Somalia has lost a lot of its trees since the civil war began in the 1980s. It’s a serious problem, but it hasn’t necessarily happened for the reasons you think, like getting hold of rare wood like mahogany or clearing space to grow cash crops. Yes, getting more land for agriculture is partly to blame – but for the last 30 years one of the biggest reasons loggers have chopped down forest is to meet Saudi Arabian demand to smoke shisha.
In an official submission to the UN ahead of official climate change talks, the country said at the moment around 10.5 per cent of its land was covered with rainforest – a lot less than in the past. ‘The production of charcoal mostly for export to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate (UAE) solely for using ‘shisha’ had a negative deforestation impact’, the government said. The document contains Somalia’s pledges for how to reduce emissions ahead of major climate talks in Paris next month when world leaders will try to agree how to prevent catastrophic global warming.
Somali leaders are worried deforestation could spell disaster in the future if they can’t grow enough crops, and also fear the effects of global warming on weather patterns which have already caused devastation with cyclones recently. ‘The combination of the disasters Somalia is prone to and the disasters occurrence predictions from scientists clearly show that the worst is yet to come’, the government said. ‘At this era, Somalia cannot afford to lose so many lives again.’