Man Made Catastrophe | WWF

Man Made Catastrophe

Posted on 14 September 2017    
Dr Njiforti in a tree planting exercise to fight climate change
© Fidelis Manga/WWF
A blog post by Dr. Hanson Njiforti, Country Director WWF Cameroon

Man has always learnt from nature; from building planes based on the way birds fly to constructing houses based on the way termite construct their mounts. Over the years, people in our villages have learnt many scientific ways to construct houses that can resist heavy rains or scourging heat. No traditional builder will smoothen the walls with mud without adding straws to stabilize and hold it in place. We cannot build a solid house by just piling-up mud without a skeleton from things like bamboos or sticks.
 
God or nature has made it the same! There is interaction between the species of trees you see anywhere and the stability of the soil in that area. The trees and vegetation generally have root systems that will bind the soil together thus resisting erosion or landslides.
 
If you have ever been to the forest, you would have noticed that when it rains, trees and vegetation slow the pace and volume of rainwater that reaches the ground, thus reducing the risk of washing away the topsoil. The vegetation also retains the water long after the rain has stopped. The slow dripping of water will enable it to sink into the ground.  When enough water is in the ground, some of it will flow out as springs and streams that will give rise to rivers.
 
What happens when we cut all the trees in the name of development and plant species that are not adapted to the area, or when we construct houses? The soil will lose the cohesion that was in place because of the roots of trees and other vegetation. When rain falls, it easily sinks into the soil that becomes watery thus leading to either erosion or landslides.
When we see all these, we think of witchcraft and all sorts of things, but forget that these are the reactions of nature to man’s irrational use of the environment.
 
I feel so bad when we lose lives because of refusal to respect the environment on which we all depend. Some people still think climate change is an invention of conservation organizations like WWF. Many still refuse to see the impact of climate change on the environment in general and humans in particular. We are living on earth that has a fixed surface area and is generally resilient to change. If pushed too far, the earth’s resilience will collapse and we will face the dire consequences: floods, landslides, hunger, death etc.  We must act now and fast to save planet earth.
 
Dr Njiforti in a tree planting exercise to fight climate change
© Fidelis Manga/WWF Enlarge

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