Climate change kills one in six trees | The Jackal

29 Dec 2011

Climate change kills one in six trees

An old study (PDF) that is only now being reported on, has found that climate change is killing one in six trees in Africa's Sahel region:

Trees throughout Africa's Sahel region - vital to peoples' livelihoods - are dying as a result of long-term drought linked to climate change, according to a study.
It found that one in six trees in the region has died since the 1950s, whilst a fifth of species has disappeared locally, because of rising temperatures and lower rainfall linked to climate change.
At some sites, average temperatures rose by 0.8 degrees Celsius and rainfall decreased by 48 per cent.

Here's the studies conclusion:
Original field data show that forest species richness in northwest Senegal fell 33% from ca 1945 to 1993. Densities of trees of h ≥ 3 m declined 23% from 1954 to 1989. These changes shifted the Sahel, Sudan, and Guinean vegetation zones towards areas of higher rainfall at an average rate of 500 to 600 m yr – 1. The changes also decreased human carrying capacity below actual population densities. The possibility of future droughts in the Sahel raises the specter of another grave episode sometime in the 21st century.

Yet, this research shows that the impoverished flora may have lost its capacity to provide aid to a substantial population ravaged in the future by famine. This renders imperative a sustainable system of resource management. Ultimately, only natural regeneration can cover an extensive surface area, a condition necessary not only to map a comprehensive system of natural resource management, but also to engage positive climatic effects. In the face of desertification and climate change, sustainable natural resource management in the Sahel depends on natural regeneration.