JUBA, March 21 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan said on Saturday it has entered into a partnership with the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to plant 100 million trees in the next five years to fight deforestation.
Joseph Africano Bartel, undersecretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of South Sudan, said the east African country has an estimated 29 percent forest cover but is losing its forests at the rate of 1.5 to 2 percent annually due to deforestation and forest degradation.
"One of the plans we have right now in collaboration with UN Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) is to plant 100 million trees in the next five years," Bartel said in Juba.
Bartel, who spoke at a closed-door ceremony to mark world forest day in the ministry, said the illegal timber and charcoal trades are causing rapid deforestation and loss of natural resources.
"We are marking the international day of the forest to raise awareness and address issues of conversation, capacity building, reforestation, plantation management and agroforestry, which contributes towards national economic growth," said Bartel.
Josephine Napwon Cosmos, minister of environment and forestry, said the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity will boost the work government and other stakeholders to implement the 2015 country's forest policy.
"In South Sudan, forest plays a crucial role in meeting people's energy needs, in poverty alleviation and the provision of other environmental goods and services," Napwon said.
According to the 2018 country's first environment outlook report, 96 percent of the local population depends on charcoal for cooking resulting in rapid deforestation in South Sudan.
Meshack Malo, the FAO representative in South Sudan, said the UN food agency will continue to support the ministry on come up with innovative ways and practical solutions to fight deforestation in the young nation for the next few years.