It is well known by many anthropologists and ecologists that Africa is the world’s fastest growing region. With a population that is expected to grow to approximately 1.18 billion in less than two decades, Africa’s future is inextricably intertwined with how effectively it manages its expanding population. One author believes that the cause of the population explosion is due in most part to the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. He states that, “With as much as twenty percent of the adult population in such areas as Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe already infected with the virus [AIDS/HIV]… this may reinforce the strategy of having as many children as possible to increase the chances of surviving to adulthood”. Thus a population explosion results. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on African Ecology that follows your guidelines.
Sub-Saharan Africa, and more specifically South Africa is a region in which rapid population growth is contributing to the ecological degradation. The link between rapid population growth and natural resource conservation is of utmost importance. Renewable and non-renewable resources face more pressures as a result of rapid population growth and as noted by an author of ecology.
Unlike non-renewable resources (minerals) which are scarce in the long run, present use of renewable resources (land, forests, fresh water, fisheries, etc.) has no bearing on future use unless it exceeds the regenerative capacity of the resource. When the rate of regeneration of a renewable source is exceeded, there is a risk that the process can become irreversible and that the stock and its future replenishment may be lost. With a rapidly growing population, there is a high risk not only of overuse but also of permanent degradation of natural resources.
African Ecology in South Africa
In fact, degradation of these renewable resources can be seen throughout South Africa:
- Population pressure in Namibia and Botswana has led to conflicts over equitable sharing of the Okavango River, a major supplier of freshwater to the area;
- Exploitation of forests in the region has led to the overuse of wood resources and has caused a severe decline of fuel wood availability in many parts of Africa;
- Significant loses in land productivity has reduced the effective life of underground reservoirs and irrigation canals through a gradual rate of increase in siltation;
- Soil erosion and the loss of soil fertility are closely associated with deforestation and the loss of perennial grass cover.
This idea is further developed by an author who notes specifically that the population increase intensifies the degradation of natural resources. Lack of natural resources leads to competition for resources, including food, and puts significant pressure on the environment. An author describes the lack of food as causing a vicious cycle.