The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies is hosting a panel discussion Monday afternoon on the role of forest management in the Afghanistan conflict. It’s not unusual for valuable natural resources, such as timber or diamonds, to play a role in military conflicts. For example, about a decade ago, the regime in cut down forests and used the money from timber sales to buy weapons.
In the Vietnam War, the United States destroyed trees, using the herbicide Agent Orange, as a way to deny the enemy cover.
Dante Paradiso of the U.S. State Department, one of the speakers at the Yale event, says in some areas of Afghanistan deforestation is widespread. The State Department, U.S. AID and the Department of Defense have developed a program to train young Afghani men to manage the forests for long-term sustainability And Paradiso says there’s a second goal. "In many of these areas, unemployed youth can be drawn into the insurgency because they pay something. So what we were trying to do was give them, the local people, a greater stake in the management of their own resources and at the same time give them a respectable professional opportunity which would then drain the available recruiting pool for the insurgency.”
So far, the U.S. government has trained 13 Afghani supervisors who are now training about 50 foreman. The next step is for the foremen to train 250 young men from mountain villages in forest management.