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50 years left for the forests?

At the current rate of deforestation, it is predicted that from 2008 to 2055, some 3.5 million hectares of forests that are now believed to exist will disappear, leaving behind a wasteland. 

Experts analyze deforestation and expected results of a "green revolution" promoted by the government since 2007

Nicaraguans do not know exactly how much forest is.  The answers to these questions are expected to given within the result of the Forest Inventory Report in February this year to usher in an era of sustainable use of forests in Nicaragua.

Some studies warn that continuing the current pace of deforestation in less than 50 years 3,500,000 hectares of trees will be a wasteland.  It is known that 70 percent of the more than 130 square kilometers in the country is forests, and in these areas there are no conditions for agriculture and livestock, because the organic matter that is very thin, and if the agricultural frontier advances are exposed to wind erosion and the impact of the rains as well as the potential for violent and sustainable development of forests.

Although there is still no diagnosis of the situation of the natural resources of Nicaragua, which contributes to making wise decisions on the part of key people on the management of forests, the director of the National Forestry Institute (INAFOR), William Schwartz, has made some caveats.

In remarks to a weekly close to the government, Schwartz warned that to continue at the current rate of deforestation from 2008 to 2055, some 3.5 million hectares of forests that are now believed to exist will disappear.

David Morales, an expert in the nongovernmental organization Center Humboldt, told Reuters that an estimated annual loss in Nicaragua between 70 thousand and 150 thousand hectares of forests for various causes, including irrational logging, fires, pests and development of the agricultural frontier .

The fires, according to official sources, have been declining in recent years.  According to figures from the National Forestry Institute, in 2006 there were 2300 fires.

According to data supplied by the deputy minister Araquistain, in 2007 the number of forest fires was 1900 and in 2008 dropped to 1,300, after checking that in 1996, when Nicaragua began working with the help of satellites, the fires were 9800 .

On September 4, 2007 Northern Caribbean Nicaragua was ravaged by Hurricane Felix, which affected 1.3 million hectares of forest and knocked 10 million cubic meters of wood.

According to figures from the Center Humboldt, now annually draws between 150 thousand and 250 thousand cubic meters of wood, which left between 17 and 23 million dollars between 2000 and 2005.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MARENA) and INAFOR have invested 9 million cordobas ($ 454,086) since 2007 in the National Reforestation program to reduce fires and planted thousands of trees.

Araquistain stressed that during those years 40 hectares of agroforestry plants have been planted.

He noted that this work has involved the addition of Marena, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAGFOR) INAFOR and the governments of the South and North Caribbean of Nicaragua, as well as allies in the productive rural areas.

He stressed that the government nurseries, the allies of the production system in the country, including sugar mills have produced 14 million plants for reforestation.

Nevertheless, David Morales, an official of the subject incident Humboldt Forest Center, still have no opinion on the impact of the Crusade in the country, while acknowledging that it was a good effort.

Morales believes that this is not much so reforesting, as is necessary, but follow-up to the growth of trees and to replenish what has been damaged by fire and livestock and agriculture.

He notes that many rivers by deforested areas have disappeared or reduced flow, while others are contain contaminated aquifers.

Nicaragua has said that areas where the rains are inadequate, though the phenomenon is not the advancement of desert areas, the regions are degraded, dead or obsolete, since there are no conditions for people to settle or to permit the development of human activities or trade.

Filadelfo Martinez / Reuters
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