This is an attempt to identify the ways in which Africa is unique in terms of environmental issues. Geo- political realities and colonial intervention are what really link African countries together: a shared past in terms of recent history. The present situation is that African countries are faced with the difficulties of coping with unstable conditions, disruptions of local systems and the loss of local identities. These aspects manifest themselves in extremely different ways throughout the continent.
The implications on the environment are the same: poorly managed development that results in irreversible damage. For this reason, positive environmental interventions cannot wait for wars to subside, economies to improve or oppressive governments to be overthrown. Action must be immediate, but, how?
Approaches to integrated development and environmental management need to be feasible and socially acceptable. The following issues are discussed:
- Identifying the shared problems within the wide variations of the African context
- The relevance and effectiveness of legislation
- The importance of education and change in professional attitudes
- Translating policies into planned intervention.