Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wood is good. In Niger, wood is really good. And that is bad.

More than 90 percent of Niger’s domestic energy comes from wood. As a whole, the country uses up 3.4 million tons of wood every year. With a rapidly growing population, Nigeriens should be cutting down and using 4.2 million tons. Being located next to the Sahara desert, that’s not such a good thing.

The Sahara has already swallowed up two-thirds of Niger's surface area and continues to progress at a rate of 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) every year, according to the environmental website Mongabay.

The desertification advances despite the planting of more than 60 million trees in this western African nation between 1985 and 1997.

Specialists say the desert is creeping towards the west and the south of the country, where the last forests remain, at a rate of six kilometres (four miles) every year.

Between 1990 and 2005, Niger lost 679,000 hectares of tropical forest, more than one-third of its total wooded land, Mongabay said on its website.


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