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.
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