Africa: Jane Goodall speaks out against China’s massive continent-wide deforestation operation

The softspoken Goodall began her briefing in dramatic fashion, by imitating the wild call of a chimpanzee. World-renowned primatologist.Jane Goodall said China’s thirst for natural resources including wood and minerals is leading to massive deforestation in Africa and the destruction of crucial wildlife habitat.

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“Basically, they have almost exhausted their own supplies (of wood and
minerals) so they go to Africa and offer large amounts of money or
offer to build roads or make dams, in return for forest concessions or
rights to minerals and oil,” Goodall, 74, said. “I’m actually hoping
(China’s growth rate) will be slowed a little bit by this economic
crisis” in order to stem the deforestation, she said.

Goodall said the Chinese “have many enterprises in Congo-Brazzaville, and they’re certainly in DRC,” the Democratic Republic of Congo, two countries where deforestation and human encroachment have decimated wild primate populations despite efforts by the Jane Goodall Institute and other groups to reverse the trend.

“Their habitat is disappearing,” said Goodall, considered one of the 20th century’s leading scientists for her work with chimpanzees in what is now Gombe National Park in Tanzania.

She said it was crucial to work more closely with national and local governments in order to expand community-based conservation projects as a way to “offset offers from China.” She also blamed the rampant bushmeat trade for helping devastate primate populations.

The trade is facilitated by foreign logging concerns building roads into once-inaccessible forested areas, and in some cases allowing hunters
to ride in and out of the region on logging trucks.

Goodall’s institute is focused in part on expanding chimpanzee habitat in Gombe and working with local villages to rehabilitate denuded land and help
create green corridors between Gombe and other areas with chimpanzees
within the vast Congo basin.

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