Today is the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, and a good time to check in on an enormous project known as the Great Green Wall.
Over 20 countries in and around Africa’s Sahel region, south of the Sahara, are working to re-green areas that have turned to desert because of overuse, expanding desert and climate change.
Desertification puts more people at risk of poverty, food insecurity and armed conflict, so in 2007 a group of countries in the region proposed a wall of drought-resistant trees running thousands of miles, stretching from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east.
It’s about 15 percent complete today, but now it’s about more than just planting trees.
Local communities are using classic techniques to turn dry land green again, partly through trees, but also by setting up deep pits for planting that are good for retaining water.
Over time, the dry land turns green again, and dry wells refill.
And communities where the land is regreening are creating new jobs while taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
School attendance is even up in some places.
There’s still a lot of work to do, of course, but seeing what’s already been accomplished in some areas means enthusiasm for the project is definitely not drying up.
And that’s not the only new green space being planted in the world.
There’s another re-greening project underway in China’s Gobi Desert, by a retired couple that just decided to plant as many trees as they could.
Tububatu and Taoshengchagan started in 2002 with 50 drought-resistant trees.
Now there are tens of thousands, and they’re still at it.
Anakin Skywalker doesn’t like sand, so he’ll probably like today’s episode.
Photo via GreatGreenWall.org