Across the East-West stretch of Africa an ambitious and unique project is underway to plant adjacent “Wall of Trees” as a preventive measure against the rapidly expanding desertification of the Sahara. Because of its immense scale, with the wall stretching 4,200 miles long and 9 miles wide covering the entire width of the continent, the initiative has been dubbed “The Great Green Wall” of Africa.
Climate change has caused more droughts and desertification has become a major threat causing more and more fertile land to become deserts, this is typically a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture. According to UN reports two-thirds of the arable land could be lost by 2025 if the current trend continues.
The project was approved by the African Union in 2007, and in 2008 the first trees were planted. The project is still in its infancy despite eleven (11) nations supporting and participating on the project — Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. It will still take several years to complete.
The “Great Green Wall” of Africa project aims to help mitigate the environmental effects of climate change. The trees are placed to act as barrier against the humid desert winds, hold moisture in the air and soil, reduce erosion, enhance biodiversity, provide new arable lands and as a source of vegetation. In addition the project is plays a role in local agriculture and employment.
“People used to go to towns to seek paid work during the lean season, but since the project started, that has changed,” says Papa Sarr, Technical Director of the Senegal National Agency of theGreat Green Wall.
Today more than 50,000 acres of trees has been planted, and 15 years into the future the will be part of a forest that will transform the continent.
This should set an example to the rest of the world, if projects this huge can be done. For sure smaller scale initiatives can be done around the world as well.
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