How Far Does Sudan Preserve its Green Plants on Which All Organisms Depend for Survival?

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW) - The sacred position of the tree in human life is an endless story. The Holy Koran speaks about Ascension of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) to the 7th sky in the company of the angel Gabriel, ending at Sidrat al-Muntaha (the tree in heaven where people of piety are made to stay for ever).
The adequate clues of uncountable benefits of trees could be seen in Allah (The Almighty) elaborate description of trees in the Koran.
Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) ordered Muslims according to the Hadith: ‘’ A person possessing a plant in hand must plant it even if it was the day of judgement. ‘’

Generally speaking trees have socioeconomic, cultural and environmental benefits. Doctor of forests science and former chief of the Forests Department Abdel Azim Merghani reminds us that: ‘’ If it was not because of green plants no single creature on earth could have been able to breathe or eat. Nearly 25 million square miles on earth are covered with green plants and trees. In these green plants exist the Allah’s miracle known as photosynthesis, a process which produces oxygen and food.’’
Dr. Merghani said leaves plants have the characteristics of sucking carbon dioxide from the air and reproducing oxygen instead without which a human being cannot breathe.
He went on to say that all food consumed annually by world population, estimated for 375 billion tones, is produced directly or indirectly by plants and trees.
‘’As well, ‘’ he said, ‘’ all life - saving drugs are produced from trees or plants. Sugar, oil and fats which are needed by human beings from birth to death are all found in plants.’’
The indirect benefits of plants could be seen in fodder consumed by animals which are also a source of food for human beings, added Dr. Merghani.

Dr. Abdul Azim Mirghani
Dr. Abdul Azim Mirghani

Take for instance three trees which are growing in Sudan and elsewhere. The Baobab tree (local name tabaldi tree) has forty economic, cultural and other benefits. In Sudan it is grown abundantly in Northern Kordofan, Dr. Merghani says. Economically, its fruits are used as juice rich in vitamin C and its trunk is used for storing water, beside many other benefits. Culturally, the people of Kordofan consider the tabaldi tree as sign of highness and glory. During Mahdist war against the British colonialism, the Ansar fighters believed that a tabaldi had fallen like thunderbolt fallen on heads of the Infidels (their enemy – the British soldiers) , Merghani said. ‘’The tabaldi tree is deeply rooted in Northern Kordofan legacy. The flag of Northern Kordofan state carries a picture of a tabaldi tree. This shows how the tree influences the culture and legacy of Kordofan,’’ Dr. Merghani highlights.

Tabaldi tree
Tabaldi tree
Haraz tree
Haraz tree

Another example is neem tree (the Azadirachta indica). In India the villagers use its leaves to protect cereals kept in traditional silos because the neem tree doesn’t get sick, Dr. Merghani said. A substance extracted from the neem tree fruits is used in producing toothpaste.

The third example is al-haraz tree. In West African counties the people there believe in this tree as sacred and must be protected for the many benefits they get from it, Dr. Merghani said. In 1860 the Niger’s Sultan issued a decree stipulating that any person who may dare to cut off a haraz tree shall be beheaded. Forest experts say al-haraz tree leaves fall in the rainy season. The tree then remains completely bare of leaves but the strange thing is that its flowers appear when the tree is bare of leaves.
However this strange characteristic is very important for bees. When all flowers of other trees disappear al-haraz tree blossoms provide for bees a rich source of nectar, experts say. Another characteristic of al-haraz tree in the rainy season— is that plants grown under al-haraz tree are able to reach sun light unlike those grown under lush and shadowy trees (sun light is very necessary for the plants growth), according to Dr. Merghani.
Moreover he adds that in dry season when all trees leaves are fallen al-haraz tree is covered with leaves and carries fruits.
This characteristic offers shadows for animals in hot weather and provides fruits for them as fodder.
Again, Dr. Meghani said al-haraz is a nitrogen- fixing tree which is necessary for land manure. So , according to Dr. Merghani, people in West Africa are linked economically, socially and culturally to al-haraz tree as source of life.
Trees environmental effect could not be missed in any way. A new study found that an additional ten trees on a given block corresponded to a one percent in how healthy nearby residents felt.
In 1984 a researcher named Roger UIrich noticed a curious pattern among patients who were recovering from gallbladder surgery at a suburban hospital in Pennsylvania, reported Alex Hutchinson, in an article posted on TreePeople website.
The article stated that those who had been given rooms overlooking small field of deciduous trees were being discharged almost a day sooner in average, than those in otherwise identical rooms whose windows faced a wall.
This is the riddle that underlies a new study in the journal of scientific reports by a team of researchers in The United States , Canada , and Australia led by the University of Chicago psychology professor Marc Berman.
The study compares two large data sets from the city of Toronto both gathered on block-by block level; the first measures the distribution of green space as determined from satellite imagery and a comprehensive list of five hundred and thirty thousand trees planted on public lands. And the second measures health as assessed by a detailed survey of ninety thousand respondents. Berman and his colleagues showed that an additional ten trees on a given block corresponded to one percent increase in how healthy nearby residents felt. Berman, though, hopes that more trees are being planted.

Botanic Garden, Khartoum
Botanic Garden, Khartoum



Back to Sudan it was known in ancient history as a country of trees and abundant forests. A visitor to archeological areas at al-Naga, Musawirat and Bigirawia could spot out from the ancient life style and pictures that Sudan was an area of running rivers, forests and intertwined trees. Antiquities show Sudan was habitat for elephants and other wildlife species. This represents conclusive clues that Sudan was an area hosting abundant forests and trees.
However deterioration started after ecological change and the growing of various human activities by the introduction of the iron industry in the Old Merowe Kingdom, Dr. Merghani informed Sudanow.
He adds that during that era wood had been used as source of energy. When the British Army invaded Sudan in 1893 led by Commander Kitchener the preserved area for forests was estimated at 46 percent of Sudan’s total area. It is to be recalled that Sudan’s total area was one million square miles.
The striking thing was that when Kitchener invaded Sudan he brought varieties of trees with him including the Ficus currently grown alongside the Nile Avenue in Khartoum. Al-ban and camphor trees were introduced in 1917 and grown in Shambat. In 1959 more than 155 varieties of trees were introduced in Wad Medani under supervision and management of the forests research department. The idea was to get quick-growing to replace the local slow growing types, Dr. Merghani stated.
Dr. Meghani stated that the national forests saved nearly 2 billion dollars annually for national treasury through availing 71 percent of nationwide energy consumption (charcoal and firewood).
By the Sudan independence in 1956 the forests preserved area dropped to 36 percent. The biggest reduction was made in 2011 due to the secession of South Sudan, that left Sudan with just 10 percent of forest land.
According to Dr, Merghani a plan was set to replant more trees in Sudan and increase forests preserved areas by 25 percent of Sudan‘s total area. In the Gezira state, for instance, a horticultural project, which was started since the year 2014, targeted the plantation of 18 million trees of mango, palm dates and other different varieties, undersecretary at the ministry of animal wealth and natural resources in Gezira Safedeen Aboud has said.

In the White Nile state the minister of agriculture Mohamed Abd Allah Omar said his ministry was working to preserve 25 percent of its land for forests according to presidential decree besides growing 10 percent of rain- fed agricultural projects with forests.


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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