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Environmental change re-draws atlas of Africa
uusjio | June 11, 2008 at 08:55 pmby
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Africa`s rapidly changing environmental landscape, from the disappearance of glaciers in Uganda`s Rwenzori Mountains to the loss of Cape Town`s unique `fynbos` vegetation, was presented Tuesday to the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).
The Atlas, compiled on behalf of the ministers by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), underlines how development choices, population growth, climate change and, in some cases, conflicts are shaping and impacting the natural and nature-based assets of the region, a press statement of UNEP said.
The nearly 400-page long publication was launched today by President Thabo Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa who is hosting the AMCEN meeting in Johannesburg.
Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment features over 300 satellite images taken in every country in Africa in over 100 locations. The `before` and `after` photographs, some of which span a 35-year period, offer striking snapshots of local environmental transformation across the continent.
In addition to well-publicized changes, such as Mount Kilimanjaro`s shrinking glaciers, the drying up of Lake Chad and falling water levels in Lake Victoria, the Atlas presents, for the first time, satellite images of new or lesser known environmental changes and challenges including:
Disappearing glaciers in Uganda`s Rwenzori Mountains, which decreased by 50 per cent between 1987 and 2003. The widening corridors of deforestation that have accompanied expanding roads in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1975. New roads threaten to bring even greater traffic to this biologically rich rainforest and further fuel the bushmeat trade.
The disappearance of a large portion of Madagascar`s South Malagasy spiny forest between 1973 and 2003 as a result of farming and fuelwood gathering.
The northern edge of Cape Town, which has seen much of its native `fynbos` vegetation replaced with farms and suburban development since ...