Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment.

One of the major highlights of the 12th Session of AMCEN is the launch of "Africa: Atlas of our changing environment". The Atlas is the first major publication to depict rapid environmental change in Africa's countries using satellite imagery, and is a resource for remedial action at all levels.
Charles Sebukeera, UNEP,
during his presentation on Africa:
Atlas of Our Changing Environment

The Atlas, compiled on behalf of the ministers by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), underlines how development choices, population growth, climate change and, in some cases, conflicts are shaping and impacting the natural and nature-based assets of the region.

The nearly 400-page long publication was launched on Tuesday 10/06 by President Thabo Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa who is hosting the AMCEN meeting in Johannesburg. Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment features over 300 satellite images taken in every country in Africa in over 100 locations. The 'before' and 'after' photographs, some of which span a 35-year period, offer striking snapshots of local environmental transformation across the continent. In addition to well-publicized changes, such as Mount Kilimanjaro's shrinking glaciers, the drying up of Lake Chad and falling water levels in Lake Victoria, the Atlas presents, for the first time, satellite images of new or lesser known environmental changes and challenges.

The Atlas, compiled in cooperation with researchers and organizations in Africa and elsewhere, offers a sobering assessment of thirty-six years of environmental change, including: 'The swell of grey-coloured cities over a once-green countryside; protected areas shrinking as farms encroach upon their boundaries; the tracks of road networks through forests; pollutants that drift over borders of neighboring countries; the erosion of deltas; refugee settlements scattered across the continent causing further pressure on the environment; and shrinking mountain glaciers'.

The satellite images also highlight positive signs of management that is protecting against and even reversing environmental degradation, say the authors.

The U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) believes that the growing environmental degradation of Africa is perhaps most starkly reflected in satellite images beamed from the skies. So, the Nairobi-based U.N. agency introduced previously another atlas in August 2006 which had as title: "Africa's Lakes: Atlas of our Changing Environment",

Picture of forest in West of Ghana:a comparison between 1973 and 2002: 30 years later...