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Why is how to conserve Yemen's natural resources such a complex issue?

Since the beginning of the war in #Yemen, more than six million trees have been cut down to be used as fuel due to the scarcity of cooking gas. #Sana'a is one of the governorates most affected by this phenomenon.
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A qat farm in Yemen - Reuters

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Introduction:

According to a recent World Bank report, the world lost more than 10% of its trees in the year 2000 alone. Water quality is deteriorating in both rich and poor countries, endangering growth and harming public health. According to the report, air pollution now reduces average human life by 2.2 years and claims more lives each year than all wars and forms of violence combined. And 40% of all land is now degraded, exacerbating the climate crisis, reducing biodiversity, and jeopardizing food security.


What is natural capital?

Natural capital refers to natural resources and services that are essential to human well-being. This includes clean air, clean water, fertile soil, biodiversity, and a favorable climate. Natural capital is essential for supporting economic activity and sustaining life. Human societies would not be able to thrive without it. Understanding the value and significance of natural capital is therefore critical for making informed decisions about how natural resources are managed and used.


According to the findings of the World Bank's research, all countries in the world are misusing natural capital. Misallocation of natural capital can be caused by a variety of factors, including irrational subsidies, a lack of property rights security, and a failure to enforce protected area rules. Given the obvious risks posed by this misuse, the World Bank believes that efficient natural resource management is critical for overcoming difficult challenges in the future.


Efficient resource management can feed the entire world's population and even generate a surplus, and this can be accomplished without reducing economic growth rates or food production; that is, these gains can be obtained only by closing efficiency gaps and using our natural capital with maximum efficiency and rationality.


The Dilemma of protecting natural resources in Yemen

Despite this ray of hope, achieving efficiency aspiration is a difficult task. For countries in conflict, such as Yemen, preserving natural resources and efficiently managing them is not a top priority, such as preserving life and making a living. Countries in conflict frequently have limited resources and funding for conservation efforts; their primary focus is on resolving the conflict itself. Because of the scarcity of resources, it can be difficult to implement effective conservation strategies and protect their natural capital.


Furthermore, the conflict has the potential to displace communities and force them to abandon their traditional lands and livelihoods. This displacement may result in the loss of traditional knowledge and practices that have assisted in the maintenance and preservation of natural capital for generations.


Conflict, on the other hand, frequently results in the destruction of infrastructure, such as roads, power lines, and other basic facilities. This can hinder conservation efforts by making access to and protection of natural areas difficult. It can also disrupt conservation projects and initiatives, putting natural capital preservation at risk.


Conflict zones can turn into hotspots for illegal activities like poaching, illegal logging, and wildlife trafficking. These activities not only directly harm natural capital, but they also contribute to conflict financing, making conservation issues in these regions more difficult to address.


According to previous media reports, more than six million trees have been cut down in Yemen since the beginning of the war to be used as fuel due to a lack of cooking gas. Sana'a is one of the governorates hardest hit by this occurrence. Bakeries and restaurants frequently use firewood.


Excessive or unregulated reliance on fuel wood contributes to a loss of vegetation cover, which can cause long-term damage. Every year, an estimated 15 billion trees are cut down or burned around the world, while only 5 billion trees are planted in their place. That means the planet loses nearly 10 billion trees each year.


It is well established that removing vegetation reduces carbon dioxide uptake, soil erosion, floods, droughts, and other negative climate change impacts. Yemen has already been plagued by severe drought for four decades. The year 2022 has been recorded as one of the driest in the country in the last 40 years. Recent evidence also suggests that the country is experiencing an increase in extreme and unexpected weather events. Such as torrents and floods.


Conclusion:

While Yemen's ability to address the weakness of preserving its natural capital is limited, this does not mean that no strategies and means can be implemented, such as encouraging international cooperation, implementing sustainable development initiatives, supporting local communities, and empowering them to become resource stewards. Natural, encouraging ownership and responsibility.

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