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Africa’s faces “ecological deficit”

footprint.jpgAnd you thought the US was having trouble with natural resources…

From WWF International’s latest report:

Compared to the rest of the world, the average African’s footprint is small – for many, too small even to meet basic needs. While Africa still has more biocapacity than it uses, this margin is shrinking, largely due to population growth. If current trends continue, Africa will soon be facing an ecological deficit, with demand exceeding the continent’s supply.

Some of Africa’s biocapacity is being used to meet its own needs; some is being used, legally and illegally, for exports of natural resources; and some serves as part of the global commons that is absorbing carbon dioxide. Moving into ecological deficit will make it harder to even maintain existing living standards, and the loss of export potential combined with a growing need for more imports could weaken Africa’s economy.

Effective management of ecological assets can help end cycles of poverty and can support changes, like those called for in the Millennium Development Goals, that improve quality of life. In contrast, gains built on liquidating ecosystems will only be short lived, and poorer countries will be most at risk of suffering the consequences.

The good news is that many opportunities exist to manage and use biocapacity more effectively. Whether providing exports or sequestering carbon, an accurate accounting of demand on, and supply of, biocapacity can help determine if its use is being valued appropriately.

According to the report, Egypt, Libya and Algeria head the list of African countries going beyond their resources, while Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe are also using up more than they produce.

It’s a really interesting read. The full report is here.

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