A primary evaluation of Syrian forest damage since 2011: Alhamam and Alboz forests. (English)
This study evaluated the damage that has occurred to the Alhamam and Alboz forests located in the Syrian province of Idlib, since the start of the conflict in 2011. A multi-methods approach was developed combining inventories, remotely sensed satellite image analysis, a survey and focus group discussions to enable comparison and assessment of the damage between 2011 and 2017. Analysis of the data indicated a reduction in tree cover, density and plant diversity with the main cause being major internal displacement to the areas, an increased demand for firewood driven by a lack of alternatives and poverty due to unemployment, lack of enforcement of existing protection laws and local ignorance as to the importance of these forested areas. It is hoped that this study will encourage local authorities to develop and implement strategic protection plans, including public awareness-raising programmes amongst local communities, provision of alternative fuels, and the establishment of a new ‘forest protection’ force to enforce existing laws and protect the forests in the future.