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. Tanzanian President Bans Deforestation To Save Kilimanjaro

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Arusha, Tanzania (AFP) Mar 21, 2006
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete on Monday banned tree felling and harvesting of timber in reserved forest areas in a move aimed at halting rapid environmental degradation, including melting of ice on Mount Kilimanjaro.

"Wanton destruction of trees in mountains has completely ruined our environment. It is now necessary to ban destruction of forests to save the environment," Kikwete told a rally in the country's northern town of Arusha.

Mount Kilimanjaro's legendary crown of snow and glaciers are melting and likely to disappear completely by 2020, triggering major disruptions to ecosystems on the dry African plains that spread out at its feet below, scientists warned last year.

The forests on Kilimanjaro's lower slopes absorb moisture from the cloud hovering near the peak, and in turn nourish flora and fauna below.

The loss of snows on the 19,330-foot (5,892-meter) peak, which have existed for about 11,700 years, could have disastrous effects on the Tanzanian economy, US researchers warned in a 2001 Science article warning about the melting.

"We have to do everything in our power to save our environment ... we cannot watch the destruction carried out by human beings," he stressed, noting that the Kilimanjaro region was notorious for felling of trees.

Kikwete also blamed environmental destruction for being a partial cause of drought in Tanzania and other east African nations where millions of people were now at risk of famine and in need of relief food.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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