Somalilandsun – Environmental activists in Sanag region of northern Somalia say they have succeeded in curbing wide-scale illegal tree cutting for charcoal burning. Mohamed Ahmed Botan, a veteran environmental activist, told Radio Ergo’s producer Mohamed that they had expelled 502 charcoal burners from a 350 square km area, after receiving complaints from pastoralist communities over the degraded land and pasture reports Radio Ergo
The environmental activists achieved the backing of the local community after educating them on the importance of stopping the environmental degradation in the area. “After researching the magnitude of the problem, we tried to involve the community by creating awareness about the dangers of environmental degradation, particularly among the pastoralist communities,” said Botan, who started his environmental work in 2004.
He said 18 people had died and scores of others had been injured in their efforts over the last 10 years. Botan, who has worked alongside award-winning environmental campaigner Fatima Jibrell, has faced numerous security threats related to his work. He was arrested in September 2007 and accused of fuelling political conflict masked as environmental activism. Despite all the challenges, he said he was happy with the achievements so far, saying close engagement with the community was key to progress.
The next target would be the 120 km stretch of coastline between Bosasso and Lasqorey, Botan said, where he aims to launch a campaign against the worsening environmental degradation.
He urged local people to support the effort to preserve the natural environment. Sanag is one of the regions worst affected by deforestation and burning because charcoal is trucked from there to Bosasso port for export to the Gulf States.