Sustainability at an ecological level must be pursued with a policy agenda that strives to balance growth with sensible restraint.
African governments and people are very concerned about the deforestation, the decline of the biodiversity on the continent, the population explosion, the erosion, and the decline in the quality of the climate.
Original research conducted in the southeastern region of Nigeria in 1993 confirmed this general perception in Africa ( James 1993). In Nigeria, because the population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the natural resources in the southeastern region, the rainforest is experiencing tremendous pressure. There is an unprecedented decline in the quantity and quality of the natural resources. The majority of the residents of the region overwhelmingly agree that research and policy formulation for effective resource management is necessary for conservation of the resources.
Strengthening of research capability in order to encourage sustainability is paramount, especially in light of the impact of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture's influence on the reversal of the ecological decline in Nigeria. The people of southeastern Nigeria think research can make a significant difference in the protection of their resources. Other ideas that will be supported by people of this region are:
the multinational approach to solving the problem;
agro-forestry, which encourages multipurpose communal plantations, shelter belts, and alley cropping;
social forestry, which involves people's participation and will enhance sustainable development;
investment in indigenous species, because they are familiar with these species;
coordination of efforts of local government with national and international efforts; and
rates of exploitation of resources not exceeding the regenerative rate of the natural resources and the assimilative rate of the natural resources not being exceeded by the rate at which waste from development is being added to the natural systems.
It should be emphasized that the natural systems of Africa can be sustained for growth and development in perpetuity if the above steps are followed along with the commitment of the governments of African countries.
Policy makers are in search of ways to enhance environmentally, agriculturally, economically, and socially sustainable development.