Illegal logging, locusts, and livestock grazing threaten environment and agriculture in Darfur

Lorries loaded with charcoal, Delling, South Kordofan (Abdelrahim Kunda)


Native administration leaders, activists, and other people in Reheid El Berdi, South Darfur, have reported illegal logging for firewood and charcoal, along with threats to agricultural crops by pests and livestock. 

Residents of the locality told Radio Dabanga that there have been “fierce attacks on the forests in the area. “A large part of the population suffers from poverty, forcing them to trade firewood and charcoal” to meet their basic needs, a community leader explained. 

“Military forces are using their vehicles to trade firewood and charcoal, and they are highly successful,” he said. 

The sources called for the Forests Law to be activated to limit the destruction of trees, adding that “there were rare trees that have completely disappeared, which is a huge loss for the environment in the region.” 

Farmers in Reheid El Berdi reported to Radio Dabanga that high numbers of locusts threaten winter crops and the spread of herbaceous plants that hold groundwater on which the sorghum crops depend. 

The farmers also called on the authorities to put more effort into protecting their farms from livestock being moved onto their farms and destroying winter crops they hope to harvest before mid-February. Darfur has a long history of strife between nomadic Arab herders and sedentary farmers. 

Sorghum crops achieved high productivity during the winter season this year in Reheid El Berdi locality, according to South Darfur Minister of Agriculture Hammad Mousa.  

On Monday, the minister inaugurated the harvesting operations for many farms on the banks of the valley near the village of Amtajok Shafo. 

He said that the success of the winter harvest of corn is a great achievement. Production inputs will be provided to farmers, he said, asking them to form associations for agricultural production to obtain funding. Two existing farmers’ associations will be financed to buy agricultural equipment as a first stage, he said. 

The minister listened to the demands of farmers, which focused on securing the agricultural season, providing production inputs, combating agricultural pests, as well as providing basic services in the villages, the most important of which are drinking water, health, and education. 

Tree logging 

The environmental degradation caused by tree logging is impacting one of Sudan’s most important industries: Gum Arabic production. “People are not actually aware of the dangers of deforestation,” economic and political analyst Hafiz Ismail explained in an RD feature on climate change. 

The felling of trees is also linked to increased desertification. The felling of trees, overgrazing of land, and poor agricultural practice also lead to erosion, falling groundwater levels, and wildfires, Kunda Markazu from the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan explained in the feature, published on November 17. 

In April 2021, people in neighbouring Ed El Fursan locality staged a sit-in to protest the illegal felling of trees.  

The sit-in demanded the dismissal of the Forestry Department director in the locality and the application of the Forests Law. 

Ibrahim Zakaria, agricultural engineer and member of the People’s Committee for Forest Protection, called the inaction from authorities a big problem. Having worked in the forestry sector for a decade, he observed how easy it is for people to violate the Sudanese Forest Law as authorities allow anyone to cut trees, regardless of the species. 

Sudan’s Chairman of the Sovereignty Council and Leader of Sudan’s Armed Forces, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, reportedly proposed a number of projects that would remedy the effects of Africa’s current environmental crisis in his COP27 address to a number of heads of state, government officials, and leaders of various organisations last year.