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Africa contains a significant portion of the world’s forest cover – including its second-largest rainforest. To see how Africa was faring in its progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, UNEP conducted a 2016 mid-term review.

Overall, UNEP found nine out of the 20 targets were progressing towards their goals, but at an “insufficient rate,” five showed no progress and three appear to be regressing further away from target goals. These three – Targets 4, 5 and 12 – pertain to sustainable production and consumption, habitat loss reduction and extinction prevention. The report indicates only two targets – 16 and 17 – which are concerned with international agreement ratification and action plan documentation are on track to achieve their goals. For one target – 14 – there was not enough data for UNEP to make an assessment.

One of the three targets UNEP assessed as regressing is Target 5, which aims to reduce habitat loss. The report indicates the continent lost between 0.2 percent and 2.57 percent of its forest cover every year from 2001 through 2013. Satellite data referenced in the report indicate deforestation accelerated in that period, with 2013 experiencing the most tree cover loss.

Professor Godwin Kowero, executive secretary of the African Forest Forum (AFF), told Mongabay that while some regions are seeing progress, Africa as a whole is not likely to achieve Target 5 as its forest loss has accelerated.

“The rate of forest loss globally has decreased in developed countries, and places like Latin America has seen an increase in forest cover, but the rate of deforestation is still a bother in developing countries, Kowero said. “Forest degradation is difficult to monitor, but we still have a long way to go in achieving the target.”

Africa’s deforestation drivers are many. Among the biggest, says Harrison Kojwang, an environment and natural resources consultant based in Namibia, are charcoal production, timber harvesting, agriculture expansion, mining, oil and gas exploration, and the curing of tobacco.

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