Afgahnistan Forests

Trees and Forests of teh Middle East

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Afgahnistan Forests

Post by edfrank » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:15 pm

pistachiotree.jpg
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A 300-year-old pistacho tree is protected by local residents, Narop, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy UNEP)
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2010 ... 13-02.html


Afghanistan.com
http://www.afghanistans.com/information/PlantAnimal.htm
Plant life in Afghanistan is sparse but diverse. Common trees in the mountains are evergreens, oaks, poplars, wild hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios. The plains of the north are largely dry, treeless steppes, and those of the southwestern corner are nearly uninhabitable deserts. Common plants in the arid regions include camel thorn, locoweed, spiny restharrow, mimosa, and wormwood, a variety of sagebrush
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Afghanistan from mongabay
http://rainforests.mongabay.com/defores ... nistan.htm
1.3% —or about 867,000 hectares—of Afghanistan is forested.
Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Afghanistan lost an average of 29,400 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 2.25%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change increased by 29.8% to 2.92% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Afghanistan lost 33.8% of its forest cover, or around 442,000 hectares. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Afghanistan lost 33.8% of its forest and woodland habitat.
Reprinted from The Economist Nov 3rd 2001
http://www.igreens.org.uk/afghanistans_forests.htm
Bare mountains, poor people; Missing trees reflect the country's woeful recent history
White peaks, brown hills, a muddy river and pungent blue wood-smoke in Faisabad, the largest city in opposition-controlled Afghanistan, all mark the opening of the latest chapter in the dismal story of the country's environmental collapse. Afghanistan is now losing its last trees for firewood, or for export by the Pakistan-based logging mafia. The latest estimates are that forest cover is now below 0.5% of the country's land, down from more than 3% in 1980. By 2005, environmentalists fear, all the natural woods will have gone. Like most Afghans, Faisabadis population of more than 100,000 relies entirely on firewood for cooking and heating. The price in the bazaar is soaring as snow starts to cloak the mountains-a sign of winter's arrival in the valleys sometime next month. A donkey-load of fuel to provide warmth for a family for a few days costs $7-more than the average weekly wage.

"The wild trees that we can reach have gone. Now we are buying wood from farmers, who are cutting their trees because they have nothing else to sell. when that is gone, only God knows what we will do,"' says a wood-trader in the bazaar. Nearby, a three-year-old child picks up some crumbs of donkey dung and puts them carefully in a bag she is dragging be-
hind her. For families that cannot afford firewood, dried animal droppings are the last resort.

Last winter, aid agencies started providing other fuel, such as coal and paraffin, for destitute families. This winter they plan to do more, probably also including liquid-fuel stoves, which few Afghan families own. For a sickly and ill-nourished population, the fuel shortage will make things even worse. Poorly-cooked food brings stomach bugs, and unheated homes mean coughs, colds and worse. Twenty years ago, when Afghanistan still had a functioning forestry service, the hills around Faisabad were thickly wooded. Since then deforestation, a three-year drought and poverty have formed a vicious circle. Wars since 1979 have ended all controls, while greatly increasing the number of poor people desperate to fell any tree they can find. Now the hills are a barren brown in all directions. When the trees go, the soil follows. The first rain of the year, which fell last week, turned the Kukcha river, a snow-fed torrent that rushes through the town, from its normal milky jade to a muddy brown. Water sweeping off the mountains also causes floods, which destroy irrigation canals and can even sweep away the mud huts in which most rural Afghans live. Many of the trees smell delicious when burnt. But the scent is bitter-sweet. When alive they were rural money-makers: the source of mulberries, walnuts, juniper berries, apricots and pistachios. Even with a mighty forestation effort, they will take a generation to replace. There are some glimmers of hope. A Norwegian aid agency is persuading villages in the Keshem region, where there are still some natural forests, to appoint local forest wardens, who are paid in sacks of donated wheat. Villagers there hear lectures on conservation at Friday prayers in the mosque. There are pilot-projects with fast-growing trees that can be pollarded for firewood, and drip feed irrigation for saplings. One ingenious device generates gas from animal droppings, replacing firewood altogether. Dig a deep hole, add 60 kilos of dung and 60 litres of water every day, and you will generate enough methane for a 16-person household. All these are good ideas, no doubt. But none of them will have much effect without peace and a proper government.

Forest officials from Afghanistan on Study Tour in Mussoorie by azzayindia | November 23, 2008
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/forest-o ... -mussoorie


Afghanistan's Pistachio Forests Felled for Fuelwood By Mohammad Saber
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2010 ... 13-02.html
HERAT, Afghanistan, May 13, 2010 (ENS) - Mullah Samandar finds it hard to control his emotions as he swings his axe at the trunk of the pistachio tree. "When I cut down pistachio trees, I cry and my tears don't stop," the 55-year-old said, explaining that he has no other way to provide his family with fuel. "Times are hard and I do not have a job, a salary or any opportunity to find a job. We are even forced to eat plants we gather on the mountains." Afghanistan once had more than 450,000 hectares (1,737 square miles) of pistachio trees, covering a broad band across the northern part of the country in at least nine provinces. Now, 40 percent of these pistachio forests have been destroyed, according to the ministry of agriculture. Officials there attribute this destruction to the effects of the last 30 years of fighting - when the jurisdiction of the central government in the provinces was weak or non-existent - and have now submitted a bill to parliament to protect the pistachio forests. The problem is particularly acute in the northwest province of Badghis, which has Afghanistan's highest concentration of pistachio forests. Residents say that poverty and the lack of any other source of fuel is forcing them to cut down the trees for firewood. Former director of agriculture in Badghis, Gol Ahmad Arefi, says that 50 percent of the province's 95,000 hectares of pistachio forests - whose crop, he says, was once worth over US$100 million annually - have already been destroyed. Each year, he went on, another 200 hectares of pistachio forest is lost. "The process will continue as long as the government does not provide the people living near the forests with fuel," he said, adding that his department had hired 180 guards to protect the forests but that "this number is not enough."
The Lost Forests Of Afghanistan
You can't save the trees unless you understand the people, says Forestry Assoc. Prof. Gary Bull
By Lorraine Cha, Vancouver, Canada (SPX) Dec 06, 2007
http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/The_L ... n_999.html
This month, Assoc. Prof. Gary Bull from UBC's Faculty of Forestry is spending time in Kabul training an Afghan field crew. He is joining forces with the New-York based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project. Bull and UBC Forestry PhD student KiJoo Han are leading an effort to help protect and restore Afghanistan's remaining forest in the north east province of Nuristan. Over the past 20 years, in some provinces, Afghani farmers have participated in deforestation rates of up to 70 per cent. Currently, the country has 1.3 per cent forest cover, one of the lowest in the world. "If you're poor enough, you'll cut down and burn every last tree," Bull says. "Some of Afghanistan's national parks are largely denuded and people are going after the remaining scraps for fuel." Bull's job will be to deploy Afghani enumerators to conduct 350 surveys among Nuristan villagers. Bordering Pakistan, Nuristan is a remote and rugged region that has seen much conflict, and more recently insurgent ambushes.

Can Forestry Help in Afghanistan? by Nancy Young
http://www.cif-ifc.org/uploads/Website_ ... nistan.pdf
For this International Night (the section’s 52nd event of this kind), Captain Neil Stocker, a boreal silviculturist with the OMNR who volunteered for a 6 month tour of duty in 2006, provided an in-depth look into the situation in Afghanistan. He provided a great deal of insight into the real issues and how forests and forestry may be a solution to many of the problems. “All these people are really looking for is a stable income to support their families,” said Stocker, “if citizens are educated and paid to plant and maintain forests, and the warlords paid to protect these forests instead of drug crops it would benefit the Afghani citizens, reduce the need for illegal drug trade, help to rehabilitate the landscape, filter the water supply, and even sequester carbon!” What is there to lose? Afghanistan has a population of 30 million people, 50% of whom are under the age of 15. There are only two community colleges for the whole country, one of which did have a forest technician program. Afghanistan used to have forest cover over 20% of its land area, but during the long war with the Soviet Union and their local government much of this forest cover was destroyed by napalm or herbicides. Perhaps Canada could consider restoring Afghanistan’s forests and local forest knowledge as a means to rebuild the nation and restore some order and stability to this ravaged country. Most of the information from Neil’s talk can be found in his article in the September/October 2007 issue of the Forestry Chronicle – it is definitely worth the read for those who are looking to be inspired! This article has certainly made its way around in search of support for an afforestation program in Afghanistan: it has been sent by the CIF National Executive to several federal MPs, Senator Romeo Dallaire John Manley (commissioned by the Prime Minister to report on the future of Canada’s mission to Afghanistan), and the Ambassador to Afghanistan in Canada.
Afghanistan Online
http://www.afghan-web.com/environment/d ... ation.html
Deforestation by Abdullah Qazi / September 21, 2008, Last updated: March 17, 2009
Scientific studies have shown that a large part of ancient Afghanistan was covered with forests. However, today, deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate, and currently, only about 2% of Afghanistan is covered with forests. Generally, environmental experts recommend that 15 percent of a country like Afghanistan should be forested in order to prevent topsoil erosion and sustain good air quality. The largest areas of forests are located in the provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, and Nuristan. In fact, environmentalist have stated that if the current trend is not reversed, all forests in Afghanistan will disappear in the next 30 years. As the forests go, so will lots of wildlife species, further damaging Afghanistan's biodiversity. Moreover, not only will Afghanistan suffer economically, but there will also be an increase in fatalities and damages as a result of flooding and even avalanches.

Causes of deforestation in Afghanistan

Smuggling/illegal activities: Truck loads of timber leave Afghanistan every day, and are taken to Pakistan. The government needs to crack down on illegal logging, unfortunately, there may be some people in the government secretly involved in the timber smuggling business.

War: Afghanistan has been at war ever since the Soviet Invasion. The Soviet army inflicted lots of damage by uprooting numerous pistachio trees, and the various battles caused numerous uncontrolled forest fires which destroyed thousands of trees. The Taliban were also known for their "scorched earth" tactics.

Fuel use: Afghans have very little options in terms of the energy needed to keep warm and cook their foods. Since what little power plants and electrical lines Afghanistan did have were mostly destroyed during the many years of war, Afghans have resorted to cutting down trees and burning the wood to meet their energy needs.

Proper reforestation is not occurring as there is little or no incentives offered by the government.
Forests lands are being used for agriculture.

Urban encroachment: As living resources get less and less, people are moving in and settling in forest areas.
Also check out:

Deforestation marches on in Afghanistan
http://www.afghan-web.com/environment/d ... istan.html
Rape of Afghanistan's forests bodes disaster
By Nick Meo View as one page 5:00 AM Saturday Apr 9, 2005
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/ar ... d=10119471
Before the outbreak of war in 1979, Afghanistan was famous for its unspoiled woodlands filled with wildlife. An unbroken belt of natural pistachio forest stretched across the north, giant 300-year-old cedars filled the mountain valleys of the east, and even the arid hills of the south were well-timbered. Twenty-five years of war later, the extent of the country's environmental disaster is becoming frighteningly clear. In 1977 satellite imaging found 55 per cent of Badghis Province was covered with woodlands. Now almost nothing shows up. Desperate villagers stripped the mountainsides bare of trees to survive and, with no government authority to stop them, warlords found lumbering high-value trees such as walnut and cedar almost as profitable as the drugs trade. Forestry experts believe the country has suffered an environmental disaster that has hardly been noticed by the outside world but is grimly apparent to villagers who are increasingly seeing their livelihoods destroyed by desertification.
USAID Afghanistan
http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/Article.428.aspx
Afghanistan’s Pistachio Orchards Revived
Pistachio Forest Management Committees report strong progress.
Samangan Province, Afghanistan | Thursday, October 16, 2008
Afghanistan’s once thriving pistachio forests declined rapidly after decades of war and neglect. Once a source of pride to the people of Samangan province, today farmers are working hard to restore this valuable economic and environmental asset. On October 16th, USAID-supported Pistachio Forest Management Committees (FMCs) reported on the success of these efforts. The committees described how they had achieved improved harvests and stronger conservation in the orchards. Pistachio farmers have learned better management practices from USAID-supported activities and as a result, have better soil, many new trees, and significantly higher profits on their pistachio harvests. In addition to higher incomes, reforestation efforts created new jobs and strengthened Samangan’s communities as they work together to protect their valuable pistachio resources.
Citizens Plant 1.2 Million Trees in Eastern Afghanistan
Replanting forests is essential to improving environmental conditions such as air and soil quality,
Jalalabad, Afghanistan | Wednesday, April 15, 2009
http://afghanistan.usaid.gov/en/Article.611.aspx
Healthy forests provide many environmental benefits, as they prevent soil erosion, decrease air pollution and greenhouse gasses, and act as windbreak barriers to protect crops. In Afghanistan, where forests have suffered as a result of war and unsustainable cutting for firewood and building materials, replanting is essential to improving environmental conditions such as air and soil quality. To help restore Afghanistan’s forests, USAID, in cooperation with regional departments of agriculture, has planted millions of trees throughout Afghanistan as part of a program to provide sustainable alternatives to poppy production.

On March 4, USAID planted 1,248,000 trees in Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, and Nuristan, adding to the nearly eight million trees that had already been planted. The campaign was successful due to the participation of 1,552 local families, who planted saplings such as eucalyptus, poplar, shisham, and lucina. All of the saplings were produced locally in 14 nurseries – including four women-owned nurseries – throughout the region. Ultimately, the trees will result in more fertile, productive land, enabling eastern Afghanistan’s farmers to grow profitable, licit food crops – as well as to enjoy the health benefits of cleaner air.

“This campaign to plant more than a million forest trees is exceptional for the region,” said horticulture expert Amanullah Atal. “Working together with the government, we are proud to build a greener region that will have benefits for years to come, and that shows our commitment to a more productive and environmentally sustainable future for Afghanistan."
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"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Don
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Re: Afgahnistan Forests

Post by Don » Fri Jun 18, 2010 12:14 am

Ed-
Very interesting post, and most saddening.
The Afghan people have a history of being overrun by warring countries, and being resilient enough to sustain those invasions and carry on. It looks like the decades of Russian occupation, followed shortly thereafter by our's, may be the proverbial straw. We MUST leave Afghanistan a better place than when we entered it.
For a sense of the people of Afghanistan in 2002, I recommend reading "Places In Between" by Rory Stuart.
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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edfrank
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Re: Afgahnistan Forests

Post by edfrank » Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:27 pm

I recieved an email form a soldier in Afghanistan asking for more specific details on the locations of some of the champion trees in the Smokies. This made me curious about the forests of Afghanistan itself. The summary and links above represent the bulk of what I found about forests there.
A village in Badghis province
A village in Badghis province
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmen ... fghanistan


Afghanistan: Environmental degradation in a fragile ecological setting
Int. J Sustain. Dev. World Ecol. 8 (2001) 279-289
Daud S. Saba
Geology Department, St. Xavier's College, Mumbai-1, India
http://www.mindfully.org/Heritage/Afgha ... n-Saba.htm


East Afghan montane conifer forests (PA0506)
http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/ ... _full.html


Deforestation marches on
http://www.afghan-web.com/environment/d ... istan.html
Photo: Masoud Popalzai/IRIN
Photo: Masoud Popalzai/IRIN
afghan_deforestation.jpg (20.23 KiB) Viewed 3825 times
JALALABAD, 17 March 2009 (IRIN) - The eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar has lost about 90 percent of its forests since 1989 - a major contributory factor to aridity, air pollution, loss of habitat and vulnerability to flash floods, according to experts and provincial officials. Millions of trees have been lost in Nangarhar and the neighbouring provinces of Kunar and Nooristan and the ecosystem has been severely damaged because of deforestation, in part induced by drought, officials say. In 2006 Afghan President Hamid Karzai banned tree-felling, but deforestation has continued with large-scale illegal timber exports. Trees have also been cut down by people in need of firewood for heating and cooking. "People still cut [down] trees on a large scale because we lack adequate means to stop them," Hamidullah Nazir, forestry management officer at the department of agriculture in Nangarhar, told IRIN. "In the past, over 134,000 hectares of land in the 11 districts of Nangarhar Province were forest, but now tree cover is down to less than 15,000 hectares," Nazir said. Large tracts of forest have also been lost to what were initially small fires. These often get out of control as Nangarhar only has two fire engines and very limited fire-fighting resources.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Re: Afgahnistan Forests

Post by Don » Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:56 pm

Ed-
I had an opportunity to travel in Afghanistan, through Badghis province or one very much like it...the countryside was very agreeable, the people very amenable, proud...ah to go back to there and then.
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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