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Africa

The great green wall

A wall of trees along the Sahara Desert’s southern fringe 

Written by Sean Connolly

 

The great green wall

Since 2008, Senegal has been the starting point of a project that is perhaps as audacious as it is necessary – the Great Green Wall. Though the concept was first mooted by naturalists in the 1950s, the accelerating rates of desertifi cation across the Sahel led the idea being picked up in earnest, and this time adopted by a series of 11 national governments, in the mid-2000s. Beautiful in its simplicity, the crux of the initiative involves planting a 15km wide and 7,100km long belt of trees along the Sahara Desert’s southern fringe, which will eventually run all the way from Dakar to Djibouti and form a massive, natural bulwark against the Sahara’s expansion, which has been aggravated by ongoing deforestation across the region and seriously threatens the livelihoods of millions of farmers and herders across the continent.

At the forefront of the initiative, Senegal has been planting nearly two million seedlings per year since 2008, and these today cover more than 30,000ha, mostly in the villages around Louga. The Agence Nationale de la Grande Muraille Verte (% 33 859 0531; e contact@angmv.sn; www.angmv.sn) oversees the project’s implementation in Senegal, and while it doesn’t currently off er much to see for a tourist, it’s early days yet, and in the future you’ll hopefully be able to tour the protected forests of northern Senegal and imagine that someone, 7,100km away on the shores of the Indian Ocean in
Djibouti, is doing the same.

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