Threats to forests in Syria amid uncontrolled logging

Middle East News
2023-08-20 | 02:05
High views
Share
LBCI
Share
LBCI
Whatsapp
facebook
Twitter
Messenger
telegram
print
Threats to forests in Syria amid uncontrolled logging
Whatsapp
facebook
Twitter
Messenger
telegram
print
5min
Threats to forests in Syria amid uncontrolled logging

On the banks of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, young green trees rise among other stumps, some of which have been freshly cut due to the rampant phenomenon of uncontrolled logging. 

This issue has been exacerbated by years of war and poses a serious threat to the country's forest cover.

Inside the forest located in the village of Jaabar, in the Raqqa province, Ahmed Al-Sheikh (40 years old) surveys the freshly cut stumps, with some still holding vibrant branches.

"People cut down trees to sell them and earn money, while others want to use them for heating during the winter," he states to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He adds, "A while back, I saw four trees that were cut, and their stumps were still green. It pained my heart."

The forest in this desert area, facing the historic Jaabar Castle, has long been a refuge for residents of nearby villages and even visitors to the castle seeking shade, especially during the scorching summer months when temperatures exceed fifty degrees Celsius.

However, the years of prolonged war, security chaos, and a severe economic crisis are now threatening this forest wealth.

Al-Sheikh, who owns a grocery store, explains, "The forest meant a lot to the village. It attracted visitors, birds, and purified the air... But the situation is deteriorating now, and its area is decreasing every year."

Despite the efforts of local authorities to conduct patrols for forest protection, these efforts are ineffective due to the limited number of guards responsible for monitoring vast areas.

"We hear the sounds of motorcycles at night taking the dirt roads to sneak into the forest, and the clear sound of the loggers' saws," Al-Sheikh says.

Others sneak into the forest during daylight hours to cut down trees using hand tools to avoid drawing attention to themselves. They later return to transport the wood to their homes. Al-Sheikh warns that "if the situation continues like this, we will face desertification."

About ten kilometers away, the same scene repeats in the village of Al-Twayhinah, situated along the banks of the Euphrates River, which is suffering from decreasing water levels.

Nurse Mohammed Ali (30 years old) wanders among cut trees in his village's forests. He tells AFP, "During childhood days, we used to come with friends to sit under the shade of eucalyptus and pine trees. But now it's a barren land," as the rampant logging has stripped the area of its greenery.

The local population often cuts down trees for use as heating during the harsh winter, given the chronic shortage of fuel in recent years and long power outages in Syria.

After more than twelve years of ongoing conflict, Syria is facing a severe economic crisis that has seen its local currency lose over 99 percent of its value. The majority of Syrians now live below the poverty line.

Ali emphasizes the importance of raising awareness among the population to preserve green spaces, emphasizing that "protecting a tree is reviving human life, and cutting it down destroys the community in the long run."

The Dutch organization "PAX for Peace" warned in a report released in March about the growing phenomenon of tree cutting across all provinces in Syria. The report stated that "rising fuel prices, coupled with mass displacement, are the main drivers of widespread deforestation in Syria. Civilians are cutting down trees for cooking and heating."

The report also added that "there are clear indications that armed groups also use illegal logging and selling wood as a source of income."

Provinces such as Latakia (west), Homs (central), and Aleppo (north) have lost more than 36 percent of their trees since 2011, the year the conflict began, causing the death of more than half a million Syrians, according to "PAX."

The dense forests in western Syria are particularly vulnerable during years of war, mainly due to logging and fires, according to the same report.

In the village of Al-Nasseri in the Al-Hasakah province, Hussein Saleh Al-Hallou (65 years old) laments the impact of climate change.

He mournfully tells AFP, "Drought has affected the land, agriculture, and livestock... Even the trees have withered."

For the surviving trees, they haven't escaped the uncontrolled logging that has severely impacted the village, depriving it of "a cover of greenery."

He adds, "Uncontrolled logging has significantly affected the village. The temperature has increased, and the climate is no longer what it used to be."



afp
 

Middle East News

Threats

Forests

Syria

Uncontrolled

Logging

LBCI Next
Italy refuses extradition of Palestinian to Israel over rights fears
Download now the LBCI mobile app
To see the latest news, the latest daily programs in Lebanon and the world
Google Play
App Store
We use
cookies
We use cookies to make
your experience on this
website better.
Accept
Learn More