Free Essay

Illegal Production of Charcoal

In: Science

Submitted By lujinkensu
Words 473
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Charcoal Trade Stripping Somalia of Trees
Deforestation Contributing Factor to Famine, Say Experts
By SAID ISMAIL
©Somalia Report
Branches burn in early stages of charcoal making
Since the fall of Somalia’s central government in 1991 and the resulting decades of chaos, illegal deforestation for charcoal – a major source of income for Islamist militant group al-Shabaab - has become an everyday practice.
The decimation of trees in southern Somalia has caused tremendous environmental damage, and many believe the practice has contributed heavily to the current famine that the UN says has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), a lack of energy alternatives in the country is the primary driving cause of the deforestation that has engulfed the region.
Charcoal is made by chopping down trees, setting fire to a closely stacked pile of branches and trunks, and covering it with sand so that the amount of oxygen and air is limited. This super charges a process that would otherwise take years to achieve naturally.
The charcoal business has become a source of livelihood for many families displaced in the civil unrest and the recent drought that has affected millions of families in south and central Somalia. The charcoal is produced in remote areas and then brought to cities for use and export.
The devastating toll that the charcoal trade is having on ordinary people is now alerting other administrations in the country. Pro-government militia Ahlu Sunnah wal Jamaa, which controls areas of central Somaila, ordered residents in areas under its control not to cut down trees for charcoal, and warned anyone ignoring the order will face prison or fines.
According to ecologists, trees play a vital role in regulating the climate as they absorb carbon dioxide. Trees are also crucial for other human needs such as timber, fiber and medicines, water and biodiversity conservation as well as soil fertility for agricultural purposes.
At the moment, however, the vast majority of international efforts are focused on emergency relief - a pattern that has been repeated down the years with few, if any, programs aimed at tackling the root causes.
According to the UN, Somalia is one of 13 African countries that will face water scarcity in the year 2025, largely because of human activities such as deforestation, overgrazing and other inappropriate land use.
So finding a solution for the deforestation and decimation is as important as finding peace and political solution in Somalia – a subject that has received less attention, according to Abdi Ali Sheikh.
With al-Shabaab desperate for finances to continue its battles, and still in control of much of Somalia despite the Mogadishu withdrawal, there is little chance of an illegal trade that has taken a heavy toll on Somalia's environment ending any time soon.
http://www.somaliareport.com/index.php/post/1426/Charcoal_Trade_Stripping_Somalia_of_Trees

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