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Adventures in Arboriculture


ALGERIA | Tuesday, 24 March 2009 | Views [2251]

Across Edjeri Plain

Across Edjeri Plain

That night we slept within a small stone shelter, a stones throw from the cypress tree, and the next morning we would venture through Tamrit, the 'Valley of the Cypresses' where there is a dense concentration of trees. It is cold here at night, Im fully clothed in a three season bag, with a thick blanket too. The wind picks up at dusk blowing across the plateau and down its sides to fill the vacuum created by the hot rising air over the lowlands. Come dawn, a coffee is most welcomed as the sun warms the rocks.

After breakfast Wawa guides me through the corridors of eroded stone to see Tamrit - he shows me where there are still pools of water in some of the hollows that have been undercut into the cliff by the floodwater. It is interesting to note that right across the Sahara more people are killed from drowning than from thirst or heat. The last rains here were probably in October (no one knows for sure) and despite it not raining in the town of Djanet (2000 meters below us) for 4 years - most years the town is subject to damage from the floods as the water surges down the mountainside. We encountered 17 Cypress trees in this valley, in varying states of health. On some the faded numbers can still just be traced from a survey that was carried out 1972. That year a top Algerian Forester spent 3 months on the plateau, trying to find all the trees by talking to the herders that graze their stock here. Wawa tells me that in the latest survey of 2002 they also found 23 new trees but that a further 20 had died. Most of these deaths have occurred due to grazing and the cutting of branches and roots for firewood. Refugees from Niger crossing into Libya and of course nomadic herdsmen trying to keep themselves warm - Winter temperatures can drop to a known-7 and snow is not unknown.

Tags: algeria, tamrit, tassili najjer, trees

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