The World Bank looks into the issue of fires in Algeria

The World Bank looks into the issue of fires in Algeria

Every year in Algeria, some 20 hectares are ravaged by flames, according to a World Bank report prepared jointly with the Algerian government and entitled “Note on Algerian forests: sustainable management of forests to combat forest fires”.

Thirty thousand football fields

This report, explains the international institution in a press release, identifies actions likely to strengthen the sustainability and climate resilience of the country's forest resources. As stipulated in its preamble, it establishes a precise diagnosis of the state of forests, the forestry sector and the investments necessary to manage this precious renewable natural resource, while contributing to fight forest fires.

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Made up of 59% maquis, Algerian forests, mainly state-owned and dominated by Aleppo pine (68%) and cork oak (21%), cover nearly 4,1 million hectares. Fires, overgrazing, agricultural expansion and climate change are the main causes of deforestation and the degradation of wooded areas, to the point that forests and trees today cover less than 1% of the country's land mass.

Published in 2021 by the Ministry of Energy Transition and Renewable Energy, a White Paper on the impact of climate change already highlighted that fires de Forests represent one of the greatest threats to life and economic activity in the country. We learn that Algeria was the scene of nearly 3 fires between 000 and 2010, and that these disasters devastate the equivalent of 2019 football fields each year.

In 2020, annual asset losses amounted to more than 1,5 billion dinars (11 million dollars) and compensation paid to the victims at 600 million dinars (4,4 million dollars).

Greener growth

The World Bank report covers major topics such as forest fires, participatory management, development de value chains and the consequences of global warming. It also provides an in-depth analysis of the legal, institutional and socio-economic aspects of the forestry sector in Algeria, and recommends a series of measures.

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For Kamel Braham, resident representative of the World Bank in Algeria, this report is “a road map for sustainable management of forest resources, reduction of fire risks and exploitation of the potential of forests for greener growth, job creation and better climate resilience”.

In addition to fires, the Algerian forest is subject to other causes, direct or indirect, of deforestation and degradation, such that clearing for agriculture, construction, grazing [the action of grazing herds], illegal logging, desertification, overexploitation of resources and climate change, which threaten to worsen the risk of wildfires. forests as well as the frequency and intensity of periods of drought.

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During the period 1985-2022, note the authors of the report, the annual number of forest fires has increased, even if the ravaged area remains relatively stable. But in recent years, large forest fires have been observed. They occasionally have a considerable human and economic impact and are mainly concentrated in the six wilayas. coastal going from Tizi Ouzou to El Tarf, which have the highest rate of forest cover. In 2021 and 2022, material damage was estimated at 15,4 billion dinars ($114,4 million) for agriculture and 1,5 billion dinars ($11 million) for homes.

Wood quality

The World Bank also welcomes Algeria's efforts to strengthen the collection of data relating to the causes of forest fires, with the aim of implementing awareness, communication and integration strategies. all stakeholders to better prevent risk. The report highlights also the economic role of forests, which have always held an important place in the Algerian economy due to the richness and quality of their wood. The country, however, faces the challenge of meeting growing needs while its natural resources are vulnerable and declining.

Official figures from the General Directorate of Finance indicate that formal logging is declining. As a result, the sector rather promotes non-wood forest products (cork, carob, thyme, pine, rosemary, mastic, etc.), whose ecological, economic and social value continues to grow. The demand for markets for forest products, particularly for essential oils, is increasing. Furthermore, forests offer citizens moments of well-being: 7 million people have visited National Parks in 2021.

The report, which identifies five crucial areas, emphasizes the importance of placing sustainable forest management and fire risk analysis at the heart of interventions. It recommends continuing to strengthen the technical capacities of the sector to ensure effective management of forests and fires, and recommends better information management through strengthening inter-institutional collaboration. Mediafixer The authors of the report nevertheless emphasize that, despite the importance of the efforts made, significant additional human and logistical needs are required.

Algeria, the World Bank readily acknowledges, has always carried special attention to sustainable forest management to foster economic growth, improve people's livelihoods and protect the global environment, including combating climate change, conserving biodiversity and combating land degradation.

National reforestation plan

A set of ambitious strategies, plans and legislative texts has also been developed to support the implementation of public policies in the sector, such as the National Reforestation Plan, the Forestry Strategy for 2035, the Forest Fire Prevention and Fight Strategy and the National Forest Fire Prevention and Management Plan 2021-2030.

However, the report recommends opening the sector to private investment, greater involvement of populations living around forest areas and strengthening compliance with the rules in order to better protect natural spaces. Finally, he advises increasing financial and technical resources in order to face growing threats, such as the gigantic fires that occurred during these latest years.

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