The misrule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is legendary and has been in the news recently due to hyper-inflation that is crippling the society's economy and health. But it has had another, hidden, toll: The nation's trees.
Already in peril, having lost 21% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2005, Zimbabwe's rate of deforestation doubled in the past year, according to a Deutsche Presse-Agentur story. A full 1 million acres of forests are being laid to waste each year now, in a land rich in biological diversity -- including savannah landscapes filled with Africa's characteristic lions, hippos and elephants.
The increased rate of deforestation comes as a domino-effect result from the misguided economic policies in the country. Money is so tight that the power supply around the country is cut for hours at a time, forcing more people to rely on fire wood for cooking.
From a global perspective, this has two effects on greenhouse gas emissions. Clearing forests removes a "sink" that would otherwise absorb atmospheric carbon and store it, and burning wood releases large amounts of that long-stored carbon into the atmosphere, where it helps to trap heat near the earth's surface.
So this story is another example of political, social and economic forces being intertwined inextricably from environmental consequences.
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