Between 60,000 and 80,000 hectares of Guinea-Bissau forest is lost every year due to deforestation, illegal logging and uncontrolled forest fires, the Guinean Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nicolau dos Santos said on Thursday in Bissau.
The minister pointed out, however, that despite this situation, Guinea-Bissau continues to have huge agricultural and forestry potential, including arable land estimated at about 1.5 million hectares, of which 80% is on plateaus, 200,000 in freshwater valleys, 106,000 in salt water valleys and more than 100,000 square metres of areas with industrial wood.
According to Nicolau dos Santos, as a result of deforestation, Guinea-Bissau faces significant losses of forest and wildlife reserves, erosion and consequent loss of arable land, destruction of animal habitats, reduction of biodiversity, river flow and precipitation, as well as rising temperatures.
The minister did not specify the value of the losses, but said that they were “large amounts” that could improve the economic and financial difficulties Guinea-Bissau is facing at the moment.
Dos Santos, speaking on the World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification, said reforestation is still possible if each citizen undertakes to plant at least one tree per year, which would help to create new forests and would have direct implications for the economy and finances of Guinea-Bissau.