When talking about Sahara desert, what comes first to your mind might be about a vast and dry area where there is only sand in sight. The only color that also comes to your mind might be brown, just the color of the sand.
Indeed, it is the second largest desert on earth, with the first is our south pole, Antarctica. However, unlike the frozen area that no plants are able to live because of its temperature, many parts of Sahara desert is actually still not that extreme in temperature to make some plants grow well.
In fact, there are some plants that grow in the desert, and those plants can be found scattered in the desert. But those wild plants are nothing compared to the Great Green Wall in Sahara. So, what is actually the Great Green Wall? In this article we will talk about it.
In 1952, Richard St. Barbe Baker, an English author, forester, and environmentalist proposed an idea to create a ‘green front’ to Sahara desert. However, his idea didn’t get enough support from the rest of the world.
Fortunately, such kind of idea re-emerged 50 years later in N’Djamena summit for World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. This time, the ‘green front’ idea was accepted by the members of the summit, although it took seven sessions and three years to make all members accepted it.
Since then, this project has developed greatly, from mere concept to realization. The members realized that they need this initiative to battle social, economic, and environmental impacts of desertification.
The real launching of this project was in 2007, when the eighth summit’s members decided to make this project come true. This project then became a flagship project led by African Union. The aim is to make the lives of millions of people around the area better with ecosystem management.
Officially named The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative, this project is said to be the largest living structure in the planet. The span of this green project will reach 8000 kilometers, across the entire width of the continent.
More Than Trees
So, what’s actually the Great Green Wall consisting of? Just as the name indicates, it would be a green ‘wall’. African countries participating in this project are planting trees near the border of the desert of Sahara.
The plants are not usual scrubs or just grasses, but useful plants that can be used in so many ways. One example is food plants, like fruits, vegetables, and cassava that can later be used to feed millions of people living in the area.
The next kind of plants that will inhabit the Great Green Wall are tall trees. Later on, not only giving shades to travelers, there trees will also help people in the area to pr 7050 5918 9570 eserve water. These trees will function to absorb rain water and keep it in the ground. We know that rain is scarce in the area, and this will benefit those people a lot.
More than just the plant, this project will also open up a chance for many people to get a job. Those plants need caring, and there are so many people living in that area who are living under poverty. Thus, not only benefit them ecologically, but this project will also benefit them economically.
Just as the official name of this project, The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative, this project is first concentrated on Sahel region. The region is
one of the poorest place on the planet, thus by concentrating the project there, most people in Sahel will get the second chance to get up from poverty.
Another thing to point out is that this project concentrates in planting trees to fight global warming and climate change. Like mentioned before, this project will be the greatest tree-planting project in Africa, and the result is enormous amount of trees.
Since this project is supported by all countries in Africa, we are not talking about one or two trees, but billions of it. Those billion trees will give us great help to fight our main enemy in this era, global warming.
Although this project seem like going to benefit a lot of people across the continent, and even all around the world, there are some criticisms toward it. The thing to be pointed out by the critics is that desert itself is a healthy and natural ecosystem.
Preventing desertification, even eliminating the whole desert, will make deserts seem like a disease that should be battled. “The desert is a spreading cancer. We must fight it. That is why we have decided to join in this titanic battle,” like Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal’s president said.
The reason is there are many animals and plants that can only be found in deserts, like fenec foxes, Bactrian camels, and thorny devil lizards. If those areas are changed into another kind of ecosystem, then most likely those animals will lose their homes.
Second thing that the critics point out is the vision of the barrier which only concentration on the edge of the desert instead of the wider range of land. This way, if any unwanted thing happens in the area, the whole project will be ruined.
Critics also see this project as an ambitious yet unrealistic project. “This was a stupid way of restoring land in the Sahel,” said one of the critics, Dennis Garrity, a senior research fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre.
Some things are just meant to be impossible to do, and critics say that this project is one of those things. “If all the trees that had been planted in the Sahara since the early 1980s had survived, it would look like Amazonia,” said Chris Reij, senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, to Smithsonian.
So, will this great project work out amazingly or is going to be another failure for humanity? We just can wait and see. However, climate change is our main enemy at this time, and planting trees will not hurt anyone.