Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Civilians fell rare Syrian trees for firewood
by Staff Writers
Darkush, Syria (AFP) Jan 26, 2013

Beset by a freezing winter and stifling fuel and electricity shortages, Syrian civilians desperate to stay warm in a northern forest have no choice but to cut down trees for firewood.

Once a tourist destination for Syrians and other Arabs across the Middle East, the formerly pristine national park to the north and west of the city of Idlib is being systematically stripped bare.

Bald, muddy swathes of fresh-cut land now stretch in many directions, with men using chainsaws to bring trees down and dozens of pick-up trucks coming and going for loads of lumber.

"My heart burns to see all the trees cut down. But there's no choice. People need to stay warm," says Hamad al-Tawheed, one of more than a dozen pick-up drivers waiting in the town of Darkush to go out for another load.

The area being cleared is renowned in Syria for its beauty. Sheer cliffs tower over the magnificent Orontes river. Conifers, oaks and shrubs grow over the mountains, with narrow winding roads linking the villages perched among them.

Before the war, a special unit of forest rangers protected the area.

Their vigilance underlined just how precious this forest is to Syria. In all, just 1.4 percent of the country is covered with woodland, according to an estimate by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

But with Syria's conflict causing a spiralling fuel crisis and power cuts across the country, people are now resorting to hacking at living wood to provide fuel for their stoves to ward off the freezing winter.

And with bread shortages even affecting residents of Syria's main cities, the wood has also become necessary to fuel bakers' ovens.

The heating oil that used to arrive from other parts of Syria has disappeared, and substitute fuel from nearby Turkey is substandard and too expensive, locals say.

Even children in the region can be seen using picks or axes to split logs for their families.

"This area was famous for its forests. Now, almost everybody in the town is cutting down the trees," Tawheed says.

The activity is also virtually the only economic prospect available in a region where businesses have been forced to shut.

A chainsaw operator receives the equivalent of $5 to chop down a tree, and a truck driver gets around $150 per tonne of lumber.

The locals know the lasting damage they are doing to the area, and regret it. But they say the war has left them no choice.

"I feel very bad," says Abu Saleh, a 64-year-old, as he helps men bring branches and logs down a steep slope to be chopped up.

"Before this was a very beautiful forest -- now it's like a desert."

The United Nations says more than 60,000 people have died in Syria's 22-month conflict, which broke out after a peaceful uprising morphed into an armed insurgency when the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

More than 650,000 people have been forced to flee the fighting, the UN says.


Related Links
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Brazil to inventory Amazon rainforest trees
Brasilia (AFP) Jan 25, 2013
Brazil will undertake the massive task of cataloging the trees of the Amazon, in an effort to better monitor and protect the world's largest tropical forest, the environment ministry announced Friday. The planned tree census, set to take four years, "will allow us to have a broad panorama of the quality and the conditions in the forest cover," the ministry said in a statement. The head o ... read more

Boss of Fukushima operator quizzed for negligence

Kerry urges 'fresh thinking' to tackle global woes

Philippines typhoon victims need more help: UN

Canada to resettle up to 5,000 Iranian, Iraqi refugees

Supercomputer sets computing record

New information on binding gold particles over metal oxide surfaces

Researchers Create Method for More Sensitive Electrochemical Sensors

Phoenix Rising: New Video Shows Advances in Satellite Repurposing Program

Biologists alarmed as data confirm corals decline

How the purple and pink sunscreens of reef corals work

Man will have smaller fish to fry, biologists warn

US backs adding teeth to global shark protection

Greenland Ice Cores Offer Glimpse Into Future Climates

Chile expands Antarctica presence

Unprecedented glacier melting in the Andes blamed on climate change

Penguin head-cam captures bird's eye view of hunt

Dutch court to rule in Nigerian farmers' case against Shell

Hong Kong: home of world's cheapest Michelin restaurants

Cows fed flaxseed produce more nutritious dairy products

Western chefs seek recipe for Eastern success

Mozambique flood toll rises to 40

Indonesia landslides kill 11, 19 missing: officials

Mozambique floods kill 36, displace tens of thousands

Spurred by Japan, California mulls quake alert system

Troops and drones to bolster new UN Congo peace bid

Kenya braces for election bloodletting

Outside View: Building a secure Somalia

S.Africa court freezes military transfer to Zimbabwe

Bindi Irwin slams Hillary Clinton editors over essay

A relative from the Tianyuan Cave

Four-stranded 'quadruple helix' DNA structure proven to exist in human cells

Geneticist wants to revive Neanderthals

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement