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Deforestation in Jefara Plain, Libya: Socio-economic and Policy Drivers (Algarabulli District case study)

Alsoul, Adnan H.K. (2016) Deforestation in Jefara Plain, Libya: Socio-economic and Policy Drivers (Algarabulli District case study). PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. In North Africa the most dramatic are a loss of habitat for wildlife, desertification, soil erosion, and climate change. In the Jefara plain, Libya, tree planting was undertaken to combat desertification and stabilize sand dunes and by 1984, 248,000 ha had been planted. However, these forest now suffer from severe deforestation, leading to serious encroachment of sand dunes, which now puts at risk those areas converted to agriculture. The major objective of this thesis was to understand the real causes of deforestation focussing mainly on socio-economic and policy drivers in Algarabulli District. Interviewed respondents stated that deforestation commenced in 1986, the major direct causes being agricultural expansion, building and road construction, and land trading. However, the major indirect cause contributing to deforestation was reported to be the change of forest governance in 1986; this led to an increase in corruption and a decrease in law enforcement, resulting in many land allocation contracts being issued to officers and government officials who then cleared forestland for themselves and later by local people. They reported that deforestation increased dramatically in the study zone after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, due to the total breakdown in governance. Interviews were also conducted with 20 government officials (in the Ministry of Agriculture and legal experts of in administrative and real estate law) Legislation, Forest Department records and policies were also reviewed. These findings agreed with those from research with local residents. Officials added that the former regime contributed to destruction of the forests indirectly by: giving orders to abolish the Ministry of Agriculture several times, encouraging burning of the Land Registry Centres, and distributing forest land to officials, all of which led to an increase the corruption and lack of law enforcement. This was despite the de jure adequacy of forest protection legislation. Remote sensing, using SPOT imagery was used to estimate the rate of land cover change. The results of supervised classification and ground truething showed a remarkable degree of agreement with other two methods (local residents’ estimates and Forest Department records): 27% of total forest area was cleared between 1986 and 2010, but after the fall of the Gaddafi regime another 35% was cleared between 2011 and 2013. Currently only 36% of the originally planted forest remains. Finally, a survey was conducted with 43 forest clearers. The results showed that population growth and density had not contributed to deforestation. Analysis of the characteristics of forest clearers found that 93% of respondents were educated, 100% were employed and their income was slightly higher than respondents who had not cleared forests. The main purpose of clearing forest after the 2011 uprising was to sell the land illegally, due to a tenfold increase in land prices, which incentivised land speculation and forest clearance as a means of money laundering. If deforestation continues at the current rate, all forests will be lost within three years. Due to the total breakdown in governance, deforestation in Libya nowadays is one of the biggest environmental challenges.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2016 13:31
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2016 13:31
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/6602
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