Concerns of drying it out for business projects

New trees to replace those burnt in Mosul Forest fire

Ninewa, June 29, 2022: Burning of forests in Mosul on the western side of the city. Ninewa Civil Defense Media

By Majid Al-Abachi in Ninewa

Smoke rises from the left side of Mosul and quickly turns into a massive fume in the sky of the city, citizens predict the source of the smoke from a distance and hope that this time what they feel and think, does not turn out to be true.

The fire spread before the arrival of the fire brigade, when journalist Omar Hosseini arrived at the scene and started a live broadcast directly with his mobile phone, calling on young people to participate in extinguishing the fire, while the fire blaze was swallowing more and more trees.

“Every summer the forests of Mosul burn, but this time the fire was different. It was bigger. I was one of the people who arrived at the scene but there were fewer of us to work to extinguish the fire I called the fire brigade,” Hosseini said.

Civil defense teams with the help of young people at the scene were able to control the fire in eight hours by using four tankers of water.

Ahmad Jaffal, a journalist from Mosul, standing near the fire, said the situation was unstable. Someone called the provincial administration and asked provincial contractors to help them with vehicles, bulldozers and shovels.

Video of Mosul Forest fire on June 29, 2022

The fire on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, burned more than 60 acres of forest in Mosul, including trees that were 20 years old.

Lieutenant Saad Hammadi, spokesman for the Ninewa Civil Defense, told KirkukNow that the fire was brought under control at 7:30 pm with the participation of 20 civil defense teams and the assistance of the people and service institutions in the city.

Two fire fighters were injured, one of them broke his arm and the other suffered from asthma.

The Mosul Forest covers an area of ​​more than 900 acres on the eastern bank of the Tigris River and is surrounded by a fence to prevent fires.

Amir Abachi, reporter, sadly watching a wave of social media posts about the fire, wrote in comments warning about the occupation of the forest land, which has become a desirable target of many people who see it as a lucrative investment opportunity.

"After the fire, the forest will be dried up and then turned into a restaurant and a party hall," Abachi told KirkukNow.

Wednesday's incident was the fourth similar fire in recent years, one in 2017 during the operation to take control of the city, another in 2019 and then the third was in 2020.

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Ninewa, June 29, 2022: Mosul Forest fire was extinguished by firefighters and locals. Civil Defense Media

Hassam Khalil, the director of the Ninewa Civil Defense, who supervised the extinguishing of the fire, denied that the fire was deliberate or criminal act.

Abdul-Sattar Abou, director of Mosul municipalities, also in turn affirmed, “fire breaks out in all forests all over the world and we have plans for further green spots in the forests and compensation for the damage caused to the trees.”

On an area extending more than 800 dunums, the Mosul forests are located, which are adjacent to the Tigris River, as trees were cut down from these forests and sold as firewood under the rule of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS from 2014 to 2017.

Parts of the Mosul forests were deliberately burnt. This prompted Mosul Eye team to replace these trees and create parallel miniature forests that serve as a lung that supplies the city with a pure breath.

According to unofficial statistics, since 2003, Mosul has lost more than 50% of its trees and green spaces. This percentage rises throughout Iraq, which embraced 50 years ago a green area that took 60% of its total area, and it has shrunk due to wars and government carelessness to 5% only.

Iraq is one of the five countries in the world considered the most affected by the climate change.


The youth of Mosul concerned of deforestation

Anas Al-Tai, Executive Director of the Mosul Eye Project who proposed "Green Mosul" initiative and succeeded to plant over 10,000 trees in Mosul, launched a campaign to donate trees.

Al-Tai, who shared his project details with KirkukNow, rushed to the Mosul Forest but could not find anything except donating trees.

"I, Anas Tai, will donate 200 trees to compensate for the trees burned today," he wrote.

The idea attracted the attention of the locals and dozens of other activists, journalists and lawmakers in Ninewa quickly each donated a number of trees to compensate for the fire.

Yousef Muayyad, a health worker in Ninewa who was working in a hospital in Mosul at the time of the incident, saw the campaign on social media and shared the details with different departments of his workplace and encouraged them to donate about 500 trees.

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Ninewa, July 2022: Donation boxes to collect funds for re-greening the burnt Forest of Mosul. KirkukNow

According to the Iraqi Civil Defense, 13,600 fires were reported in the first six months of this year all over Iraq, excluding the Kurdistan Region of Iraq KRI, half of it caused by electrical short circuits.

Al-Tai, who regularly receives calls from people donating trees and plants, promised to fill Mosul's forests with new trees.

In addition to the campaign, the youth encouraged citizens to help with money donations to boxes installed in prominent areas of Mosul.

Mosul forests are currently waiting for 20,000 trees promised by Moslawis and other parts of Iraq.

The Mosul Municipality has issued a statement on the organization of the process of planting trees and selecting the species, calling for the abandonment of trees (Eucalyptus) and (Bologna) that are currently planted in the forests of Mosul by planting other species that its leaves do not fall and burn easily.

Since the second day after the fire, the process of leveling the forest has begun as the people of Mosul are determined to rebuild and revitalize the forest, as their ancestors did a hundred years ago.

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