Charcoal Trade Leading To Deforestation In S. Sudan

The increase in demand for charcoal in South Sudan may lead to deforestation as those involved in the trade are cutting down a whole lot of trees daily.

 Charcoal Trade Leading To Deforestation In S. Sudan
Charcoal ready for sale [Gurtong photo]

By Daniel Majack

JUBA 10 November 2017 [Gurtong]-As the economy of the country is deteriorating the cutting down of trees which in essence is illegal is being done by many including the army in order to make ends meet.

Recently Gurtong trekked five kilometers before crossing River Nile by boat to meet a charcoal seller in the outskirts of Juba and watched him cut down a tree at the Gondokoro Hill in Jubek State.

After the tree hits the ground, he then cuts it into chunks, after which in a couple of days the wood will be turned into charcoal which will then be transported to the markets in Juba for sell.

45 years old Peter Gore, said he goes deep into the forest despite the risks of what might happen to him to get wood for his charcoal. He says the economic crisis in South Sudan has forced him to enter into the business of selling charcoal so that he may be able to provide for his family the necessary basic needs.

“Life was becoming very hard, so I have to risk my life to do this work to provide food for my family. I started this business through money I borrowed from a relative in 2015 to buy a chainsaw to cut trees and make charcoal to cater for my children’s future,” Peter told Gurtong.

He told Gurtong that his previous monthly income as a first lieutenant was just 3,000 South Sudanese Pounds an equivalent of 17 U. S dollars which could not meet his family’s needs.

Prices of goods in the markets have skyrocketed in the country. Most of the goods are being imported from neighbouring countries. And due to the insecurity along the roads and the multiple taxes that traders are forced to comply with while bringing their goods to South Sudan they are forced to charge highly to avoid making loses.

According to Peter, the charcoal business is lucrative as majority of the population in South Sudan use charcoal for cooking.

Gideon Samuel Jubara, the Director General of the Forestry in the Ministry of Environment said that majority of those involved in the charcoal trade in the country are armed forces.

He said that though there are laws put in place to avoid deforestation this has not been implemented.

“Soldiers say they cut down trees to burn charcoal because they are underpaid and they need money to bring food for theirs families,” said Jubara.

In 2016, South Sudan said the nation has ineffective forestry policy and its authorities are worried of losing its natural forests to rampant rates of illegal logging.

According to UN Environment Programme (UNEP), South Sudan’s forests only covers 33 percent of its total land area and is shrinking by 1.5 percent annually due to logging and deforestation as the country lacks alternative source of fuels.


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