Three years after it was first proposed, preparations for an African 'wall of trees' to slow down the southwards spread of the Sahara desert are finally getting underway. The 'Great Green Wall' will involve several stretches of trees from Mauritania in the west to Djibouti in the east, to protect the semi-arid savannah region of the Sahel and its agricultural land from desertification.
A plan for the proposed US$3 million, two-year initial phase of the project involving a belt of trees 7,000 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide, was formally adopted at the Community of Sahel Saharan States (Cen-Sad) summit on rural development and food security in Cotonou, Benin, last month (17-18 June).
North African nations have been promoting the idea of a Green Belt since 2005.
The project has been scaled down to reinforce and then expand on existing efforts, and will not be a continent-wide wall of trees, despite the name of the project.
The Green Wall will involve two planting projects on the east and west sides of Africa.