For so long, man has been his own enemy by destroying his own future the environment. Environmental destruction is right now posing a very big threat not only to our society but to the whole world.
Our planet’s natural ecosystems and regenerating bio-capacity are being severely degraded and, as a result it compromises the ability of the planet to sustain life.
Forests, oceans, rangeland, fresh water systems (lakes, wetlands, rivers) and other natural ecosystems are all threatened while many are on the verge of collapse.
According to scientific journals, water, land and air are getting increasingly polluted, water tables are falling, soil erosion is leading to desertification, global warming is well in progress, and species are dying out 1000 times faster than their natural rate of extinction.
Environmental destruction in our society today takes very many modes and it is done by us thinking that we are doing it for survival’s sake and yet we are compromising the lives of the future generations, our own descendants.
Some of the activities undertaken by man which lead to environment degradation include deforestation, poaching, pollution and others.
When it comes to our own society, the level at which we are taking part in destroying our own environment is alarming.
Information from sate light photos taken in the early ‘80s shows that we have encroached on and destroyed the forests in this country up to the tune of over 99 percent.
Satellite images of between 1986 and 2001 released by NASA show near complete destruction of Gishwati forest.
Deforestation of the forest reserve is largely the result of subsistence harvesting and cultivation by refugees in the aftermath of the country’s 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Overall only 600 hectares of Gishwati’s original 100,000 hectares of forest remain, translating into a 99.4 percent loss.
According to United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the reserve’s forests were largely intact in 1978, and substantial forest cover still remained in 1986.
But in the 15 years that elapsed between these images—a time that spanned the country’s tragic genocide—wave after wave of refugees arrived in Gishwati Forest and began clearing it, often for subsistence farming.
By 2001, only a small circular patch of native forest remained—1,500 acres of the forest’s original 250,000 acres according to NASA photos.
Deforestation in our country was driven by the need for food, medicine, charcoal, and timber, especially for commercial products.
But the loss of so many trees in a rainy, mountainous country like ours has had and will continue to have severe environmental consequences if nothing is done to restore our environment as soon as possible.
Experts say that the continued destruction of our forests could lead to future tremendous loss of biodiversity and that this region could experience massive soil erosion, degradation and landslides.
However, though the situation looks as it is, all hope is not lost since the government of Rwanda has put in place measures to make sure that the destroyed forests and the environment at large is restored by setting up of a mutually beneficial process of re-forestation.
It is therefore imperative that each one of us wakes up and realises that if we don’t do our best to protect the environment, we are doomed.
There are opportunities like the tree planting week that can help us engage in this exercise. Also the regular practice of making sure that we plant a tree or two every now and then could yield better results in the long run.
We can make tree planting a culture and even teach it to our young children as they grow up to respect the environment by taking time to thoroughly explain to them how important it is to us and to them.
Let us preserve the environment because it is our future and without caring for it, the future of our next generations is at stake.