Deforestation in Somaliland: Historical Overview, Challenges and the Way Forward

Rural people cutting down trees for charcoal production

Rural people cutting down trees for charcoal production Deforestation is permanent clearance of trees from land without replacing them. During 1998 to 1991, civil war broke out in Somalia resulting total damage in the Northern region of Somaliland which caused absolute devastation of forests and wildlife. In particular, trees were severely smashed by the bombs and military tanks of the Siyad Barre forces in Somalia. As a result, after Somaliland declared its independence, local people in many parts of Somaliland cut down the remaining forest cover for livelihood, income generation and energy.

Deforestation has not only been the pressing environmental problem in Somaliland but also finance people in rural areas to have another source of income by turning trees into charcoal. Massive deforestation in Somaliland also contributed to the process of desertification as the country is known for its absence of vegetation in most of its regions. In addition, deforestation is threat to the existence of biodiversity because when trees are cut down, thousands of dependent species will ultimately extinct.

Moreover, deforestation has negative consequences on pastoralist communities since Somali people are familiar with herding of camels, sheep, goat and cattle. These livestock die due to lack of vegetation cover on the land and absence of water as deforestation fuel global warming and water table. Consequently, severe droughts which triggered the death of millions of livestock have been seen in the country since 2011. Therefore, deforestation is driving the country towards poverty and other environmental degradation that can be a reason for long-term economic, social and environmental barriers in the coming future.

Even though deforestation has lifetime social and environmental constraints, there are possible measures that can be taken. Firstly, deforestation can be addressed by empowering local people to protect the forests and start new reforestation programmes. Secondly, awareness raising activities against the short-term and long-term catastrophes can also be delivered by the Ministry of Environmental and Rural Development and other Community-based Organizations (CBOs) including youth and women groups. Finally, criminalizing deforestation activities may save the few thousands of trees left in Somaliland.

Siyad Barre tanks demolishing trees and vegetation cover during civil war in Somaliland

Mohamed Rashid Hussein

A leading Columnist, Humanitarian and Social Worker, Sustainable Development Practitioner

Email: / + 252 63 4002027


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Horndiplomat editorial policy.

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