* Collective effort needed to combat deforestation and land degradation

Botswana lost 508 hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2021, a research by the Department of Forestry and Range Resources shows.

The Department has reiterated that deforestation threats would lead to loss of biodiversity by affecting animals’ habitat, increasing predation, reducing food availability for animals, and possible extinction of some wild animals, particularly as nearly 40 percent of Botswana is devoted to protected wildlife management.

Speaking at the commemoration on combating desertification and drought in Mochudi, Pius Nkunda an agricultural officer in the Ministry of Agriculture said that Botswana has made strides to combat desertification and land degradation.

He said this had been helped by Botswana's signing and ratifying of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. "Government was playing its role by encouraging a tree planting culture, creating policies aimed at deterring cutting of trees and forests, and also establishing plant and tree nurseries, plantations, and community woodlots across different communities," he said.

Nkunda explained that these initiatives dated way back to the 80s and 90s and it was good to inculcate a culture of continuity especially as the impacts of climate change worsen, threatening to negatively affect natural eco-systems including flora and fauna.

Another Agriculture Officer in the Department of Forestry and Range Resources Peter Olekantse, echoed these concerns, pointing out that Botswana is one of the African countries experiencing drought and feeling the pinch of changing climatic conditions which negatively affect natural ecosystems.

"Drought has always been part of nature and human experiences but the conditions are now worse due to climate change, and this calls for an increased collective effort from government leadership, communities, and civil society, to mitigate impacts."

These intervention efforts are in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 15 which aims to ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services; to promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.