A primary evaluation of Syrian forest damage since 2011: a case study of Alhamam and Alboz forest sites

M Aldakhil, S Abdullateef, F Mahmoud, A Alhasan, A Lakmes, M Al abdullah, Gr Watmough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Forests and trees make vital contributions to well-being, economic activities, ecosystem functioning and global system dynamics. There has been a lack of studies on the evaluation of the drivers of Syrian forest damage during the current conflict. This study estimated the damage since 2011 in the Alhamam and Alboz forest sites in Idlib province of Syria and evaluated the drivers of this damage. A multidimensional approach to damage assessment was developed which combined forest plot inventories, remotely sensed satellite image analysis, questionnaires and focus groups to enable a comparison of the forest from 2011 and 2017. The plot inventory data and remote sensing analysis provided estimates of forest damage and loss whilst focus groups and questionnaires provided vital information on the drivers of forest loss which is required for developing reforestation programmes. Overall, forest inventory data and satellite image analysis results indicated a reduction in tree cover, density and plant diversity. The results indicate a much higher loss of forest than is available from global products such as Global Forest Watch due to the prevalence in Syria of low-density Oak forests such as Alhamam not being classed as forest. The results of questionnaires and focus groups showed that the main cause of damage was an increased demand for fire-wood driven by a lack of fuel oil and increased unemployment, reduced household incomes and general price rises, making fuel more unaffordable. Respondents to surveys generally understood the importance of trees and forests and overtime the local knowledge of the importance of forest resources had not changed. This multidimensional approach indicates a reduced capacity of institutions to protect forests and will help to establish strategic plans to serve and protect the forest in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-154
JournaliForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2023


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