The Beauty of the African Landscape
“Nothing but breathing the air of Africa, and actually walking through it, can communicate the indescribable sensations.”
-William Burchell, Naturalist, Author, Explorer
Hundreds of kilometers east of the center, you can view waves crashing onto the shore of the Somalian Coastline, the breeze from the Indian ocean bringing along with it a fresh air still young to pollution. As it blows southward the breeze turned wind moves more freely, covering hundreds of meters in a single swoop, brushing over the blades of the grasslands to reach the outskirts of the jungle, the strong winds brave enough to snake pass unyielding trees. Floating along the pinegrass and the roots, it continues to cut through the thick over bush to the heart of the jungle. Many leagues further, eventually the wind pauses, stunned by the ice capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro piercing the heavens and accepts that it will return to discover the southern tip of the continent at a later date.
Redirecting its approach north, it reaches the Sahara. Amazed by its vastness, stunned by how it stretches miles over the horizon, the wind decides to chart the sand as the sun rays beam down upon the earth, scattering the clouds. Open and unsheltered, the wind continues to trudge through dry scorching heat realizing its only refuge is the haven of an oasis, the wind blows westward. It eventually makes its way out, stumbling upon the richness of the African earth. Remembering the continent gives birth to the finest crystals, gems, and minerals on the planet it snakes along the gold coast. Making its way past the ivory coast, the eastern wind reaches the Atlantic Ocean, viewing the sun rays as they dance across the waves. The iridescent blues pulling you in. The sparkle makes the wind reminiscent of everything it carried across the continent. Instead of crossing this ocean, it makes its way back, mesmerized by the pull of it.
Africa, the cradle of humankind and birthplace of human history, is a land that spans 30 million sqkm. The savannas and grasslands take up half of Africa at 13 million sqkm, being mostly in central Africa to north Africa. The Sahara, the world’s largest desert, covers 8.5 million sqkm taking up about 25% of the continent. The scorched earth of its sand dunes and hamada’s reaching for the skies are features that cannot be viewed in many places. Many people around the globe travel to see the wonders of Africa such as the swamp of the Okavango Delta, the grasslands of the Ngorongoro Crater, and the diverse ecosystem of the Serengeti spanning from Kenya to Tanzania. The continent also holds the pyramids and Sphinx, marveled at by people around the Earth for centuries, pulling people all around the globe to the Sahara. Africa also holds the Great Lakes, which are some of the deepest and largest lakes on the planet. Lake Victoria being the largest lake out of the seven connects to the Nile River, the longest river in the world. The Swahili Coast covers the eastern coastline of Africa stretching from Somalia to Mozambique. It borders the Red Sea Reef composed of an infinite array of shapes full of iridescent hues and tones, many of which cannot be seen by the human eye.
The Grass Is Not Always Greener
It is well known that Africa is abundant with resources ranging from mineral deposits and oil reserves, to exotic fruits, water pools, and unused land. What many people are unaware of is that Africa has 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, has over 55% of the world’s diamonds and 60% of mining in Africa is in gold mining. For decades, the biggest resources were gold and diamonds which unfortunately have been the reason for much dispute; there have been many conflicts started over and funded by just the diamond trade alone. Many more countries and NGOs need to take a stronger proactive stance on these issues. Climate change greatly affects Africa, which directly impacts the largest economic activity for many countries, the agricultural industry. The cocoa, palm oil, vegetable and coffee industries are amongst the most heavily affected. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, deforestation is affecting Africa at twice the world rate. Studies continue to indicate that deforestation across Africa is happening at rates faster than previously estimated. The African Rain forests have also been deeply impacted by urban development and poor agricultural practices.
While the land has be used to sustain its people and used as research for human advancement, it has also caused debates and conflicts affecting the lives of millions of people. Equatorial Guinea has the highest per capita income of any country on the continent yet has one of the lowest rates of life expectancy and health outcomes in addition to high infant mortality rates. In many countries the indigenous populations are displaced from their land and stripped of their livelihood for mining corporations to use the land without giving adequate compensation. Stronger laws and policies need to be put in place to protect the citizens so that it requires informed consent from members of the community. Perhaps the citizens could be employed by the companies into position compliant with international health standards and be properly compensated in other ways.
Conservation Is the Word Of The Day
The environmental issues that are negatively affecting the continent require a combined effort across multiple fronts to address the continent’s most pressing dilemmas. There are conservation groups such as the Nature Conservancy and the African Natural Resources Centre that make comprehensive and plans of action to coordinate with the national governments and maintain forest law. The initiatives and partnerships follow through with their strategies of combatting climate change, educating others on the importance of conservancy, and reducing manmade impact on hotspots around the continent. Good leadership in countries such as Ghana and Botswana have been increasingly more proactive in their stance against threats to Africa’s nature and wildlife in addition to working towards involving more citizens. With 80% of the rain forests are located in central Africa, the Central African Forests Commission regulates Africa’s forestry sector. The commission created the Sangha Tri-National Landscape, a conserved 2.4 million acre landscape across three countries.
The African Union plays a role in getting Africa’s members states together to create action plans to combat climate change, desertification, and uphold resource maintenance. Started in 2013, the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative, Environment and Security in Africa Programme, and many other initiatives continue to be worked on creating more environmental information services, continental policies, habitat conservation amongst a host of other efforts.
The task of promoting business practices and infrastructure projects should not overshadow biodiversity conservation in both terrestrial and marine environments; so regulations and the enforcement of sanctions on actions such as logging practices should be accentuated. Personal assistance does not have to be in a monetary form as aid can be from signing a petition, reaching out to a representative, volunteering with an organization, or donating supplies.
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