The Great Green Wall is an African initiative to grow an 8000km long ‘wall’ of trees across the continent. The project has been ongoing for the last 10 years, and is currently 15% underway.
21 African counties now have projects within the initiative, with countries such as Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali leading the way. Senegal has planted 12 million trees in the last 10 years! In Ethiopia, 15 million hectares of degraded land has been restored.
So why now?
Desertification is the process by which land becomes desert, and is a response to climate change and land use management. Currently an estimated 500 million people are living on land undergoing desertification. The Sahara is the World’s second largest desert and is rapidly expanding, which has devastating impacts to the agricultural industry which in turn has far reaching effects across Africa including food and water shortages. Therefore, in order to tackle issues such as starvation, mass migration, growing population, and conflict over resources, the countries of the Sahel region have decided to join forces in an attempt to create the largest living structure on the planet
The initiative aims to reclaim degraded land by planting trees that are well adapted to the local environment, i.e. drought resistant species such as Acacia, as well as native grass and shrub species.
The White Acacia goes dormant during the wet season, and defoliates once the rains begin, dropping leaves to fertilise the soil, and does not shade crops during the growing season.
What are the benefits of the initiative?
- Aims to tackle desertification and effects of sandstorms from the Sahara.
- Prevents soil erosion, and improves the nutrient content of soil improvement, which brings agricultural benefits.
- Ecosystem benefits including habitat creation, meaning increased food sources
- Creates jobs of maintenance and within tree nurseries.
- The Great Green Wall also brings in tourists, scientists, and medical professionals, which has brought attention and resources to a much-neglected region.
- Reduced surface water run off as water is soaked up into croplands and recharges the water table.
By 2030, the Wall aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land and sequester 250 million tonnes of CO2 .
The Great Green Wall is Africa's answer to climate change, shouldn't we be asking what is ours?
For more information and to follow the progress, please visit the Great Green Wall website: https://www.greatgreenwall.org/about-great-green-wall
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