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Can you imagine Africa without lions, giraffes and zebras? A new report by the African Development Bank and WWF says Africa's ecological footprint is at threat.

Fundamentally we all depend on nature, the ecological infrastructure of the planet that provides the flow of goods and services In economics, economic output is divided into physical goods and intangible services. Consumption of goods and services is assumed to produce utility (unless the "good" is a "bad"). It is often used when referring to a Goods and Services Tax.  upon which our livelihoods and economies are built. Yet Africa's ecosystems are changing faster than ever before through the combined impact of global and local pressures. Loss of ecosystem services Humankind benefits from a multitude of resources and processes that are supplied by natural ecosystems. Collectively, these benefits are known as ecosystem services and include products like clean drinking water and processes like the decomposition of wastes.  is compromising future security, health and well-being, and effects are being borne disproportionately by the poor. Transitioning to a green economy involves maintaining our natural capital so it provides the ecosystem services, such as food, water, and livelihoods, we all depend on and being more prepared for climate change.

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Is Africa's ecological footprint Ecological footprint (EF) analysis measures human demand on nature. It compares human consumption of natural resources with planet Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate them.  on the right path?

Africa comprises 2,960 million hectares of land, 1,815 million of which are counted as bioproductive area in the zoo8 National Footprint Accounts. Of this bioproductive land area, 627 million hectares are forested, 246 million are cropland, and 911 million are grasslands. Infrastructure occupies 31 million hectares. Africa also has 115 million hectares of continental shelf area and 67 million hectares of inland water. Taking into account differences between average African yields and corresponding global yields for cropland, grazing land, forest, and fisheries, Africa's total biocapacity is 1,423 million gha. The Living Planet Index The Living Planet Index (LPI) is an indicator of the state of global biological diversity, based on trends in vertebrate populations of species from around the world.  reflects the state of the planet's ecosystems. Published for the first time in the 2012 Living Planet Report, the Africa Living Planet Index shows a reduction of 38 per cent in animal populations over the 37 year period between 1970 and 2007.

The ecological footprint of all African countries increased by 240 per cent between 1961 and 2008 as a result of growing populations as well as increased per capita [Latin, By the heads or polls.] A term used in the Descent and Distribution of the estate of one who dies without a will. It means to share and share alike according to the number of individuals.  consumption in a minority of countries. The average per capita footprint in Africa in 2008 is now rapidly approaching the available per capita biocapacity within Africa's borders of 1.5 gha.

Why should we care?

Africa has choices in terms of its development pathways. Pursuing a more sustainable approach to development than those taken in some other parts of the world can generate benefits in terms of environmental security, human well-being and increased competitiveness. The choices made today about infrastructure, energy and food production will shape our opportunities and options far into the future.

It is becoming evident that over exploitation of natural resources Exploitation of natural resources is an essential condition of the human existence.

This refers primarily to food production, but minerals, timber, and a whole raft of other entities from the natural environment also have been extracted.
 can lead to the depletion of natural capital and a decline in ecosystem services, eventually slowing economic development and human well-being. In response to the on-going decline of the global environment, the "green economy" is now evolving from being just an ideal, to an approach that is gathering more and more support from countries worldwide. The green economy is moving to take centre stage at the Conference of Parties to take place in Dhoha, Qatar, in November and December 2012.

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Transitioning to a green economy involves maintaining our natural capital, so it provides the ecosystem services we all depend on. These services provide food, water, energy and our livelihoods and help us be more prepared for climate change. In Africa the sustainable use Sustainable use is the use of resources at a rate which will meet the needs of the present without impairing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept was notably put forth by the Brundtland Commission in 1987. See also
  • http://www.iucn.
 of natural resources needs to be mainstreamed in economic development. The timing is now right for making green economies a reality, and we have seen excellent initiatives started both by individual countries and by smaller country groups. Making economies more efficient in terms of how they use resources and invest in new technologies and innovation will help these initiatives further. With Africa hosting 15 percent of the planet's population and 1.3 percent of the planet's biological capacity, its governments, business leaders and investors need to show ever greater leadership if the continent's natural resources are to be used sustainably.

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The 2012 Africa Ecological Footprint

Published and launched for the first time on the continent, this edition of Africa Ecological Footprint Report focuses on green infrastructure for Africa's ecological security. The report is a joint publication between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF See Windows Workflow Foundation. ). Specifically, it sets out some of the challenges associated with lifting Africa's growing population out of poverty and ensuring their well-being can be sustained in a resource constrained world. It analyses the current demand for land and water resources in Africa. It argues that Africa is still endowed with a lot of bio-capacity, although witnessing a decline in biodiversity and under major stresses because of significant drivers such as trade, climate change, and unsustainable development decisions. This report presents examples of solutions that promote the creation of wealth and alleviation of poverty through more sustainable management of the natural capital of the continent.

These strategies focus on:

* reducing the negative effect of human consumption on natural capital;

* maintaining natural capital with additional and targeted investment; and

* highlighting the socio-economic benefits from investing in natural capital and natural resources management.

* The 2012 report raise awareness on ecosystem-based approaches to development as an imperative to crafting a sustainable future for Africa nations. It further contributes to the AfDB's current refining of its strategic approach towards green and inclusive growth and natural resource management policies.

The report provides headway into challenges and issues that have been ignored by mainstream development and environmental planning in Africa. It takes stock of Africa's current and future demand for ecological resources as compared to the region's and the planet's supply. It initiates the process of addressing the sustainability challenge by exploring the implications of our current and proposed future development paths for regional and global ecosystems and makes policy recommendations on green economy pathways.

What's at stake?

Ecosystem services underpin all aspects of our lives and economies yet are often taken for granted Adj. 1. taken for granted - evident without proof or argument; "an axiomatic truth"; "we hold these truths to be self-evident"
axiomatic, self-evident

obvious - easily perceived by the senses or grasped by the mind; "obvious errors"
. At the same time the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a research program that focuses on ecosystem changes over the course of decades, and projecting those changes into the future. It was launched in 2001 with support from the United Nations by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.  found that "over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel". The loss of services A deprivation of a family member, such as a parent or spouse, of the right to benefit from the performance of various duties, coupled with the privation of love and companionship, provided by the victim of a personal injury or Wrongful Death.  derived from ecosystems has been identified as a significant barrier to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals “MDG” redirects here. For other uses, see MDG (disambiguation).

The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that 192 United Nations member states have agreed to try to achieve by the year 2015.
 to reduce poverty, hunger, and disease.

Fact sheet of Africa Ecological Footprint

1. Africa's total biocapacity is 1,423 million gha.

2. Nations with high per capita biocapacity such as Congo and Central African Republic Central African Republic, republic (2005 est. pop. 3,800,000), 240,534 sq mi (622,983 sq km), central Africa. The landlocked nation is bordered by Chad (N), Sudan (E), Congo (Kinshasa) and Congo (Brazzaville) (S), and Cameroon (W).  tend to be dominated by forest areas.

3. Gabon-the continent leader with high per capita biocapacity-also has major fishing and grazing lands.

4. Grazing land makes a significant contribution in other biocapacity leaders like Mauritania and Botswana while fishing lands predominate in Namibia.

5. At the other end of the scale countries with lowest per capita biocapacity are often relatively densely populated and/or have productivity affected by unfavourable climate conditions, particularly low year-round rainfall.

6. Eight countries-Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritius, Algeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Libya have available biocapacity per capita within their national borders of less than 1.2 gha per capita.

7. The Ecological Footprint of all African countries increased by 149% between 1961 and 2008.

RELATED ARTICLE: What is an Ecological Footprint?

The Ecological Footprint (EF) measures the amount of biologically productive land and water area required to produce all the resources an individual, population, or activity consumes and to absorb the waste they generate, given prevailing technology and resource management practices. This area can be compared with biological capacity or biocapacity, the amount of productive area that is available to generate these resources and to absorb the waste.

The ecological footprint shows humanity's competing demands on the biosphere biosphere, irregularly shaped envelope of the earth's air, water, and land encompassing the heights and depths at which living things exist. The biosphere is a closed and self-regulating system (see ecology), sustained by grand-scale cycles of energy and of  by comparing the renewable resources people are consuming to the regenerative capacity of the planet--or biocapacity. Ecological footprints vary enormously amongst countries and reflect different consumption patterns and lifestyles. If everybody on the planet lived the lifestyle of the average American citizen, by 2008, we would have needed four planets to support the global population.
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Publication:New African
Geographic Code:6CENT
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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