The History of Deforestation


Deforestation originated from the Fertile Crescent, where civilization first emerged. The forest Journey is an episode of the Epic of Gilgamesh that includes a great understanding of the ecological processes and the consequences of human actions on forests. Enlil, the Sumerian chief, protected the forests by assigning Humbaba- a very strong demigod- the task of protecting the interests of nature against the desires of civilizations. Enlil knew that the unlimited appetite of civilization will remove all the gods’ beautiful garden of trees. On the other side of the story, there was a man called Gilgamesh, the ruler of Uruk- a city-kingdom in southern Mesopotamia that evolved 4,700 years ago. Uruk thought that his immortality can be assured through the material greatness of his city. He wanted large amounts of timber to accomplish his plans, and he set his sight on the cedars of Lebanon, which are a species of pine trees . As a consequence, Gilgamesh and his companions began to “cut the cedars, chopped their branches and trunks into transportable sizes”. A fight erupted between the intruders and the mighty forest demigod. At the end, the greed of civilization won. After that, the Sumerian civilization began to witness the devastating effects of deforestation. Once large quantities of trees were felled near the banks of the upper courses of rivers, salt and silt as well as timber filled the waters, and clogged up the irrigation canals. Also, the southern mountains were eroded. The decline in food products occurred due to the presence of the high salinity. All this has lead to the decline of the Sumerian civilization. The building schemes that sought to strengthen the great empire of Gilgamesh, has enabled the destruction of the civilization.


Masri, R .(1995). “ The Cedars of Lebanon”. The Levant.


About Cherine Akkari

Professional volleyball player, Environmental Sciences graduate student (BSc Environmental Sciences, MSc Environmental Geography). I am often lost and found in Lebanon. Currently in Montreal. Also, you can visit me on

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