From war on nature to saviour, Mustafa conserves forest
The 38-year-old Mustafa from Debis, Sahil region, has been working in the forest almost every day for the last 20 years cutting trees to secure a living for his immediate and extended family. He has been increasingly anxious about the nature of his job. Now, Mustafa is back to the vicinity where he used to conduct his charcoal business, but this time is different: he is participating in the conservation of the forest, turning from “war on nature to saviour” as a result of a forestry project, implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development.
Many parts of Somaliland are showing signs of environmental degradation due to overgrazing, biodiversity depletion, soil erosion, development of unplanned feeder roads, increased settlements and uncontrolled cutting of trees for charcoal. This degradation is not only a problem to the wildlife and biodiversity but also a threat to the nation and its pastoral lifestyle.
The Enhanced Capacity Building for Sustainable Natural Resource Management Project, implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD), focuses on environmentally friendly and sustainable soil and water conservation interventions including soil bunds, check dams, establishment of forest nurseries and production of tree seedlings. Soil bunds, for example, reduce hillside run-off, increase water infiltration and prevent soil erosion.
In Somaliland, charcoal production and limited recovery practices due to a lack of knowledge on post-harvest management techniques pose adverse environmental effects such as deforestation. Speaking on the environmental problem attributed to people like him working in charcoal production, Mustafa says:
“Cutting trees brings calamity to everyone including mankind and their livestock: repetitive droughts are an imminent threat to all of us these days.”
The project employed 290 casual laborers - mostly young men - who were formerly engaged in charcoal production. Mustafa also acknowledges the Ministry’s efforts to secure an alternative income, which is environmentally friendly, by employing the former charcoal producers for the construction of soil bunds.
“Today, charcoal producers have secured alternative sources of income through the project by being employed to build soil and water conservation structures.”
The Enhanced Capacity Building for Sustainable Natural Resource Management Project is funded by the Somaliland Development Fund. The SDF is a 4-year fund designed to support the Government of Somaliland (GoSL) filling a critical gap funding projects that are fully aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP). The SDF is currently funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), and the Governments of Norway and The Netherlands.