can get away with the practice of illegal logging and mining because of the state of sub saharan Africa's government. In an all but lawless area big ompanies take advantage of the situation and come out makig a hefty profit.


trees in desert and skinny black guy


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How does poverty relate to deforestation in sub-saharan?


One case study suggests that there is a very strong link between deforestation and poverty. Many critics argue over whether poverty causes deforestation or if deforestation causes poverty. Either way both are extremely relevant, important related problems that need to be fixed. Deforestation is agravated in sub saharan Africa by an increase in popullation. the increase in population causes added stress to the agricultural resources. In turn more land needs to be cleared to suport the growing population. sub saharan Africa does not have the sophisticated means of producing gricultural resources and looses much of their harvests.They do not have the means for protecting their crops from pests in the fields. The farmers in the regions of sub saharan Africa do not have a way of protecting their crops after their crops are put into storage. The crops they do harvest then become sucseptible to more pests and rodents in the storage facilities they use for crop storage. Because of this high crop loss they do not harvest enough crops to sell any as cash crops, all the food they produce goes straight to ther family for sustinence. There are many arguments as to whether poverty causes deforestation or if deforestation causes poverty. In most aspects they both show good points but either way trying to do more to control one will be beneficial to the other.



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How to control deforestation and poverty of sub-saharan Africa at the same time?


The conventional solution aims to target and fix poverty which they consider to be the cause of deforestation. The government, together with various organizations, sees development as the main key to cure. Ironically, industrialization and further industrial developments are also one of the causes of deforestation. More people moving into the cities also means clearing more land. This happened to be the reason why the government has been struggling with issues presented by the solutions that they tried to provide (Agyei 1998). This frustration and never ending circle leave many wondering if there is a way to solve the problem of deforestation, other than letting the ways of nature and the economy run its course. Programs that help start farmers in planting trees for cash crops and for many other benefits may help this problem greatly.


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Annotated Bibliography


Deforestation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yvonne Agyei, African Technology forum. Volume 8 number 1. 1998

Sub Saharan African problems of deforestation. The website reports on how much deforestation has taken off over the recent years in Africa. The website discusses the causes that include using lumber for fuelwood and commercial logging. Africa is also losing forests due to cattle ranching and encroaching settlements. The website suggests monitoring human activity in the area and imposing regulations on commercial logging in order to curb the increasing amounts of deforestation.

Yvonne Agyei

Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa (Volume 10, No.2, 2008) ISSN: 1520-5509 Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, Pennsylvania ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT: THE ISSUE OF LAND EROSIONS. ‘Tunji Titilola Fayetteville State University

This article discusses the importance of natural resources to humans but maintains that as important as they are to us for agricultural achievements and urbanization the land is also very useful when covered by forests. They discuss how for places like Nigeria that they cannot see past the immediate monetary value of turning forests into money making farms. The poverty of the area makes it very hard to affect deforestation.

Tunji tittola

On fuelwood consumption, population dynamics and deforestation in Africa R.A. Cline-Colea, H.A.C. Maina and J.E. Nichol, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria Available online 12 March 2002.


This article mainly focuses on the need of the poverty stricken areas of sub Saharan for forests as fuelwood and how greatly it is contributing to immense amounts of deforestation and degradation of the forests. This article also discusses and focuses mainly on regions of Nigeria. The importance of economics in this area and how it affects deforestation is also discussed.

R.A. Cline-Colea, H.A.C. Maina and J.E. Nichol

A village-level economic model of land clearing, grazing, and wood harvesting for sub-Saharan Africa: with a case study in southern Senegal Prem L. Sankhayan and Ole Hofstad, Department of Forest Sciences, Agricultural University of Norway, PO Box 5044, 1432 Ås, Norway Received 26 September 2000

This article is discussing an ongoing study in sub Saharan Africa on villagers and their farming techniques. The study also looks at how different models in different situations affect deforestation in different amounts and qualities. It provides real evidence, solid proof, from a case study done by professionals and scholars in various related fields.


Prem L. Sankhayan and Ole Hofstad

Deforestation in Sub-Saharan Africa Malick Diarrassouba Department of Agricultural-Economics, 307 Comer Hall Auburn University, Auburn, Al 36830. 2009

The article is also discussing the increasing and alarming rates of deforestation in sub Saharan Africa and how dire the effects might be of deforestation in this area. Besides the economic value of the forests much of the sub Saharan is undergoing desertification because of a combination of deforestation and overgrazing

Malick Diarrassouba

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Web Links,,contentMDK:21079774~pagePK:64168098~piPK:64168032~theSitePK:2463874,00.html

- Short website with articles about policy of halting deforestation. Also discusses poverty of sub saharan Africa.

- Website version of a PDF on rehabilitation of degraded forest and agricultural lands of sub saharan Africa.

- Good for extra reading on the subject of the poverty stricken area of sub saharan Africa.

- Website about different cultivation and farming methods to help restore the land and soil. Discusses how land use affects the soil amd it nutrient and chemical properties.


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This page was created by Morgan Cunningham for World Forestry (FOR414) on April 21st, 2010.

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