Tunisia may lose 18,000 ha of cork oaks by 2050

Tunisia may lose 18,000 hectares of its cork oak forest by 2050, given current degradation factors and the climate change impacts, warns the National Observatory of Agriculture (ONAGRI) in its monthly review “ONAGRI Vigilance.”

Drawing on the conclusions of a seminar on the Tunisia’s cork oak forest, organised last October in Tabarka by the Tunisian Water and Forestry Association in collaboration with the Directorate General of Forests and the National Institute for Research in Rural Engineering, Water and Forests (INRGREF), the review outlined the current situation and the outlook of the national cork oak forest.

The latter is constantly shrinking in size due to fires (17,500 ha between 1970 and 2020), land clearance, overgrazing and tree dieback caused by climate change.

The two forest inventories conducted in 1995 and 2005 showed a decline in the surface area of the cork oak forest at an average of 600ha per year. The Observatory further underlined that climate change simulations carried out in the cor
k oak forest indicate that under the current degradation conditions, an area of 18,000 ha will disappear by 2050.

ONAGRI also said that the exploitation of the cork oak forest is an important socio-economic stake, given the job opportunities, fodder potential (annual production of acorns: 7.6 million fodder units) and income that it offers the local population. It also supplies cork, which represents an economic challenge for government revenue (50% of forest product sales) and private-sector economic operators.

However, cork production is low, dropping from 9,000 tonnes in 1960-1980 to the current average of 4,000 tonnes a year.

The participants in the seminar further raised the need to initiate discussions on the development of Tunisian cork oaks with the participation of forest experts, reserchers, forestry teachers, manufacturers, forestry technicians and the civil society.

They also called for the need to encourge initiatives to set up companies and micro-projects for the forest population and to rev
iew the cork stripping coefficients, in a bid to increase the national production by 20 to 30%.

Source: EN – Agence Tunis Afrique Presse