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SSPDF accused of deforestation in Mundri East County

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Charcoal for sale at Jebel market in Juba | File picture

A local chief in Lozoh Payam of Mundri East County says some members of the organized forces are randomly cutting down trees for charcoal in the area.

Olivier Mathew Bona alleged that SSPDF soldiers deployed there are among those clearing the forests for their survival.

Bona says the activity has reportedly been occurring due to lack of food for the soldiers there.

He is now calling on the army leadership in Juba to provide the soldiers with timely food at their centers.

This, according to her will reduce dependence on charcoal as the only mean for survival.

“These are our soldiers in our country, so I am thinking the government should think of giving them something. If they have money and if there is food, they will not think of going to the bush to cut trees”, Olivier Mathew Bona spoke to Eye Radio on Wednesday.

In South Sudan, a foot soldier receives roughly 1,800 pounds or $6 per month.

However, such an amount is not paid regularly.

With the economic crisis and high market prices, observers argue that such an amount cannot cover basic needs of a soldier, his wife and children.

When contacted by Eye Radio, the SSPDF Spokesperson, Major General Lul Ruai Koang declined to comment on the matter.

According to the UN Environment Program, despite South Sudan being one of Africa’s lowest population densities, the country’s forests remain under immense pressure from charcoal and fuel wood production and consumption.

The 2018 State of the Environment Outlook Report, said fuel wood and charcoal account for over 80 percent of all wood used in South Sudan, with an annual deforestation rate estimated at between 1.5 and 2 percent.

However, local consumption is not the only threat, as rapid urbanization and demand from neighboring countries, including Sudan, Uganda, and the Middle East, also drive the market for charcoal.

The activities persist despite a 2015 order by the Ministry of Environment banning the illegal cutting of trees and exporting of logs and charcoal.

Last year, South Sudan environmental researchers called on the government to investigate illegal charcoal exports in the country.

According to environmentalists, vast lands in South Sudan are being left empty by people cutting trees.

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