Making the Sahara green again
Once upon a time, the Sahara was not a desert; it was a huge lush, and wet area
This period was around 10.000 years ago. In Algeria there are the famous rock drawings, which document that once upon a time, instead of blisteringly hot sand, this area was the playground of many animals. In Tassili N’Ajjer there are said to be 50.000 rock drawings from different periods. Most have not been sufficiently studied yet due to the enormous volume of sites and the vast area where they are located.
Many different types of animals used to live in this immense area. There was plenty of food and water as the vegetation was abundant and the region had many lakes, rivers, and streams. There were large forests, and it was the ideal place to live.
Here is a YouTube video, which shows what it now looks like. The landscape is still fascinating and mysterious, but a far cry from the green world it once was.
What happened to all the water?
Archaeologists and paleoecologists alike have been trying to find an answer to this mystery. What happened with this green zone? How come it transformed into a desert? Could it be a human activity (again)? Who were the culprits of this change? Archaeologist David Wright has the following theory. Could it have been humans with their big goat herds which upset the balance?
Mr. Wright studies archaeological and environmental data. They were mainly records of pollen and sediment cores from the same period. It surprised him to discover a certain pattern. When humans started to have big groups of domesticated animals, they would take them out to pasture.
The problem was that where they passed, they would leave near barren land. This influenced the atmospheric moisture, and that might have been the trigger that set off the change.
This might have been the reason, or perhaps there is another explanation as well. We know that the Sahara has gone through multiple periods of being a desert to then convert into green and again back to desert.
This happens when the Earth’s orbital axis changes slightly. This will change the angle at which solar radiation penetrates the atmosphere. At one angle it will cause more rainfall, producing the West African monsoon season, but at another angle, the rainfall will diminish to a much drier spell, lasting thousands of years which automatically converts the land into a desert.
It is also possible that the two competing theories actually worked in concert to increase the speed at which the desert formed. We know that the great Amazon rain forest provides significant amounts of moisture to the atmosphere through transpiration, so the reduction of grasses would only contribute to the denuding of the environment.
How to make the desert green again
Modern technology is coming up with some amazing solutions which not only make infertile places fertile again but at the same time can make a big and positive impact on the climate.
From sand to soil in 7 hours is a very interesting TedTalk by Ole Morten Olesen. It is amazing that something so simple can be life-giving and a solution to the many deserts on our planet.
Using clay to change sand into fertile soil is great, and the fact that trees also thrive in this environment shows we can make a change. The more trees are planted, the more oxygen there will be on our earth.
Taking into account the huge wildfires all around the globe, it is more than a necessity to plant millions upon millions of trees and make the planet green again. To convert vast areas like the Sahara, which is much larger than the Continental U.S., into profitable land can sound utopian, but with the now existing technology, it is very possible.
More Green Projects for difficult soil
There is a project which uses innovative waterboxx technology. This is meant to restore the sponge function of degraded soils. The Dutch Company Aquapro developed a new capillary drill for planting.
In the University of Valladolid in Spain, they made tests to select species and landforms to find the right situation where this waterboxx technology could be applied. They based the selection of species on biodiversity and landscape preservation. Some 60.000 samplings were cultivated and planted in different parts of Spain.
Examples of some of the regions include the Autonomous Region of Castilla y Leon with mining and forested areas in Riofrio de Aliste.
It was also tested in Leon, which has more Alpine conditions, and organic soil is lacking. Other areas chosen included San Mateo de Gallegos in the Autonomous Region of Aragon, which has semi-desertic conditions, and in Vadecans which belongs to the Autonomous Region of Catalunya, where you will find Mediterranean mountains with their long dry periods.
The result of this test was that on flatlands it was too expensive, and the traditional method of planting was more cost-effective. But in mountainous areas, the waterboxx proved to have a benefit above normal planting methods. The waterboxx technology protects the sapling against cold, snow, and landslides.
How to re-green the Middle East
Three-quarters of Jordan is a desert, and as a country, it is one of the driest. In a study published by Stanford University in 2017, they stated that the water situation will get worse in the years to come. By the end of the century, there will be 30% less rainfall and they expect temperatures to rise 6 degrees Celsius.
The situation in Jordan reflects many other places on the planet where similar conditions are expected. It is urgent something needs to be done. Nature can be our alley if we treat her well.
A project called Greening The Desert was established 10 years ago by Australian permaculture expert Geoff Lawton. Here he shows people how to live sustainably with limited water and resources.
Australian biologists Bill Mollison and David Holmgren developed Permaculture (a contraction of permanent agriculture) in the 1970s. Permaculture mimics the natural systems and tries to integrate human activity with natural surroundings. Like that, one creates a sustainable ecosystem.
Mr. Lawton and his Jordanian wife, Nadia, bought a 3000 square meter plot in the Dead Sea valley. This area is known for its high salinity levels, extremely hot environment, and scarcity of people willing to consider purchasing land there, even if the price is cheap.
In 2015, the countries of Jordan and Israel signed an agreement to save the Dead Sea and improve access to water in the region. As so often happens with agreements, not much has happened since then due to diplomatic tension, difficulty with funding, and environmentalist objections.
When Mr. Lawton and his team bought the land in 2008, they started with capturing all the water they could and planted hardy trees and nitrogen-fixing plants. These measures provide the garden with anti-evaporation strategies.
All the water is recycled, the entire project runs on solar power, and this forest garden now serves as an institute. Everybody is welcome, visitors from other countries and the local communities are being shown how permaculture functions.
This YouTube video shows you the 10-year timeline of the Greening the Desert Project.
People also bought small plots of land, and following the guidelines of Mr. Lawton can now boast of their own small oasis.
What are earthworks ?
Douglas Barnes is a permaculture designer. Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton trained him in Australia. He has designed earthworks in many places like North America, Japan, and Andra Pradesh in India.
By applying this knowledge you can increase food production, you get higher groundwater levels, you reduce irrigation needs, and you will enhance ecosystem resilience.
In this book, you will find how to make swales, ponds, dams, hugelkultur, net-and-pan systems, spate irrigation, and more. It means this practical handbook is for all those people who want to maximize the water harvesting potential of any landscape at the lowest cost and impact.
There are many more innovative projects out there with the capacity to make Mother Earth green again. Humanity can do great and good things. We need to spread the word before it is too late and more of our beautiful Planet has been converted into a desert.
Before you leave, you might like to have a look at Recommendations. It is a special page I made for you with a collection of things you could find interesting.
Source: Smithsonian, March 24, 2017, article by Lorraine Boissoneault, Wikipedia
Photo Source: Pixabay
It is very strange that on the one hand, so many people come up with great ideas to make our planet greener, while in other places people are chopping trees as if they were a problem. Not taking into account that trees provide our oxygen.
Please read the following post about 800-year-old trees which have to go because of human stupidity and greed.
800 Year Old Trees In Danger, Unbelievable Government Decision
This post is brilliant, more people need to be aware of what is going on in our world, I have heard about how re-introducing various animals to desert land can have wonderful knock on effects, I think it’s such a pity that every intelligent scientist and genius that comes along are being made to put their knowledge to building bombs and weapons, what a beautiful planet this would be if their intelligence was put toward making the world a better place instead, thank you for sharing this interesting and informative post.
Good Morning Russ,
Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.
So true. If the human race would use its full capacity for good and positive things our Planet would definitely look very different. Now it is a constant struggle to repair the damage done by a few greedy and ignorant people. I call it the battle between good and bad.
I just wonder what future generations will think about our actions. I bet they will not be pleased. The movement of young people taking to the streets and protesting the inaction of many governments is a clear sign.
Hey Taetske, I’m all for adding more green to the world!. Thanks for this well researched article on how innovative technology makes the deserts green again. I didn’t realize so much was being done on this front and I’m pleasantly surprised. That time lapse video of permaculture is absolutely fascinating and a must watch, thanks for sharing
Good Morning Marvin,
I also liked the timelapse video. This is a small project with a lot of manpower over the years but with such a beautiful result. Reminds me of my beginning days in the south of Spain. In 1981 I bought a ruin and over the years build it up to be my little paradise. After my awful experience with Roundup in the first year, I became green.
Did you see the green widget under my photo? Please have a look as it is a good cause.
Thank you for your visit and comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
Mother earth is in great danger, we, habitants of mother earth, we’re not helping issues. But as it has been written in the article technological advances are been made to see that our planet is sustained and made to flourish back as it was in ages past. I really liked the difficult sand project, its really going to help make the soil fertile and germination will be able to come up in places like the desert.
I believe making a vast proportion of our earth like the Sahara fertile to germinate trees is going to change the history of our planet. It will prolong its survival because more trees mean more oxygen and this means it’s going to continue to be habitable.
This is a really good step towards the survival of the Earth, it will be great. This is a nice article that should be shared around to let people know what’s coming up. I really enjoyed reading through. I love it
Good Morning Jones,
Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
When I started to investigate for my post I was surprised to see so many projects worldwide. Some are better than others but overall it is good to see this green trend being so present. I would wish it would be more talked about.
There are other projects where seawater is turned into sweet water but that is very cost-intensive. I prefer to write about lesser-known projects.
Did you by chance notice the green widget under my photo? Please have a look as it might resonate with you.
Excellent post, it is our responsibility as the world’s citizens to protect our plant and development technologies to support agricultural growth.
If we are spending Billions of Dollars trying to get humans to live or at least visit Mars, why aren’t some of our global wealthiest investing their millions into make Mother Nature more sustainable
Good afternoon Dave,
Thank you for visiting my website and for leaving a comment. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
I like your comment about Mars. Lets first clean up our act here before we fly off into space. On the one hand there are so many people doing their best to maintain a responsible balance between us and nature. Then there are the ones who only take without putting back. At the moment it does not look good and Mother Earth is getting frustrated and showing it.
Hello Taetske, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I really like your article just because you talk about saving the earth we totally abandoned. Just like you said, we are capable of doing great things only if we want to. I will definitely share this story on my Twitter profile, I am sure people will find it helpful and interesting.
Good afternoon Danijel,
Thank you for visiting again and your comment.
What a nice idea you want to share my post on Twitter. That really is appreciated as I only do Pinterest and Facebook.
If we want we are capable of doing great things. It is a shame not everybody agrees with the idea we should care for the environment which after all is our habitat
Oh wow! I never realized there was even technology out that could help with re-greening the Middle East! This is a great post and very informative. Heck, I did not even know that the Sahara Desert was once not even desert, to begin with!
I was glad to see that there was a project called Greening the Desert and that it actually worked! I’m excited to see more of this happen in the future!
Good afternoon Jessie,
For sure there are exciting projects worldwide aimed at helping our planet. I would wish for more of those projects as there is a big need for them. The greener it gets with millions of new trees the better.
To imagine that this vast area once was green with water and lots of different animals, now it is dry and one only sees sand mile after mile.
Thank you for visiting again and leaving a comment.
Fabulous, just fabulous to see you with such compelling information about how we can actually have a better green world. I like how you explained that the technology can help to make sands become green. You know this projects are all really perfect. I need to make some more research into the projects. Nice work!
Good afternoon Henderson,
Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.
There are some amazing things happening in the world and I am happy to read about it and then with that information write a post. This TedTalk is eye-opening, with so little one can achieve so much. Nice to hear you found my post interesting.
You have a very interesting post. And you’re right in what you say. Thank you for sharing this with us. In my country, the forests were cut down by greedy people from abroad. In vain do conscious people draw attention to the dangers of such actions. In vain there are many volunteers who plant trees in the deserted places. The fatigue is too much.
I still live in a beautiful country, with forests, waters, the Danube Delta and the black sea, mountains, plains, and hills, but I wonder how long from now on.
Good afternoon Carmen,
I know in many countries millions of trees are planted by people who realize we need trees to survive. Then, on the other hand, trees are cut down or destroyed by huge fires like the Amazon or at this moment Australia. You live in a beautiful area and I hope it will stay like that for a very long time.
Thank you for your comment on my website. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulips widget.
It is a fantastic site and I deeply loved it reading through. Thanks for your research to put this article together.
It is a fascinating theory that a change in the spinning axis of earth can change the rainfall!
Making Greenlands out of barren land is like a wild dream coming true.
Thanks to modern technology and human creativity to realize this vision.
We should plant more hardy plants because climate change has dried out many regions.
More plants, more oxygen will make the earth healthy.
Good afternoon Anusuya,
Thank you for your visit and for leaving a comment. I hope you have downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
When humans want they are capable of great things and making the deserts green again is one of them. I hope more projects will start worldwide as Mother Earth is in dire need of help. Instead of destruction, we should learn to protect.
This is fascinating Taetske and we need to be doing more of this all over the world. The shot of the oasis created from the desert is amazing and inspiring. There is obviously a way to turn back the clock, we have the means and the knowledge. We just need to want to do it sooner rather than later before it is too late.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Good Morning Lily,
Thank you for your visit and for your comment.
On the news you are normally confronted with negative news. That is why it is so uplifting to read about these projects. We are able to be constructive if we want to. Our planet is in need of projects like this. Trees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Where will we get our oxygen from if the trees are gone? Everything is related.
I love finding articles on improving our environment and even better if it is technology that is enhancing our planet. This technology to turn the desert green again, is just brilliant. Us human beings have done so much damage to our planet, that we have to take steps to rectify it. I had no idea that there was a program to turn the desert green and loved the video of the timeline, it is awesome.
Good Morning Line,
That video is amazing. In only 10 years and such a difference. I have lived on my organic farm since 1981, and over the years I have planted many things. Trees that were tiny now stand 10 meters tall and provide the much needed shade in the hot summer. All kinds of insects and small mammals live here, and it is a joy to observe the happenings in nature. Spring has arrived and when you open the door you are greeted by a lovely birds concert and the bees are buzzing in the mulberry tree.
Thank you for your comment.
I have visited the Sahara desert when I was on the holiday in Tunisia. That was a great experience.
Thanks for sharing this interesting project here. I never thought that it would be possible. Technology is way ahead, and that is great. Such a great aim to make the planet greener. Like the video where we can see how that is possible to make changes.
Good Morning Violeta,
Thank you for your visit and for leaving a comment on my website. I hope you downloaded your free PDF? Tulip widget.
It is of utmost importance for all of us to plant trees. They produce the oxygen we need to survive. With all these horrendous wild fires in the world, fauna and flora are so damaged that we have to take action. The projects making the Sahara green again are hope giving. Humanity is capable of doing positive things.