Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sad News: Egypt mourns environmentalist Mohamed Kassas

Egypt Independent (Louise Sarant)

The environmental and scientific communities in Egypt are mourning the death of one of its most renowned colleagues and friends, Mohamed Kassas.

The 91-year-old, considered “the father of Egypt’s environment,” died this morning after spending more than a week in Manal Hospital.

The botany professor at Cairo University was the first to dub the term “desertification” and to warn the global community of its threats in 1969 at an international conference on arid lands in Virginia.

Born in 1921 in a fishermen’s village nestled between Lake Burullos and the Mediterranean, Kassas developed an early and acute interest for biodiversity and nature.

His early fascination for plants and animals of the lake’s shores led him to enroll in a scientific program at Cairo University in 1940, where he chose to major in botany.

The deserts surrounding Cairo encouraged him to study plant ecology in arid environments, which subsequently aroused his curiosity for what he would later call the “desertification” process.

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