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Deforestation: Charcoal: exported by Africa, bought by Europe
December 29, 2017
Charcoal from tropical forests has a terrible effect on the environment, but it also puts food on peoples' tables. Nigeria is one of the world's largest exporters — and some of it even ends up on German barbecue grills.
Felling, transporting and piling up logs of wood is back-breaking work. "Sometimes we're in the bush for weeks before we've collected enough wood," explains Domingo Philip (above), who heads the team of young men. They cover the two meter (78 inch) high pile of wood with earth and start up a fire. The wood now needs to smoulder for about 11 days. Then the charcoal is ready for Philip and his men to sell.
The area where they cut the wood is Edumanom Forest Reserve. The 9,000-hectare tropical forest lies in the oil-rich Niger Delta in southern Nigeria. It's home to Nigeria's last chimpanzees. But the fragile ecosystem is in danger, not only from the oil industry but also from the woodcutting. The trees are cut down, and the burning process produces fumes that are harmful to the people and the environment. It poisons the groundwater and the surrounding soil. Moreover, immense carbon emissions are produced.