Deforestation and Charcoal Export
Taking action to protect Somalia’s forests
Deforestation and charcoal export to Middle Eastern countries is one of the major causes of environmental degradation in Somalia. In recent years illegal cutting of trees to produce charcoal for export has become a booming business with considerable profits. Most of the charcoal is prepared in southern Somalia and exported through the ports in Mogadishu and Kismayo. Lack of local administration in the southern regions has exacerbated the problem. Somaliland and Puntland experience the same problem but to a lesser extent. As a result of deforestation, land suitable for grazing is destroyed. This practice will inevitably affect the nomadic communities who entirely depend on grazing. Some of the most visible results of this action are extinction of wildlife and endangered crop species, soil erosion, soil degradation and an irreversible long-term impact on the agricultural ecosystems.
It has been noted that deforestation has several key drivers including the lucrative charcoal export trade and expansion of human settlements. Because of the lack of governance and rule of law there are several gaps in the fight against deforestation. Some NGOs are now shouldering the burden of protecting Somalia’s environment. These NGOs should be strengthened and supported in their causes and they should also co-operate in matters of mutual interest. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), international community and the UN agencies should liaise with Somali charcoal exporters and other stakeholders to take credible action in stopping excessive deforestation for use in charcoal production.