- Title: With fuel scarce, Yemen's forests are next casualty of war
- Date: 11th August 2021
- Summary: ROAD BETWEEN SANAA AND MAHWIT PROVINCE, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 24, 2021) (REUTERS) VIEW OF VALLEY MAHWIT, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 24, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF LUMBERJACK, ALI AL-EMADI, WALKING INTO FOREST WITH HIS CHILDREN VARIOUS OF EMADI CHOPPING DOWN TREE BRANCHES VARIOUS OF EMADI CUTTING TREES WITH CHAINSAW EMADI PILING TREE BRANCHES MAHWIT, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 10, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LUMBERJACK, ALI AL-EMADI, SAYING: "The owners of bakeries were forced to find a replacement for gas, so they resorted to wood. They use wood and stone to heat their ovens. In the past, they used to use gas and diesel but now there is only wood." VARIOUS OF EMADI AND HIS SON CUTTING LOGS OF WOOD MAHWIT, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 24, 2021) (REUTERS) VIEW OF EMADI'S HOUSE VARIOUS OF EMADI WALKING INTO HOUSE WITH HIS CHILDREN WOMAN COOKING USING WOOD FOOD BEING COOKED ONE OF EMADI'S CHILDREN (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LUMBERJACK, ALI AL-EMADI, SAYING: "In the past, you used to go anywhere, like Marib, Saada or Sanaa and you would be able to make a living to feed yourself and your family, now there is nothing. Now if you work for one day, it won't last you for four or five days of food. So I decided to stay with my family. If I get something, we eat. At least we live or die together, instead of being apart for nothing." VARIOUS OF EMADI AND HIS FAMILY MEMBERS EATING HODEIDAH, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 24, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MEN LOADING WOOD ON MOTORCYCLE MAN ON MULE DRAGGING TREE BRANCHES FOLLOWED BY MAN WITH MOTORCYCLE CARRYING WOOD MAN ON MOTORCYCLE LOADED WITH WOOD MEN UNLOADING WOOD FROM MOTORCYCLE VARIOUS OF MEN LOADING WOOD ONTO PICK-UP TRUCK SANAA, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 17, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF WOOD MARKET VARIOUS OF MAN UNLOADING WOOD FROM TRUCK SANAA, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 12, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEAD OF BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL RESERVES AT YEMEN'S ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AUTHORITY, ABDULLAH ABUL-FUTUH, SAYING: "It's a huge number, but in one year 886,000 trees are felled in Sanaa, which represents 10 percent of the country's population or the area. So if we multiply this by 10, the number becomes staggeringly high. Another study says that almost 17.5 tonnes of wood are burnt by bakeries." ROAD BETWEEN SANAA AND MAHWIT PROVINCE, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 23, 2021) (REUTERS) VIEW OF MOUNTAIN HODEIDAH, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 24, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF GIRL FILLING WATER IN PLASTIC TANKS GIRL ON MULE CARRYING WATER MAHWIT, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 24, 2021) (REUTERS) VIEW OF MOUNTAINS AND VALLEY SANAA, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 12, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEAD OF BIODIVERSITY AND NATURAL RESERVES AT YEMEN'S ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AUTHORITY, ABDULLAH ABUL-FUTUH, SAYING: "If we assume that each tree occupies three metres by three metres of land, this becomes equivalent to 213,000 km of deforestation. Of course this is a hypothetical number because we know that forests only shape about 48 percent of Yemen's territory." MAHWIT, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 10, 2021) (REUTERS) LUMBERJACK, AHMED JUBRAN, WALKING WITH AXE IN HIS HAND VARIOUS OF JUBRAN CHOPPING DOWN TREE JUBRAN CUTTING WOOD LOGS JUBRAN CARRYING WOOD LOGS AND WALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LUMBERJACK, AHMED JUBRAN, SAYING: "We are scared that the country could become a desert. And it already has, because there are places where there are mountains, you no longer see the trees that once covered the mountains. So now we have moved back to cultivating mangoes, despite the demand for mango, it is seasonal and selling wood is more profitable." MAHWIT, YEMEN (FILE - JUNE 23, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PICK-UP TRUCK CARRYING WOOD DRIVING THROUGH VALLEY VIEW OF VALLEY
- Embargoed: 25th August 2021 10:01
- Keywords: Deforestation Forests War Woods Yemen
- Location: ROAD BETWEEN SANAA AND MAHWIT PROVINCE, MAHWIT, HODEIDAH, AND SANAA, YEMEN
- City: ROAD BETWEEN SANAA AND MAHWIT PROVINCE, MAHWIT, HODEIDAH, AND SANAA, YEMEN
- Country: Yemen
- Topics: Environment,Middle East,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA001EPU6Q87
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Yemeni lumberjack Ali al-Emadi spends hours chopping down an acacia tree with an axe as his 12-year-old nephew helps out splitting logs.
In a country blighted by war, Emadi had to turn to logging in his northern Mahwit region to eke out a living. An economic collapse has wiped out the farming and building work he used to travel around the country for.
But with demand for firewood soaring due to fuel shortages, there are now concerns that the country's humanitarian crisis, with millions facing starvation, has compounded the risk of deforestation - threatening both the environment of Yemen and any hope of a long-term livelihood for men like Emadi.
"The owners of bakeries ... use wood and stone to heat their ovens. In the past, they used to use gas and diesel, but now there is only wood," Emadi said.
"If I get something, we eat. At least we live or die together," the father of seven said.
More than six years of war between the recognised government backed by a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi movement aligned with Iran has killed tens of thousands of people and left 80 percent of Yemen's population reliant on aid.
The fuel shortages due to a coalition blockade on Houthi-held areas, including limiting access to the main port of Hodeidah, have led businesses and families to swap diesel and gas for firewood. The alliance says the blockade is needed to foil arms smuggling.
Around 886,000 trees are felled annually to feed bakeries and restaurants in the capital Sanaa alone, said Abdullah Abul-Futuh, head of biodiversity and natural reserves at Yemen's Environment Protection Authority in the city, which is run by Houthi authorities along with most of northern Yemen.
Some five million trees have been cut down over the past three years across the north, he said.
The authority could not provide comparative figures, saying this was a recent phenomenon.
After gas was discovered in the Marib region in the 1980s, wood cutting became limited to remote areas but the war has choked Yemen's energy output, forcing a reliance first on imports and now on wood from trees more usually used to build homes or furniture.
Yemen has few woodlands but a relatively rich variety of flora in the oil-producing Arabian Peninsula desert region. In Mahwit, known for its thick canopies, several types of acacia, cedar and spruce are vanishing.
Lumberjacks who have the means buy an acacia tree from land owners for the equivalent of around $100 and then sell logs to traders who send them to the cities.
A five-tonne truck loaded with logs nets the equivalent of $300-$700 in Sanaa, depending on the wood and haulage distance.
Forests are largely privately owned and poor families were traditionally allowed to chop wood for free as long as they only cut branches and spared the trunks for regeneration.
(Production: Adel Khader, Abdulrahman al-Ansi, Tarek Fahmy)
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