Firhmin Forest, Socotra

With more than 30 000 dragon blood trees, Firhmin forest is the largest and densest group of dragon blood trees on Socotra. There is an estimated total of around 80 000 dragon blood trees on Socotra, which might seem a lot, but the regeneration has been non-existent for a very long time. Firhmin forest is but a retirement home for oldies! The oldest of them are estimated to be around 700 years!

The culprit is the ever increasing number of goats and their insatiable appetite for grasses, and whatever is palatable when they have exhausted the grasses. Without the goats, there would be a dense carpet of herbs and grasses, in particular in the shade of the large crown of the dragon blood trees.

There are young dragon blood trees, but they are only found scattered around Socotra in the vertical cliffs, where the goats are unable to reach.

In addition to the calamity of the goats, is the global warming. It has changed the fundamentals in which the dragon blood trees have relied upon of eons. Wather patterns have become unreliable and switching between extremes. Socotra is historically not prone to cyclones, yet in 2015 Socotra was hit back-to-back by extremely destructive cyclones Chapala and Megh – unheard of in human history.

In addition to more extreme weather events, the winter rains have become irregular and unpredictable. The moisture from fog is also less and thus a very important addition to the winter rains is no longer available as it has been historically. The crown of the dragon blood tree is able to collect huge amount of moisture that falls richly to the ground, securing growth for plants for an extended number of weeks after/before the winter rains. If the dragon blood trees were to die, the Firhmin forest would turn in to a dry landscaoe, only coming alive after the rain.

Global warming is a very big and global problem, which Socotra has no part in, as their carbon footprint is minuscule. What can be changed is the issue of the missing regeneration of the dragon blood trees, and there are many projects and initiatives. For one there are two enclosures in Firhmin, with seedlings that will hopefully grow to sizes not threatened by the goats when the fences are brought down in the future. There are also several dragon blood tree nurseries on Socotra as well as several Socotris educating themselves in forestry conservation, so there is hope.

Details about cyclone Chapala
Details about cyclone Megh
Details about cyclone Mekunu (2018)

Read more:
Sustainable Land Use Management Needed to Conserve the Dragon’s Blood Tree of Socotra Island, a Vulnerable Endemic Umbrella Species.

Identifying Suitable Restoration and Conservation Areas for Dracaena cinnabari Balf.f. in Socotra, Yemen.

Firhmin Forest, Socotra

Firhmin Forest, Socotra

Firhmin Forest, Socotra

Firhmin Forest, Socotra

Firhmin Forest, Socotra

Firhmin Forest, Socotra

Last updated on 14 March 2023