The average annual rate of change in total forest area from 1990 to 2000 for the whole of Africa was estimated to be -0.74 %, equivalent to losing more than 5 million ha of forest a year, an area roughly the size of Togo, and the highest rate of any region. (UNEP: GEO 3).
In Africa, forests-as defined and reported by FAO (1999a) - cover 5 million km2, one-sixth of the continent's land area. The moist tropical forests of the Congo constitute the second most extensive rainforest in the world and are a globally important reserve of carbon. Trees and shrubs constitute an important component of the more than 12 million km2 of agricultural lands, pastures, shrublands, and savannas outside of closed-canopy forest areas.
Firewood and charcoal provide approximately 70% of the energy used in Africa. Moreover, the export of timber, nuts, fruit, gum, and other forest products generates 6% of the economic product of African countries (FAO, 1999). Predicted climate change will likely result in species range shifts, as well as changes in tree productivity, adding further stress on forest ecosystems.