Hearts, Minds, and Trees: Forestry's Role in Operation Enduring Freedom
Watershed rehabilitation, including reforestation, is critical to the success of Operation Enduring Freedom and to Afghanistan's development strategy. However, Afghanistan's natural resource management is characterized by weak government authority, little stakeholder input beyond the local level, and poor protection and maintenance of existing natural resources. Grassland and shrub planting, in conjunction with range protection strategies and hillslope terracing, are being planned to provide primary watershed stabilization as a prerequisite to potential irrigation infrastructure improvement. Planting native conifer and oak and other locally available species will also serve to reverse long-term degradation of fuelwood and timber resources. Natural resources improvement work also provides licit employment as a positive alternative to income opportunities sponsored by the Taliban and other antigovernment elements. Additional American foresters and watershed managers working on the ground in Afghanistan will further the efforts of the few professionals already involved in these endeavors.
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