Published: 20 June 2018
The Sunut forest lies at the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile; at about 164 hectares. It is one of the few remaining urban forests in the Sudan. It falls within the flyway of the migratory birds from Eurasia to Africa and is an important educational site for students, recreational area for Greater Khartoum City dwellers and important site for researchers and bird watchers.
The bird sanctuary extends over 15 kilometers along the White Nile River bank and includes cultivated areas and islands.
Despite its official declaration as a forest reserve since 1932, and a bird sanctuary in 1945, this forest has been subject to several attempts that aimed at clearing it's trees and avail its prime land for investment.
In 2001, the Ministry of Engineering of the state of Khartoum drew plans for changing it into a business centre with a five stars hotel, a golf course and green areas. The plan was opposed by the Forests National Corporation (FNC) and the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS).
The SECS which is a member of Sudan Nile Discourse Forum (SNDF) spearheaded the advocacy and a public signatures campaign that resulted in abandoning the plan.
Another trial opposed by SECS was a plan led by the State of Khartoum, the Sunut Company, and the FNC to encompass the forest in the grand plans of the Sunut Business District, thus changing the nature of the forest and affecting its ecosystem and biodiversity.
The current situation of the reserve deforestation, and plan to change its status affects its ecosystem and biodiversity; also the surrounding areas' residents who use it as a dumpsite and sanitation outlet with no or little attention of the Authorities of the State of Khartoum is great threat.
However, it is noteworthy to mention the commendable intervention of Environmental Council of the State of Khartoum which is monitoring the vegetation change in the forest and has advanced an integrated proposal for fencing, protecting and providing amenities for the forest to enhance its role in providing a recreational area for all the people.
The Forest National Corporation, the Wildlife Conservation General Administration, and the relevant CSOs should exert more efforts to protect the Sunut Forest and make it a functioning and attractive urban park.