Published: 20 August 2018
The Blue Nile has a unique Ecosystem as it enters the Sudan. It forms shallow meadows (Mayaas) that constitute an outlet for the flood water in the rainy season.
Acacia Nilotica (Sunut) trees are the dominant species in these meadows. The Forests National Corporation (FNC) has reserved about 16,000 feddans (6,720 ha) as national reserved forests for the protection of the Blue Nile water course.
The Sunut tree is one of a few trees that can withstand waterlogging with water for more than 3 months, that is why it has grown naturally along the banks of the Blue Nile River.
Recently, the Governor of the State of Sennar has declared that his state intends to replace all the Sunut forests with Mango and banana trees for export purposes.
The Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forests has established a scientific committee to investigate this issue and produce scientific recommendations.
In July 2018, the Sudanese Environment Conservation Society in partnership with the Attorney General Chambers held an environmental press forum to advocate for the saving of the Sunut forests.
The forum was convened at the premises of the Attorney General Chambers as part of the Sustainable Development Forum.
Five panelists presented various aspects about the issue of the Sunut forests. Two attorneys highlighted the constitutional and legislative aspects of the forests in general and the reserved forests in particular.
They pointed to the fact that the legislation has paid special protection to the reserved forests and the gazetting process needs the approval of the Council of Ministers and the President of the Republic of Sudan.
Prof. Talaaat Dafalla, from the University of Bahri highlighted the ecological importance of the Sunut Forests as a niche for fish breeding and as a birds’ sanctuary. Prof. Nawal Khidir, who is a member of the General Assembly and a member of the scientific committee established by the Minister of Agriculture described their visit to the state of Sennar and the meeting with the Governor.
She stressed the importance of the Sunut forests as a natural outlet for the flood water and slowing of the River flow to minimize the River bank erosion in the upstream.
On the side of Mr. Siddig Freeny, from the Local Governance Chamber any state has no jurisdiction over federal reserved forests.
Among other participants of the forum were newspaper journalists, Attorneys, CSOs representatives, representatives of the Pastoralists Union from the state of Sennar, FNC representatives including the current Director General (DG) and two former Director Generals, and representatives of the Ministry of Irrigation, Water Resources and Electricity.
The representative of the Pastoralists Union indicated that the Sunut forests are used as grazing and browsing areas for the livestock in the dry season. The other participants called for a concerted campaign to save the Sunut forests from destruction.
Partcipants agreed to continue the campaign aiming to advocate for saving the Sunut forests in the state of Sennar.