In 1991 about 4 million hectares of forest remained in Algeria
according to official estimates, but most experts thought that
reality fell far short of that figure. The area covered by forests
had been dwindling for decades despite government efforts to increase
wooded acreage and prevent the erosion of cultivable land. The
1985-89 plan included a project to reforest 364,000 hectares.
An earlier twenty-year project begun in 1975 had initiated the
construction of a 1,500-kilometer-long green barrier (barrage
vert) of forest along the northern edge of the Sahara from
Morocco to Tunisia. Although the project managed in theory to
increase the total forest area by 10 percent annually, the percentage
being swallowed up by the desert and by sheep grazing was greater.
A state monopoly, the National Association of Cork and Wood Industries
(Société Nationale des Industries des Lièges et du Bois), operated
the timber industry. The industry processed more than 300,000
cubic meters of wood and cork in 1991. Algeria ranked third in
world cork production, after Spain and Portugal.
Data as of December 1993